Welcome! Please read the application requirements, criteria, and project descriptions completely before applying. Once you know which project you would like to apply for (and it's ok if it's more than one), please fill out our application here and also on the URAP website.

Fall 2018 URAP Applications

This is an unpaid volunteer position for the Fall semester (August-December). Interns will be expected to work roughly 10 hours per week. Research Assistants will work with graduate students on multiple ongoing research projects and with the lab manager on administrative tasks. Research Assistants will be responsible for coding data, recruiting and testing child and/or adult participants, and reading and discussing relevant theoretical and empirical papers. There will be biweekly lab meetings. Research Assistants should be comfortable working independently and managing their time effectively.  URAP Research Assistant applications will be accepted from August 15-27.

Application Requirements and Criteria

Accepting applications Wednesday, August 15, 2018 - Friday, August 27, 2018.

Please only apply if you are willing to make a commitment to work in our lab:
* 10 hours per week for 2 semesters
* Five hour blocks of availability, particularly 1) Weekdays 9:00AM-1:00PM; 2) Weekdays 1:00PM-5:00PM; and 3) Weekends 9:00AM-5:00PM

Requirements for
All Applicants

All research in the Gopnik Cognitive Development Lab is broadly focused on children's development of cause and effect reasoning and how they learn from and about other people. We are looking for dedicated and motivated undergraduate students interested in pursuing a graduate degree in developmental psychology or a related field. RAs will work closely with a graduate student assisting them on all aspects of the research process. RAs will help with experimental and stimuli design; recruiting participants 3 - 14 years old and adults; and collecting, organizing, coding, and analyzing data. RAs will meet regularly with their mentors to discuss the theoretical motivations of the studies they are working on as well as the findings of other empirical papers both related to the studies in the lab and important to the field in general.

What We Are Looking For in an Applicant

* Must be excited about Cognitive Development research
* Organized, self-motivated, independent, and hard working
* Prior experience with children (both formal and informal experience is great) 
* Comfort acting silly around children (a bit of acting or improv experience is helpful but not essential)
* Prior research experience is not required (though it is a plus) 
* Artistic, mechanical, electrical engineering or programming experience is not necessary, but would be great!


Please do not contact us about your application. If you are selected for an interview, you will receive an email.

Project Descriptions

Cognitive Development Research on Causal Reasoning, Relational Understanding, Imitation, and Imaginative Play

Project Description:
One project examines development of reasoning about social roles and individuals or categories.  Most adults can distinguish between properties of individuals (e.g. Josie likes salted popcorn) and properties of social roles, or positions (A president can command the military). Even when an individual occupies the social position, we don't mix up the properties of individuals and social roles (e.g., even if Josie becomes the president, we don't necessarily revise our concept of president to include the feature of liking salted popcorn). This project investigates how children come to form such complex, structured representations of social knowledge. 

Another project focuses on development of reasoning about probabilistic cause-effect relationships. Sometimes, the right answer to the question "Does X cause Y?" is "It depends."  For example, does stress cause a drop in your course grades?  Perhaps it depends on the courses you're taking, or even on your level of physical fitness (which can buffer the effect of short-term stress). How do children reason about such interactive causal relationships? And how does that shape the way they learn about the world?

Supervisor: Nadya Vasilyeva, Ph.D., Post-Doc and Katie Kimura, Graduate Student

    Change Machines and Turtles 

    Project Description:
    The big question that motivates this research is, where do new ideas come from?  In other words: how do we come to entertain novel possibilities when we are acting on the world (making causal interventions) or explaining something about the world (making causal explanations)? This question is closely tied to questions about understanding the problems of variable selection--how we isolate variables that are relevant and important in a given context--as well as to understand conceptual change, or the process by which we radically restructure our knowledge to achieve a new kind of understanding (e.g., as many cases in scientific revolution). In my research, I work with both children and adults. 

    Supervisor: Mariel Goddu, Graduate Student 

    Exploratory Decision-Making Across Development

    Project Description:                                                                                                                                                   This project is part of ongoing research on how children reason about information and reward when making the decision to explore. Do children integrate information about these two possible outcomes to make a decision? Are children sensitive to different qualities of potential information to be gained (e.g., how easy it is to learn, how useful it is), and how does this change their preference for this information?

                                                                                                      Supervisor: Emily Liquin, Graduate Student 

    Project Description:
    In this study we are interested in understanding how children's knowledge of gender stereotypes influences their explanations for another person's behavior.  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 the child will be asked to explain the dolls' behaviors. 

    Supervisor: Shaun O'Grady, Graduate Student 

    Causal Attribution

    Project Description:
    This project examines whether children can adapt their active learning strategies to different learning situations.  More specifically, it investigates whether children can select those exploratory actions that promise the largest gain of new information given certain characteristics of a task, such as the likelihood of a certain solution being the correct one.  This project focuses on preschoolers and employs a non-verbal paradigm in which children have to find an egg shaker hidden in several boxes by choosing between two alternative exploratory actions (e.g. opening a box right away or shaking it first). 

    Supervisor: Azzurra Ruggeri

    Adaptiveness of Children's Active Learning Strategies