You can see our individual websites linked from the People page for more information about particular research projects.
In general, work in the Cognition and Development lab is concerned with questions of how children and adults construct causal interpretations of the world around them and how those interpretations compare to other ways of tracking information. This orientation leads naturally to questions of how adults and children cognitively reduce the enormous causal complexity of the world to more manageable forms and what distortions of that information occur as it is necessarily simplified.
Just as image processing software must engage in compressions of information to handle otherwise overwhelming storage and computation requirements, so also must humans construct coarse causal gists of a much more complex reality. We are interested in studying the nature of those gists and what they do and do not capture about real world causal relations. A related question concerns how we deal with gaps in our knowledge. To what extent do we recognize our own gaps and how do we construe and access knowledge in other minds when we need fill in those gaps?
These questions are critically informed by taking a developmental perspective that explores how young children cognitively grasp the many levels and types of causal structure inherent in the world. We also extensively consider the interplay between domain specific and domain general processes and structures, such as between folkbiology and folkphysics. More broadly all these issues bear on the topic of folkscience, that is, how people naturally construct explanatory accounts of various domains of phenomena.