Research in the Mind-Emotion Developmental Lab focuses on age-related changes and individual differences in emotion understanding, theory of mind, moral cognition, and past-to-future reasoning. This has included studies on children’s understanding of emotions and decisions caused by being reminded about past events or by anticipating future events, children’s reasoning about causes of fear and worry and strategies that can help alleviate negative emotions, children’s beliefs about the effects of emotions on thinking, children’s knowledge about the influence of optimistic versus pessimistic thoughts and expectations on emotions and decisions, and children’s reasoning about mental diversity and common ground in interpretation. We further conduct research that bridges theory of mind and moral reasoning, including studies on children’s beliefs about the emotional consequences of willpower, transgression, and altruistic helping, as well as children’s social categorization in moral and non-moral contexts. Sources of individual differences include worry and anxiety, working memory, inhibitory control, visual attention biases, reasoning about mathematical probability and uncertainty, family composition (especially siblings), and attachment.
Research in our lab focuses on the development of young children’s knowledge about people in terms of their inner, mental lives–what a person desires, intends, believes, thinks about, and feels emotionally.