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Our Projects

How children
respond to

Humans are remarkably cooperative. One way in which we maintain cooperative societies is by responding to those who transgress.

In the M&M Lab, we're interested in understanding how children react when they encounter someone who breaks a social or moral norm. The majority of the work from the lab has focused on punishment, a willingness to impose a cost on a transgressor, but we are also interested in questions broadly related to justice restoration.

The main finding from our work is that children across the globe will punish transgressors & do so for a variety of reasons. 


How children
reason about
social obligations

Obligations are the social glue that hold our society together. We feel more obligated to help our family members than those who live in distant countries. Do children think similarly?

In the M&M Lab, we're invested in answering this question by examining which factors influence children's and adults' sense of obligation. For example, we're interested in understanding how kinship, friendship, physical distance, and social group membership shape children's sense of obligation. 

The main finding from our work is that children in many different countries tend to cast a wide net of social obligations at younger ages, and children's sense of social obligation becomes more constricted with age depending on cultural context.


How does group membership influence
social reasoning & behavior

Cooperation is not sustained in a vacuum. Instead, it is maintained with specific social context where people occupy many different social identities. 

In the M&M Lab, we're deeply interested in understanding how social groups shape cooperative behavior and reasoning. For example, we are curious about why some children develop prejudicial attitudes and want to understand what factors allow for these malignant beliefs to emerge in childhood.


Emerging Interests

Beyond the interests outlined above, the M&M is interested in exploring many other topics related to social cognitive development. 

In particular, the M&M Lab is interested in better understanding environmental & social influences that promote cooperation in addition to clarifying the underlying computational mechanisms of social decision-making. To explore these issues, the M&M Lab in collaboration with the Cooperation Lab at Boston College are developing an online space where children can participate in research called Cooperation Island. Stay tuned for more information! 

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