My work bridges developmental psychology, social psychology, and personality psychology, and examines the self-conceptions (or mindsets) people use to structure the self and guide their behavior. My research looks at the origins of these mindsets, their role in motivation and self-regulation, and their impact on achievement and interpersonal processes.
How do we learn to communicate using language? I study children's language learning and how it interacts with their developing understanding of the social world. I use behavioral experiments, computational tools, and novel measurement methods like large-scale web-based studies, eye-tracking, and head-mounted cameras.
I am broadly interested in the representations and inferential processes that underlie learning in social contexts. By using a combination of developmental, neuroimaging, computational, and clinical approaches, my current projects study social evaluations and pragmatic inferences in communicative contexts, neural development of Theory of Mind and its role in social learning, and various factors that affect our decision to teach others and to learn from others.
Ellen Markman’s research interests include the relationship between language and thought; early word learning; categorization and induction; theory of mind and pragmatics; implicit theories and conceptual change. She is the Lewis M. Terman Professor at Stanford. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2003 and to the National Academy of Sciences in 2011. She is a recipient of the American Psychological Association’s Division 7 Outstanding Mentoring Award and the American Psychological Society’s William James Lifetime Achievement Award for Basic Research.
Steven Roberts is an assistant professor of psychology and a co-director of the Social Concepts Lab. He received his A.A. in Liberal Arts from the Borough of Manhattan Community College, B.S. in Applied Psychology from New York University, and M.S. and Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Michigan. Broadly, Steven is interested in how people think about group boundaries.
Who am I, and how do I know who I am? I am interested in how humans form and update representations of themselves and other people. The complex problem of when, what, and how information becomes incorporated into self- and person-knowledge is incredibly fascinating to me, and I am curious how these abstract representations motivate self-presentational behaviors.
I am interested in understanding the social aspects of communication, including how we infer the mental states, beliefs, and abilities of others, and how we determine what should be communicated to whom. In addition, I am interested in questions related to future-thinking and the role that social imagination might play in our ability to make plans into the future.
Manuel studied Psychology at the University of Vienna and New York University. He did his PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. He’s interested in the psychological processes enabling human communication. Before coming to Stanford, he studied how these processes enable non-verbal communication in human children and great apes. Now he is looking at how they allow children to learn language.
I am currently interested in studying how children learn with others in different social contexts, and the implications for basic cognitive processes and learning outcomes. How might the presence of another mind affect the hypotheses a learner considers? Do the socio-dynamics of the environment impact a learner’s representation of the cost of information sharing? How, when, and why do children choose to teach others?
Alex did her PhD in psychology at UC Berkeley and postdoctoral research at Radboud University in the Netherlands, focusing on the nature of category systems across languages—how these semantic structures vary, evolve, and influence thought. Her current research examines the roles of language and culture in children’s early reasoning about abstract ideas like causes, relations, and space.
Abdellah did his undergraduate work at Ecole Polytechnique and his graduate work at Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, France. He is interested in early word learning and how it relates to the broad context of cognitive development.
Bria did her undergraduate work at Stanford, and is happy to be back on campus. She spent two years at École Normale Supérieure before doing her graduate work at Harvard University. She is broadly interested in the interface between visual perception and cognition – how do we know a cup is a “cup”, and how does a baby learn what is – and what isn’t – a cup? Currently, she’s exploring if early word learning impacts how infants represent object categories.
Kyle graduated from Wesleyan University with a B.A. in Psychology in 2010. He is intersted in understanding the importance of social information for language learning. Currently, he is exploring how joint attention supports learning across different contexts and language modalities (spoken vs. signed languages).
Pooja Paul received her B.A. in Linguistics and Cognitive Science from Pitzer College, and in 2018 she received her Ph.D in Linguistics from Harvard University, along with a secondary degree in Mind/Brain/Behavior. Her work investigates the interface between the compositional machinery of language and non-linguistic domains of cognition in the human mind (eg. social, event, quantitative reasoning). Her approach combines insights and methodologies from psycholinguistics, developmental psychology, and linguistic theory.
Humans are efficient and adaptable learners, but we don't have to learn everything from scratch – some tasks, such as learning to drive a car or finding foods that are safe to eat, would be difficult, even dangerous, to do without gathering information from other people. My research explores how children and adults exploit the rich structure of the social world to decide when to learn from others and whom to learn from.
Michelle recently graduated from Wellesley College with a major in Psychology and a minor in Mathematics. Broadly, she is interested in how children make inferences about a broad population or social group with such sparse data from a handful of individuals, and how these inferences affect their social interactions. She is also interested in how children's perceptions of others' mental states (e.g., knowledge) might affect their own behaviors, especially in educational settings (e.g., question-asking).
I am interested in children's developing "philosophy of mind" - specifically, how children (and adults) reason about sentience, consciousness, and personhood. How do we know when we're in the presence of a sentient creature? What kinds of capacities or properties do we expect sentient creatures to have, or not to have? Answers to these questions might change over development and are likely to differ across individuals with different cultural and educational experiences, with consequences in both the cognitive and sociomoral domains.
Emotional cues are abundant in our daily lives. How do young children make sense of these cues? In my research, I study how infants and children use observed emotional signals to reason about the unknown world and to guide their learning and exploration. These abilities, I propose, are supported by an intuitive theory of emotion that is connected to children’s knowledge of the physical and social world broadly. The work spans methods from infant looking time measures to computational models. It advances our understanding of the remarkable human capacities to learn in social contexts, and bridges gaps across disciplines including developmental, cognitive and affective sciences.
Erica completed a B.A.Sc. in Cognitive Science at McGill University. She worked in the Onishi lab, studying how infants use cues for speech segmentation, and also how adults interpret sentences with ambiguous meanings. She is interested in looking at how children use linguistic and contextual cues to make inferences about speakers' intentions.
I'm a first-year graduate student in developmental psychology at Stanford University. I'm broadly interested in our representations of categories, and how those representations interface with language over the course of development. Other interests of mine include metaphor, non-literal language, and pragmatics, as well as how we usually think about traditional philosophical problems about object identity and personal identity.