The Development of Social Cognition Laboratory recently moved from the University of Chicago to Cornell University. We have active projects ongoing at both locations.




Katherine D. Kinzler, Ph.D.

Associate Professor 
Departments of Psychology and Human Development, Cornell University

Professor Kinzler’s research investigates the development of social cognition, with particular emphasis on exploring infants’ and children’s attention to the language and accent with which others speak as a marker of group membership. She is also interested in the development of face perception, social categories, empathy, cultural learning, and trust.

Department Website

University of Chicago Research Team


Lab Coordinator

Emily Gerdin

Emily graduated from the University of Chicago in 2014 with a major in Psychology and a minor in Religious Studies. Her honors thesis, conducted under the direction of Katherine Kinzler, explored children’s evaluations of others based on their displayed food preferences. From 2014 to 2015, she was a Fulbright Research Fellow in Israel, working with Dr. Gil Diesendruck on projects exploring how growing up in areas of ethno-religious conflict influences children’s social cognitive development.


Ph.D. Student

Jessica Bregant

Jessica’s research explores how people make decisions in legal contexts, incorporating insights and methods from developmental psychology, social psychology, economics, and law. She is also interested in moral and social development, and her current projects examine whether children share common adult intuitions about punishment and justice, and how those intuitions develop and translate into attitudes and behaviors. To learn more about Jessica's research, please see her website.





Nicole Baltazar, Ph.D.

Nicole currently works as a Research Analyst at Slover Linett Strategies, where she studies audience engagement at arts and culture organizations. She also teaches an Adolescent Psychology class to Chicago Public School teachers. Her research investigates how social cues influence face perception and memory in early childhood.



Jocelyn Dautel, Ph.D.

Jocelyn is now a Lecturer at Queen’s University, Belfast. Her Helping Kids- QUB! website has details about current research investigating children’s empathy and prosocial behaviors within a developmental intergroup framework. Jocelyn’s research investigates the development of social cognition, specifically, when and how children and adults categorize others into social groups, and how these categories guide further social preferences, inferences, and behavior. She is particularly interested in the influence of social context on these processes, including national and political context, diversity in one’s local environment, and perceptions of conflict.



Jasmine M. DeJesus, Ph.D.

Jasmine is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Human Growth and Development at the University of Michigan. She is primarily interested in understanding the way children think about food and in what ways they are sensitive to the cultural significance of food selection. Jasmine is integrating approaches from cognitive development and public health to investigate the sources, content, and consequences of children’s food concepts. To learn more about Jasmine's research, please see her website.



Samantha Fan, Ph.D.

Samantha is the Earl S. Johnson Instructor in Psychology at the Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences (MAPSS) at the University of Chicago. She advises MAPSS students on lab placements, course selections, faculty advisors, and MA thesis projects. Samatha’s primary research interest stems from a personal belief that culture plays a pivotal role in the development of self. She is also interested in the malleability of human prejudice.



Sarah Gaither, Ph.D.

Sarah is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience at Duke University. She completed the Provost's Post-Doctoral Scholarship at the University of Chicago from 2014-2016 after earning her Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Tufts University. Sarah’s research interests include examining how having multiple racial or social identities affect different cognitive and behavioral outcomes, how multiracial or racially ambiguous populations are treated and categorized, and the developmental underpinnings of stereotypes and prejudice. She also investigates how different types of intergroup contact and social context may affect interracial interaction outcomes differently. To learn more about Sarah's research, please see her website



Zoe Liberman, Ph.D

Zoe is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences at UC Santa Barbara. Zoe’s research falls under two broad categories. First, she is interested in how infants understand our complex social world: what makes an infant think that two people are likely to be in the same social category? Second, she studies how differences in social experiences, specifically regular exposure to multiple languages, influences how infants, children and adults perform on tasks that require effective communication. To learn more about Zoe's current work, please see her website.


Ashley Ransom

Ashley worked as the Development of Social Cognition’s lab manager from July 2014 to August 2015. She is now a Ph.D. student in Human Development at Cornell University. Her research examines children’s reasoning about language and accent, children’s essentialist beliefs about language, and the roles of language and food in early social group categorization.



Kathleen (Casey) Sullivan, Ph.D.

Casey is currently a Social Science Analyst in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the Department of Health and Human Services. Previously, she was a Presidential Management Fellow at the National Institutes of Health Office of Research on Women’s Health through the program’s inaugural STEM track. She completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Chicago from 2012-2014 after earning her Ph.D. in Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis. Casey’s research in early cognitive and social development has focused on the concepts and processes that infants and children use to navigate the social world.



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