Presently, we have ongoing projects that examine children's categorization in different domains including food, people, animals, and artifacts. In particular, our studies focus on classification and cross-classification. Classification involves categorizing a single item into just one category whereas cross-classification involves flexibly categorizing a single item into more than one category. For example, ice cream can be thought of as both a dairy product and birthday party item. Also, a person may potentially belong to many categories or fulfill many social roles such as being a parent, teacher, and athlete.

Inductive Reasoning

We also have ongoing projects that examine children's inductive reasoning, generalizing knowledge from one category member to another. For example, if a lactose intolerant child is trying to decide whether to eat ice cream, using the category of dairy product (as opposed to birthday party items) as a basis for generalization would allow the child to make a healthy decision. In addition, thinking of someone as a parent, teacher, or athlete (depending upon the context) may be important to understanding the complex behavior of a single person, and help children interact with the person on different occasions.

Applications to Children's Well-being

We have also begun a series of projects related to children's cognition and well-being. These projects are rooted in the field of positive developmental psychology, which focuses on children's strengths & virtues. In these projects we focus on concepts such as happiness, gratitude, and mindfulness in an effort to understand and enhance children's optimal functioning.