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Research Projects



  Research Projects


At the Early Social Cognition Lab, we explore the way infants and young children learn from the social world around them.


Current reseach questions include:


>Memory for Social Events

How and why do children seem to learn most effectively in the presence of other people? What mechanisms might allow us to easily learn from others, even in the first few months of life?


>Learning from Specific Social Partners

Do children learn and remember information that is provided by some social partners over others? What attributes do infants attend to when deciding which person to trust?  Do certain life experiences alter the social partners that children prefer?



Recent research in the lab explores the ways in which human children are socially similar to non-human primates such as Chimpanzees, Gorillas, and Capuchin Monkeys. Do these non-human species remember social situations in ways that are similar to humans? Are there important differences in the way non-human primates attend to or learn from social situations that could tell us more about our own development? 


In order to answer these questions, we utilize fun and interact methods such as eye tracking, imitation games, and memory paradigms. These methods allow us to examine what infant, children, and non-human primates remember about events without relying on their ability to verbally tell us what they are thinking.

Research Projects


Lauren H. Howard, Ph.D
Principal Investigator, Lab Director
Roberto Martinez
Roberto is a senior from New York pursuing a joint major in psychology and government with a minor in French. He is involved in I.M.P.A.C.T., Mi Gente Latina, French Club, and the Ware Center. A fun fact about Roberto is that he was born in the Dominican Republic. 
Ryan Potts
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Ryan is a sophomore from Bethleham, PA double majoring in psychology and American studies with an Asian area studies minor. He is the house manager for Weis College House and is an active member of Japanese department events. A fun fact about Ryan is that he has played the drums since 4th grade!
Mary Schutt
Mary is a sophomore from Pennsylvania majoring in psychology with a Chinese language minor. She is involved in orchestra, philharmonia, and Asian American Alliance on campus. A fun fact about Mary is that she plays viola.
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Maddie Shaw
Maddie is a senior from Rhinebeck, NY and is double majoring in psychology and anthropology. She is involved in Chi Omega and Dance Company. A fun fact about Maddie is that she has three dogs!
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Francesca Testa
Francesca is a senior from Montclair, NJ double majoring in moral psychology and sociology. She is on the softball team, is a Sociology department student ambassador, and is a member of The Hidden Opponent. A fun fact about Francesca is that she is a triplet!

Former Research Assistants

Shen Wang

Zoe Finiasz 

Katherine (KT) Thomas

Peter Merani

Tess Flanagan 

Hye Rin Lee

Hannah Rodriguez

Emily Kolb

Peiru Yu

Enya Meade

Ellen Verry

Natalie Hutchins

You Jin Park

Fiona Waters

Julia McAleer

Lauren Hein




ManyPrimates et al. (2022). The evolution of primate short-term memory. Animal Behavior and Cognition, 9(4), 428-516.

Howard, L.H. & Decety, J. (2022). A cognitive neuroscience perspective on moral development. In M. Killen and J. Smetana (Eds.), Handbook of Moral Development. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Howard, L. H. & Lonsdorf, E.V. (2022). The eyes have it: Using non-invasive eye tracking to advance comparative social cognition research. In Primate Cognitive Studies. Cambridge University Press.

Flanagan, T., Rottman, J., & Howard, L.H. (2021). Constrained choice: Children’s and adults’ attribution of choice to a humanoid robot. Cognitive Science, 45(10), e13043.

Wakefield, E., Novack, M., Congdon, E., & Howard, L.H. (2021). Individual differences in gesture interpretation predict children’s propensity to pick a gesturer as a good informant. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 205, 105069. doi:10.1016/j.jecp.2020.105069


Hopper, L., Gulli, R., Howard, L. H., Kano, F., Krupenye, C., Ryan, A., Paukner, A. (2020). The application of noninvasive restraint-free eye tracking methods for use with nonhuman primates. Behavior Research Methods. doi: 10.3758/s13428-020-01465-6


Hopper, L., Jacobson, S., & Howard, L.H. (2020). The development of flexible problem solving in young children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 200, 104966. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2020.104966


Wakefield, E., Novack, M., Congdon, E., & Howard, L.H. (2020). Is she a good teacher? Children learn to use gestures as a marker of a good informant. Proceedings of the 42nd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society.


ManyBabies Consortium (2020). Quantifying sources of variability in infancy research using the infant-directed speech preference. Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science, 3(1). 24-52.

Howard, L.H., Riggins, T., & Woodward, A. (2020). Learning from others: The effects of agency of event memory in young children. Child Development, 91(4), 1317-1335doi: 10.1111/cdev.13303

Howard, L.H., & Woodward, A. (2019). Human actions support infant memory. Journal of Cognition and Development, 20(5), 772-789. doi: 10.1080/15248372.2019.1664549

Flanagan, T., Rottman, J., & Howard, L.H. (2019). Do Children Ascribe the Ability to Choose to Humanoid Robots? Proceedings of the 41st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Montreal, Canada.

Lonsdorf, E.V., Engelbert, L & Howard, L.H. (2019). A competitive drive? Same-sex attentional preferences in capuchins. American Journal of Primatology. doi: 10.1002/ajp.22998 

Chirls, J., Kaplan, M., Gebre-Ab, Y., Ortiz, M., & Howard, L.H. (2018). Shaping Perceptions by Hand: The Influence of Motor Fluency on Facial Expression Perception. Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Madison, Wisconsin.

Howard, L.H., Festa, C., & Lonsdorf, E. (2018). Through their eyes: The influence of social models on attention and memory in capuchin monkeys. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 13(2), 210-109.

Liberman, Z., Howard, L.H., Vasquez, N., Woodward, A. (2017). Children's expectations about conventional and moral behaviors of ingroup and outgroup members. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2017.03.003

Howard, L., Wagner, K., Woodward, A., Ross, S., Hopper, L. (2017). Social models enhance apes memory for novel events. Scientific Reports, 7, 40926. [link]


Howard, L., Henderson, A., Carrazza, C. & Woodward, A. (2014). Infants’ and  young children's imitation of linguistic ingroup and outgroup informants. Child Development, 86, 259-275. [link]


Howard, L., Carrazza, C., & Woodward, A. (2014). Neighborhood linguistic diversity predicts infants’ social learning. Cognition, 133, 474-479. [link]


Decety, J., & Howard, L. (2014). A neurodevelopmental perspective on morality. In M. Killen and J. Smetana (Eds.), Handbook of Moral Development. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. 


Decety, J., & Howard, L. (2014). Emotion, morality, and the developing brain. In M. Mikulincer and P. Shaver (Eds.), Mechanisms of Social Connection: From Brain to Group. Washington DC: American Psychological Association.   


Decety, J. & Howard, L. (2013) The role of affect in the neurodevelopment of morality. Child Development Perspectives, 7, 49-54. [link]


Barr, R., Shuck, L., Salerno, K., Atkinson, E., & Linebarger, D. (2010). Music interferes with learning from television during infancy. Infant and Child Development, 19, 313-331. [link]


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