Welcome! Please read the below project descriptions. 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.

Please only apply if you are willing to make a commitment to work in our lab:
* 10 hours per week
* Two semesters
* 3 - 5 hour blocks of availability, particularly between the hours of 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM and 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM
* Flexible availability

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

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. 


Cross-Cultural Social and Causal Reasoning in Young Children

Project Description:
We currently have a project exploring the cultural differences between children in the U.S., China, and Peru when making inferences about the causes of other people's behavior and how much free will they themselves and others have. We work in collaboration with researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and are starting a partnership with preschools in Peru. 

What We Are Looking For in an Applicant:
Research assistants (RAs) will help with translating, entering, coding, and analyzing the data that we have collected in Beijing or Peru. This will involve listening to audio recordings of the experiment and translating what you hear, entering information to excel files, and depending on interest, entering data into SPSS. RAs will also assist with communication with the researchers in China and Peru, and coordination of the project. The position will largely be translating data and data analysis, but depending on the RA's availability and experience working with children, there may be opportunities to help run experiments with preschoolers. RAs will also be expected to attend lab meetings and participate in paper discussions. This is a great opportunity to get exposure to the nature of cross-cultural developmental research.

Supervisor: Adrienne Wente, Ph.D. candidate

Qualifications:

  • Fluent in Spanish
  • Excellent organizational skills
  • Self-motivated
  • Intellectually curious and have an interest in both cognitive development and conducting research
  • Flexible availability
  • Experience and comfort working with young children
  • Please list your available days and hours in your application, even if they may change. A car is not necessary, but please mention if you have a car. 
     
  • Prior translation experience is desirable but not essential

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

Project Description:
The first project is part of ongoing research on how children learn cause and effect relationships from observing others actions. How do they decide which actions lead to which outcomes? How do they decide which of those actions to imitate in order to bring about an effect?

The second project investigates how children use different types of evidence to form theories about causal relationships. How do children build theories about the world around them and what evidence causes them to revise these theories? How do children simultaneously form theories that explain the relationships between concepts and the concepts that make up those theories? 

What We Are Looking For in an Applicant:
We are looking for dedicated and motivated undergraduate students interested in pursuing a graduate degree in developmental psychology or a related field. Prior research experience is appreciated though not required. Prior experience working with children is essential. 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 1-6 years old and adults, collecting data, analyzing data, and literature reviews. 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. We ask our RAs to work for a minimum of 8-10 hours per week and prefer a 2-semester commitment if possible, though we are flexible.

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

Qualifications:

  • Organized, self-motivated, independent, and hard working
  • Prior experience with children is required (both formal and informal experience is great) 
  • Comfort acting silly around children is needed (a bit of acting or improv experience is helpful but not essential)
  • Must be excited about Cognitive Development research
  • Blocks of 3-5 hours regularly open in your schedule, particularly between the hours of 9am-1pm and 2pm-5pm for conducting research at the local preschools. Morning times are generally better than afternoons. Weekend availability is also great (we run experiments at the Lawrence Hall of Science and other museums during the weekend).
  • Please list your available days and hours in your application, even if they may change. A car is not necessary, but please mention if you have a car. 
     
  • 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! We're always building new toys for our experiments.

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?

What We Are Looking For in an Applicant:
We are looking for dedicated and motivated undergraduate students interested in pursuing a graduate degree in developmental psychology or a related field. Prior research experience is appreciated though not required. Prior experience working with children is essential. 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 3-8 years old and adults, collecting data, analyzing data, and literature reviews. 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. We ask our RAs to work for a minimum of 6-10 hours per week and prefer a 2-semester commitment if possible, though we are flexible.

Supervisor: Emily Liquin, Graduate Student

Qualifications:

  • Organized, self-motivated, independent, and hard working 
  • Prior experience with children is required (both formal and informal experience is great) 
  • Comfort acting silly around children is needed (a bit of acting or improv experience is helpful but not essential)
  • Must be excited about Cognitive Development research 
  • Blocks of 3-5 hours regularly open in your schedule, particularly between the hours of 9am-1pm and 2pm-5pm for conducting research at the local preschools. Morning times are generally better than afternoons. Weekend availability is also great (we run experiments at the Lawrence Hall of Science and other museums during the weekend).
  • Please list your available days and hours in your application, even if they may change. A car is not necessary, but please mention if you have a car. 
     
  • 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! We're always building new toys for our experiments.

Cognitive Precursors to Scientific Reasoning in Young Children

Project Description:
The big question that motivates my 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 problem of variable selection--how we isolate variables that are relevant and important in a given context--as well as to understanding "conceptual change," or the process by which we radically restructure our knowledge to achieve a new kind of understanding (e.g., as in many cases of scientific revolution). In my research, I work with both children and adults. 

What We Are Looking For in an Applicant:
I am looking for two additional research assistants (5-10 hours per week). Research assistants would have the opportunity to be involved in all parts of the research process, including study design, stimuli construction, data collection & analysis, and attending lab meetings. 

Prior experience working with children is strongly preferred, but all interested undergraduates are welcome to apply. Top qualities in a research assistant candidate include: 

1.) curiosity about cognitive science (especially cognitive development)--REQUIRED,
2.) ability to commitment and follow-through on projects and time commitments, &
3.) love of fun  

Supervisor: Mariel Goddu, Graduate Student

Qualifications:
Desired but not required:

  • Prior experience working both independently as well as part of a team
  • Prior experience in research
  • Art (construction + visual graphic design) skills.

Adolescent Causal Reasoning

Project Description:
The study investigates social and non-social causal reasoning in adolescents age 9-14 by presenting teens with evidence of a particular causal hypothesis. Preliminary results suggest that teens are more flexible reasoners that children and adults for social causes but not for non-social causes.

What We Are Looking For in an Applicant:
Highly motivated, open schedule on weekends and can commit to 2 semesters in the lab for 5-10 hours per week.

Supervisor: Shaun O'Grady, Graduate Student