Studying the development of religious concepts provides a unique framework for studying the interaction between cognitive predispositions in information processing and cultural input. Within this line of research, our lab studies children’s developing concept of God, the soul, and origin beliefs. Currently, we are conducting research into the role religious rituals play in the development of religious concepts, and the ways in which children understand prayer and communication with the supernatural.
Our lab examines how children’s understanding of the distinction between fantasy and reality relates to their learning from storybooks, television, DVDs, and interactive media. We have conducted studies on whether 12- to 24-month-old children learn from baby videos, the factors that influence whether preschool children will transfer information learned in fantasy stories to real-world situations, and the conditions under which preschool children learn from screen media.
Additionally, we are exploring how interactive media may provide a unique kind of scaffolding to learning for children by conducting and designing studies focused on how tablet games and apps might impact how children learn and remember both educational (STEM) and non-educational content.
Currently, we are conducting research on how the cultural context shapes how children and adults think about the causes and treatments of different types of illnesses.