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Adolescent Causal Reasoning

Ages 9 - 14 years old

Question:
How do adolescents reason about the causes of other people's actions and the causes of physical events in the world?

How the Game Works:
This study explores how older children and teens reason about the causes of other people's actions as well as the causes of physical events. In one game, your child will see two dolls interacting with some toys and will answer a series of questions about why the dolls are playing or not playing with particular toys. They will also participate in a game in which they will see different types of blocks activate a machine that lights up and plays music and will be asked what types of blocks make the machine go.

If you are interested in helping out, your child will receive a $10 gift card afterward to thank them for participating!


Gender SCM

Ages 3 - 6 and 9-17 years old

Question:
In this study we are interested in understanding how children's knowledge of gender stereotypes influences their explanations for another person's behavior. 

How the Game Works:
In one task your child will sort various activities into bins based on gender. In a second task, they will be presented with different scenarios in which male and female dolls play on some toys and avoid other toys and your child will be asked to explain the dolls' behaviors. 


Eggsploration

Ages 4 - 8 years old

Question:
How are children motivated by the potential to gain information as opposed to the potential to gain a reward? 

How the Game Works:
In this study, children play a game with two boxes full of colorful Easter eggs. Children are told that some of the eggs have stickers inside, and are told about the distribution of stickers in each box. Sometimes, one box will have more stickers than the other box. Additionally, children may be told exactly which eggs have stickers inside, or they may be told that it's a "mystery" that they can figure out by opening the eggs. Children then choose one of the boxes of eggs to play with. We're interested in which box children choose, as well as which eggs (and how many eggs) they choose to open from that box. This study will tell us how children reason about information and reward when deciding what to explore.


DevMo

Ages 4 - 7 years old

Question:
Do children prefer stable or unstable causal relationships?

How the Game Works:
Children are presented with two toys that sometimes light up when they are placed on a special "machine". The children complete several tasks to figure out the patterns of activation for each toy, and then make guesses about how the toys would behave on a new machine.


ZAA

Ages 4 - 7 years old

Question:
How does exploratory decision making change across development? How do different exploratory strategies affect learning?

How the Game Works:
This study investigates how children choose whether to "explore" (search for new information) or "exploit" (pursue reward). Children will be introduced to a machine that displays a happy face when one type of block is placed on it, and a sad face when another type of block is placed on it. Children initially will not know which blocks belong to each category. In the game, the child is able to choose whether or not to put each block on the machine. "Happy" blocks tend to produce rewards (gaining stickers), while "sad" blocks tend to incur costs (losing stickers). We're interested in seeing how children choose whether or not to put blocks on the machine, and whether they're able to learn to distinguish "happy" blocks from "sad" blocks. The results of this study will tell us how exploration and learning interact in dynamic learning environments and how different patterns of exploration might produce different learning outcomes.


Flat Foot

Ages 4 - 5 years old

Question:
Can we prime adults and children to revise their higher-order causal beliefs?

How the Game Works:
Participants will be shown three causal tasks that each operate along the same higher-order principle. Children and adults will then see an ambiguous case and will be asked to infer the causal structure.


StRA

Ages 4 -5 years old

Question: 
Does construal of a source of inequality (effort, ability, structural constraints) affect allocation of new resources? Does structural construal encourage rectification of an existing inequality more than the other construals?

How the Game Works:
Participants "read" (together with the experimenter) an illustrated story about kids in two schools, Blue school and Green school. They learn that kids in one school baked 5 pies, while the kids in the other school baked only 1 pie. Depending on the experimental condition, they also learn that the difference in the number of pies the kids at the two schools baked is due either to effort (kids in one school worked harder), or ability (kids in one school are better at baking), or structural inequality (kids in one school had more flour and sugar to bake pies with). Then participants are asked to allocate 6 new pies, dividing them between the two schools in any way they like. We are interested in whether the structural construal encourages rectification of an existing inequality (by allocating more new pies to the school that had only one due to limited resources) more than the effort- and ability-based construals.

Participants are also asked a series of additional questions probing for their expectations about the kids in the two schools (would kids in one school make more kites? Would the participant prefer to be friends with the kids from one school more than the other?).


Theory Revision

Ages 4 - 5 years old

Question:
How much information do children need to revise their beliefs or theories? 

How the Game Works:
Children will be invited to play a game in which they will learn how a set of arbitrary toys work. They will then see that the toys work differently and afterwards will be asked to activate a new toy to demonstrate their understanding of how it works. 


StrEx

Ages 3 - 6 years old

Question:
Can children take into account information about external constraints when explaining behavior of others?

How the Game Works:
Together with an experimenter, kids "read" an illustrated story about a school where boys and girls play different games in different classrooms. Kids are then asked to think about the reasons the students in each classroom might play each game, and to guess what game a student would play if she transferred from one classroom to another.


Monkey's Birthday

Ages: 3 - 5 years old

Question:
Is there a relationship between hypothetical reasoning and pretend play in preschool aged children?

How the Game Works:
Monkey’s Birthday explores the relationship between counterfactual thinking and pretend play. Children are introduced to a stuffed animal monkey and must figure out how to turn on a machine that plays Happy Birthday music to surprise the monkey. Children are asked counterfactual questions about how to turn on the machine and later they use a pretend machine instead of the real one to imagine they are surprising the monkey. Based on previous research, children who are able to answer the counterfactual questions correctly will also be able to more easily imagine using the pretend machine instead of the real one, suggesting that there is a relationship between the two types of thought.