My research examines conceptual development and the development of social cognition. In conceptual development, my work focuses on categorization: How do children categorize different kinds of objects? Does category structure vary by domain? How do children use categories to guide their inferences and behavior? How does information about within-category variability influence individuals’ concepts?
In the development of social cognition, my work examines how children categorize people, as well as the implications of social categories for children’s behavior, social inferences, and moral cognition. A primary line of research examines the implications of within-group cooperation and between-group competition for social cognition: Are young children sensitive to the conditions that foster between-group competition? Do they view cooperative relationships as particularly important kinds of social bonds? Are children’s moral judgments sensitive to cooperative and competitive dimensions of social dynamics? Other lines of work examine how cultural context influences social categorization and the acquisition of categories based on gender, race, and ethnicity.