Developmental Psychology

The Thoughtful Animal

Category archives for Developmental Psychology

What is learning? Most psychologists (indeed, most people in general) would agree that learning is the acquisition of new knowledge, or new behaviors, or new skills. Hungarian psychologists Gergely and Csibra offer a deceptively simple description: “Learning involves acquiring new information and using it later when necessary.” What this means is that learning requires the…

There’s a very well-known experiment in developmental psychology called the “A-not-B task.” The experiment goes something like this: you, the experimenter, are seated opposite a human infant. Within the reach of both you and the child are two boxes: box “A,” and box “B.” You hide a toy in “A,” in full view of the…

PsychBytes is an experiment: three recent findings in psychology, each explained in three paragraphs or less. Generally, these are papers that I wouldn’t have otherwise covered in this blog. Please share your thoughts on this model in the comments. What works, and what doesn’t? Would you like more PsychBytes in the future? What’s In A…

Despite the fact that my research lies at the intersection between cognitive, comparative, and developmental psychology, I am also quite interested in the evolution of our understanding of psychopathology. The ultimate goal of the study of psychopathology is to ground such disorders in brain and body. But our understanding of some pathologies are simply not…

In 1975, Edward Tronick and colleagues first presented the “still face experiment” to colleagues at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development. He described a phenomenon in which an infant, after three minutes of “interaction” with a non-responsive expressionless mother, “rapidly sobers and grows wary. He makes repeated attempts to get…

Children and Their Pets

Your humble narrator finds himself sick with a cold, so here’s a post from the archives. There is considerable research on how children interact with other children and with adults, and how child development can be influenced by those interactions. But research on children’s interactions with non-human animals seem to be limited. Given how ubiquitous…

Morality and convention are so mired in culture that it may seem near impossible to determine the extent to which biology and environment give rise to it. And yet it is possible to investigate the evolutionary origins of morality. Research with infants – especially pre-verbal infants – who have not yet been sufficiently exposed to…

Origins of Mind 101

If I had to describe the mission, the point, the raison d’etre of the entire field of psychology in just one sentence, I would say: Psychology aims to determine the relative extents to which biology and experience determine cognition and behavior.” And, as you might expect, there are widely differing schools of thought. Nativists emphasize…

This post considering the evolutionary origins of numerical cognition, specifically in terms of the approximation of large numbers, is meant as a companion to this week’s series on the developmental origins of numerical cognition and developmental dyscalculia, at Child’s Play. What are the origins of number representation in the mind? Are there any innate building…

If there is one book that every human should read, it is The Invisible Gorilla, by Chris Chabris and Dan Simons. I suppose that’s a pretty bold statement to make. Let me explain. As a student of psychology, and as someone who studies and writes about the mind, I am overwhelmed with the general perception…