Current Studies

The Center for Early Childhood Research has many ongoing studies that are currently recruiting participants. These studies are conducted via online formats such as Zoom meetings, surveys, and online games, making them accessible to families all over the country! Read below to learn more about our current studies.


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Human Nature and Potentials Lab

The Potential of Altruism (4-9 years)
Examines whether children are willing to endure harm in order to benefit others (more than themselves). Parents and children will join the study via Zoom.

The Valuation of Meaning (4-9 years)
Examines whether children have a need for meaning and whether they value meaningful activities. Parents and children will join the study via Zoom.

The Morality of Happiness (4-9 years)
Examines whether happiness is influenced by morality in children. We ask whether children view wrongdoers as happy or not. Parents and children will join the study via Zoom.

The Experience of Awe (4-9 years)
Examines if children recognize the distinct features of awe experience. Parents and children will join the study via Zoom.


Infant Learning and Development Lab

Children’s Thinking about Foreign Language Speakers (3-7 years)
In this study, we are investigating how children view people who speak a different language from them. Children will answer a few questions about people who speak English or a foreign language. Families will join the study via Zoom.

Children’s Reasoning about Conformity (4-8 years)
How are children thinking about norms and what types of actions are acceptable or not? We are examining whether neighborhood environments can influence this reasoning. Families will join this study via Zoom.

Problem Solving Game (5-6 years)
In this study, we want to understand how children learn by exploring independently. Children will play an online computer game with locks and keys to see whether they can figure out how to unlock the locks. This study is conducted via an online computer game played over Zoom.

Social Network Survey (6 months – 5 years)
We are interested in children’s social networks before and during the COVID-19 pandemic to track how the people children interact with changes over time! We are looking for parents to fill out a short online questionnaire and survey that should take less than 30 mins to complete.

Babies’ Expectations about Racial Interactions (8-14 months)
In this study, we are examining whether infants have different expectations about how people from the same racial background versus different racial backgrounds interact. This study will help us understand how babies start to pay attention to race and how early social experiences can shape this attention. You can access the study on our partnership website with MIT called Lookit. Access the study HERE.

Should I learn from you? (16 months, 15 days – 19 months, 15 days)
Most of what infants learn they learn from others. Here, we study if infants treat all information input equally. Do they prefer to learn from a person who acts irrationally, or a person who performs conventional and efficient actions? Your child will watch videos of an adult playing with toys and naming them, while we record their looking preferences. Families can join the study via Lookit, an online child lab from MIT. Log in or create an account and you will be able to contribute to science whenever and wherever you choose! Access the study HERE.


Cognitive Development Lab

Numbers and Amounts (4-6 years)
We are interested in how children learn about numbers and math. We will ask children to do different number and math activities, such as counting or telling us which of two numbers is bigger. The session takes about 30 minutes and takes place over Zoom.

A Zoom Study for 2.5- to 3.5-year-olds
We’re interested in how different contexts affect the words children use to label sets of objects. During the study, your child will interact with an experimenter as they take turns describing objects appearing on the screen. Families will join this study via Zoom.


The Social Kids Lab Online

3-10 years

The Social Kids Lab Online is a collaboration between two research groups: Development of Social Cognition (DSC) Lab led by Professor Katherine D. Kinzler and the Developmental Investigations of Behavior and Strategy (DIBS) Labs led by Professor Alex Shaw.

Our studies currently focus on many different social ideas that develop during childhood. When your child participates, they will most likely do two or three short study games that investigate a variety of topics. Each study game is designed to be entertaining and fun for kids, similar to something they might read or see at school.

Our study topics currently include how children think about:

Role models
Social values
Fairness, morality, and decision making
Resource distribution
Voting procedures
Rules and rule-making
Technology and robots
Judgments based on language characteristics
and Group communication

The study games typically involve seeing pictures of people, hearing different stories, and answering questions about what they think. We show our study materials through screen-sharing, and the researcher on the video call is usually a PhD student or undergraduate research assistant.