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

 >Natalie Hutchins

  Lab Manager


>You Jin Park 

  Researching Assistant

>Fiona Waters

  Research Assistant

>Julia McAleer

  Researching Assistant 

>Lauren Hein

  Researching Assistant 



Former Research Assistants

  Zoe Finiasz 

  Katherine (KT) Thomas

  Peter Merani

  Tess Flanagan 

  Hye Rin Lee

  Hannah Rodriguez

  Emily Kolb

  Peiru Yu

  Enya Meade

  Ellen Verry





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]