The Development of Social Cognition Laboratory    

at The University of Chicago

Social Kids Lab Online

A virtual collaborative research group

Open Access

All you need to participate is a computer and webcam.

Forward Thinking

Innovative new ways of conducting research in child development

Working Together

Read more about the DSC and DIBS labs to understand our deeper connection

FAQs & Support

Read our outline of study set-up below, and contact us with any issues

Contribute to science by playing fun, interactive games with a university researcher from the comfort of your own home. 


The Social Kids Lab Online is a collaboration between two research groups in the Center for Early Childhood Research at the University of Chicago. These are the Development of Social Cognition (DSC) Lab led by Professor Katherine D. Kinzler and the Developmental Investigations of Behavior and Strategy (DIBS) Labs led by Professor Alex Shaw. If you have any questions at all, feel free to reach out to our Lab Manager, Gemma Smith at


Study Topics

Our studies currently focus on leadership, fairness, and resource distribution. They are short and fun for kids – sort of like an interactive interview. They typically involve seeing pictures of people, hearing different stories, and answering questions about what they think. We show our study materials through screen-sharing, and the researcher on the video call is usually a PhD student or undergraduate assistant.

For example, your child might see and hear about two different people who want to lead their classrooms, but these two people have different ideas about fairness. They will then be asked to vote for which person they think would be a better leader. There are no right or wrong answers, we are just interested in how children think about these concepts.


Sign up for a study

You can schedule a time for your child participate in an online study using our self scheduling calendarWe will send you a confirmation email 24 – 48 hours before your scheduled study that includes our online parent consent form, the Zoom video call link, and more information about the specifics of your study.

 FAQs / What To Expect

What equipment do I need?

A computer or tablet with an internet connection and camera/microphone. Unfortunately we can’t do the studies on smartphones at this time.

What ages of children are eligible?

We currently have studies for children ages 3-10.

If you have younger kids, see the Center for Early Childhood Research for more labs that study infants and toddlers.

Does it matter where I live?

Any child in the United States within our current age range that understands and speaks English can participate.


I have more than one child. Do I need multiple appointments?

You only need one appointment time! Your children can participate one after the other.


How long does it take? 

The study will take about 15 minutes per child (e.g., 15 minutes for one child, 30 minutes for two children, 45 minutes for three children).

What will the format be? 

A researcher will meet your family on the video call at your scheduled time. We primarily use Zoom, which is a free online platform for video calling. 

At the start of the call, we’d like the parent and children to be on the video call together to meet the researcher, hear about the study, and have the chance to ask questions.

Then, your child will start the study. If you have multiple children participating, each child will participate one at a time. As siblings often play the same games, we ask that, if at all possible, children don’t watch each other participate (so they are not influenced by one another!) 

Can the parent stay with their child and watch the study?

Kids tend to be more honest and open if their parents aren’t watching them participate. However, if parents prefer to stick around and listen to the study they are welcome to. We just ask that they not suggest answers or instruct the child participating. 

Is there compensation?

As a thank-you, your family will receive a $5 Amazon gift card per child that participates, which we will send to the email address you provide on the consent form.


Do parents participate? 

Depending on the study your child does, we may ask you to complete similar measures or fill out additional questionnaires that relate to the topics being studied with your child. By having adult comparisons for our study questions, we are better able to understand children’s responses and how their social development relates to the adults in their life.


How do I sign up?

The easiest way is to use our self scheduling calendar.

You can also fill out our contact form with your family’s information or email us at

Join our contact list

Interested in our research but not ready to schedule a study yet? Fill out the contact form below and we will be in touch with you soon with more information about current projects and studies we are running.