Frank Keil, Director
Professor Frank C. Keil (Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, 1977) is the director of the Cognition and Development lab.
At the most general level I am interested in how we come to make sense of the world around us. Much of this research involves asking how intuitive explanations and understandings emerge in development and how they are related to notions of cause, mechanism and agency. These relations are linked to broader questions of what concepts are, how they change with development and increasing expertise and how they are structured in adults.
One set of current studies is examining a level of explanatory insight that functions without knowledge of specific mechanisms and instead involves knowing what sorts of properties are causally potent in a domain and how they are likely to interact. These patterns vary considerably across large scale domains of phenomena such as living kinds vs. artifacts) and a partial understanding of these patterns emerges very early in development and guides learning of more detailed domain specific beliefs. Other studies are examining constraints on preferences for some explanations over others even when there is little or no specific knowledge of the phenomena under explanation.
We are also asking how emerging knowledge of concrete mechanisms can link up frequency based information with abstract explanatory principles as well as cause distortions in judgment. A key part of developing such understandings also involves learning how knowledge is clustered and distributed in the minds others and how best to access that knowledge. We are exploring dramatic developmental and individual differences in how the social distribution of knowledge is understood. Finally, there is a longstanding interest in links between conceptual and semantic development and how the emergence of language interacts with conceptual structure.
Dr. Keil can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (203) 432-2389. Click here for his cv.
Kristi Lockhart is an associate research scientist and lecturer at Yale University. She received her graduate degrees from Stanford University and University of Pennsylvania. A licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Lockhart specializes in working with children and families, with a specific interest in depression and other severe mental disorders. Her research focuses on children’s social-cognitive development, specifically children’s understanding of social convention and their beliefs about the origins and stability of traits. More recently, she has been investigating children’s understanding of cheating.