Our Research

The researchers in the Center for Early Childhood Research use innovative and varied methods to investigate the early development of critical abilities, including language, social understanding, mathematical and spatial abilities, higher order thinking skills, empathy, and moral reasoning.

Human Performance Lab

Sian Beilock

Stella M. Rowley Professor of Psychology

President, Barnard College 

How do stress and pressure affect learning and performance?

One major goal of our research is to understand how parents’ attitudes affect students’ performance. By understanding how stress affects the brain and body, we can develop simple psychological tools to help students perform at their best. All of our work is done with the goal of improving education.    


The Child Neurosite

Jean Decety

Irving B. Harris Distinguished Service Professor


How is a child’s sense of right and wrong affected by their genes, brains, and behavior?

In the Child NeuroSuite, we examine children’s developing understanding of social and moral behavior. We use EEG, eye-tracking, and genetic information, along with behavioral tasks, to look at the different factors that affect children’s moral development.


Goldin-Meadow Lab

Susan Goldin-Meadow, Ph.D

Bearsdley Ruml Distinguished Service Professor


What are the foundations of language and communication? How do gestures and words affect learning?

We’re interested in studying gesture and language. A main focus of our lab is Nicaraguan Sign Language (NSL), which is a relatively new language, and the similarities and differences between NSL and the signs that deaf babies create before being exposed to sign language. We’re also interested in how gestures help children learn.


Development of Social Cognition (DSC) Lab

Katherine D. Kinzler, Ph.D.

Professor of Psychology

Deputy Dean, Division of the Social Sciences


Katherine D. Kinzler is a Professor of Psychology and Deputy Dean of the Social Sciences at the University of Chicago. Her research sits at the intersection of developmental and social psychology.  Her work focuses on the origins of prejudice and ingroup/outgroup thinking, with an emphasis on understanding how language and accent mark social groups. She is also interested in food cognition and moral psychology.  

Professor Kinzler joined the faculty of the University of Chicago Department of Psychology in 2008, as a Neubauer Family Assistant Professor.  She spent 2015-2019 at Cornell University, where she was most recently the Chair of the Department of Psychology. She completed her B.A. at Yale in Cognitive Science, her Ph.D. at Harvard in Psychology, and she was a Fulbright Scholar at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the John Templeton Foundation. Her work has appeared regularly in the New York Times and other media outlets, and she was named a “Young Scientist,” one of 50 scientists under age 40 recognized by the World Economic Forum.

Please visit the Development of Social Cognition Lab for current projects, collaborators, and media.

Contact: kinzler@uchicago.edu

Developmental Investigations of Behavior and Strategy Lab

Alex Shaw

Assistant Professor of Psychology



How do kids decide what is fair?

Kids learn the importance of sharing from an early age. Just like adults, children are concerned with what others think about them. How do children understand what fair behavior looks like? How do children change their own behavior to affect the way that others think about them?


Cognitive Development Lab

Susan Levine

Rebecca Anne Boylan Professor in Education and Society


How do early life experiences affect development?

We look at how children interact with their parents and teachers to understand the ways that children learn from adults, focusing on math and spatial learning. We also study long-term development in children who experienced prenatal brain injuries.


Learning Lab

Lindsey Richland

Associate Professor of Comparative Human Development


What do children learn and reason in everyday contexts?

Children are amazing learners, both in and out of school, and the Learning Lab seeks to understand how their thinking and reasoning skills develop and change over time. We’re interested in how children learn and how we can create better learning environments to set children up for success. Our lab is especially interested in math and science learning, and we work with children from preschool to college.


Infant Learning and Development Lab

Amanda Woodward

William S. Gray Distinguished Service Professor of Psychology

Dean, Division of the Social Sciences


How do babies and children understand social behavior?

We’re interested in how babies learn and grow, especially using input from parents and caretakers. We’re curious about the ways that culture and social context affect children’s learning and development.


Communication and Learning Lab

Daniel Yurovsky, PhD.

Assistant Professor of Psychology



How do children learn language?

Young children learn the meanings of thousands of words by the time they can run down the street. How do the same kids who forget where they leave their coats and mittens almost daily learn language so quickly? We’re interested in the way that parents and children work together and coordinate on language learning.