Ph.D., Stanford University, 2005
Cognitive development, social cognition, imitation
Since joining the faculty at Georgia State, I have established a research program that investigates how children use social learning, specifically the mechanism of imitation. Social learning is important because it allows one to avoid the time-consuming (and potentially dangerous) process of trial-and-error by capitalizing on others’ hard-won experiences. I have demonstrated that children’s social learning is a flexible process that allows for the acquisition of even abstract information. My goal with this basic research is to identify general trends from social learning that can be applied across ages and contexts.
As a faculty member, I have also increased the questions I can ask regarding the social and cognitive processes underlying social learning by establishing collaborations with researchers who study atypical development and nonhuman primates. I have used experimental designs to show that even preschoolers have a rudimentary understanding of complex social concepts (such as capability, perception, and fairness) that they use to guide their learning and behaviors.