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Research Site Close-up:

California, UNITED STATES • Yucatán, MEXICO 

Cultural-religious groups include Protestants, Catholics, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jewish people, Muslim people, and religiously unaffiliated people living in and around Riverside, California, United States; as well as Catholics, members of a Protestant Anabaptist fraternity with roots in Pentecostal Christianity (“Los Hermanos”), and charismatic Evangelical Christians (“Autodenominados”) living in Maya villages in the Yucatán, Mexico

PIs:  Rebekah Richert (Lead PI) • Elizabeth Davis. (co-PI) • Laura Shneidman (co-PI)


PI: Kushnir

Rebekah Richert Photo.jpg

Rebekah Richert (PI) is one of the primary investigators on the Developing Belief Network, as well as the PI leading this research team. Dr. Richert is a full professor of psychology and the director of the Childhood Cognition Lab at the University of California, Riverside. Based on her training in cognitive development, Dr. Richert has developed various lines of research into how children’s developing social cognition influences their understanding of religion, fantasy, and media. Her research team is nearly done with data collection from a JTF-funded, 6-wave longitudinal study of the development of religious cognitions in early childhood in children from various religious background. Her research has been published in top journals in developmental psychology, including Child Development, Cognitive Development, Developmental Psychology, and the British Journal of Developmental Psychology, as well as journals specifically devoted to the psychology of religion, including Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion and the Journal of Cognition & Culture. Dr. Richert’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation (including as PI of a 5-year Collaborative Research Grant), the Social Science Research Council, the John Templeton Foundation, and the Templeton World Charity Trust.  Postdocs Boli Reyes-Jaquez and Kara Weisman are also part of this team.


Elizabeth Davis (co-PI) is an associate professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside. Her research focuses on understanding how emotion regulation relates to adaptive outcomes (e.g., learning) and maladaptive outcomes (e.g., anxiety) in childhood, with a focus on identifying regulatory strategies that children can use to effectively alleviate negative emotion. She also aims to identify individual differences in children’s biology and social experiences that determine whether they can regulate emotion effectively, as well as mechanisms responsible for effective emotion regulation (e.g., attentional focus).


Laura Shneidman (co-PI) is an assistant professor of Psychology at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA, USA. She previously held professorial positions in the Psychology department at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and the Center for Economic Research and Teaching in the Interdisciplinary Program on Educational Policies and Practices (PIPE). Dr. Shneidman’s research focuses on early social learning in diverse social contexts. She has worked for over 10 years in Yucatec Mayan communities in Southeastern Mexico where she has used experimental and observational techniques in order to explore the relation between caregiver input and exploratory and observational learning in infancy and early childhood. 

Elizabeth Davis
Laura Shneidman

Photographs of Riverside, California, one of the research sites for this sub-grant.

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