Relevant Degree Programs
Affiliations to Research Centres, Institutes & Clusters
Our work focuses on the early development of moral cognition and action in infancy.
Complete these steps before you reach out to a faculty member!
- Familiarize yourself with program requirements. You want to learn as much as possible from the information available to you before you reach out to a faculty member. Be sure to visit the graduate degree program listing and program-specific websites.
- Check whether the program requires you to seek commitment from a supervisor prior to submitting an application. For some programs this is an essential step while others match successful applicants with faculty members within the first year of study. This is either indicated in the program profile under "Admission Information & Requirements" - "Prepare Application" - "Supervision" or on the program website.
- Identify specific faculty members who are conducting research in your specific area of interest.
- Establish that your research interests align with the faculty member’s research interests.
- Read up on the faculty members in the program and the research being conducted in the department.
- Familiarize yourself with their work, read their recent publications and past theses/dissertations that they supervised. Be certain that their research is indeed what you are hoping to study.
- Compose an error-free and grammatically correct email addressed to your specifically targeted faculty member, and remember to use their correct titles.
- Do not send non-specific, mass emails to everyone in the department hoping for a match.
- Address the faculty members by name. Your contact should be genuine rather than generic.
- Include a brief outline of your academic background, why you are interested in working with the faculty member, and what experience you could bring to the department. The supervision enquiry form guides you with targeted questions. Ensure to craft compelling answers to these questions.
- Highlight your achievements and why you are a top student. Faculty members receive dozens of requests from prospective students and you may have less than 30 seconds to pique someone’s interest.
- Demonstrate that you are familiar with their research:
- Convey the specific ways you are a good fit for the program.
- Convey the specific ways the program/lab/faculty member is a good fit for the research you are interested in/already conducting.
- Be enthusiastic, but don’t overdo it.
G+PS regularly provides virtual sessions that focus on admission requirements and procedures and tips how to improve your application.
Graduate Student Supervision
Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - April 2022)
Human beings show a pervasive tendency to evaluate others based on their sociomoral behaviors. Recently, a growing literature demonstrates that even preverbal infants are sensitive to prosocial and antisocial interactions, suggesting that the rudimentary aspects of sociomoral evaluations may develop early in life (Ting et al., 2020). However, it remains unclear whether infants’ responses to sociomoral interactions are social in nature, and whether affective processes are involved when infants process sociomoral scenes. The current dissertation explores these questions by systematically examining infants’ real-time responses to helping and hindering interactions.In Chapter 1, I provide an overview of evidence for sensitivity to sociomoral scenarios in infancy and discuss how neurophysiological measures can shed light on the nature and mechanisms of this sensitivity. In Chapter 2, I examine how infants process sociomoral scenes by assessing infants’ eye-movement and pupillary responses to helping/hindering interactions using eye-tracking. Through a detailed analysis of infants’ visual attention and pupillary responses, I explore whether infants attend to socially relevant aspects of the displays, whether infants’ online looking behaviors predict social preferences, and whether infants show differential arousal responses to prosocial and antisocial scenarios. In Chapter 3, I examine infants’ neural responses to helping/hindering interactions using electroencephalography (EEG). By investigating whether helping/hindering scenarios and characters elicit differential responses in neural signatures of task-relevant mental processes, I explore whether helping/hindering interactions evoke approach-avoidance motivations and whether socially relevant neural processes are implicated when infants respond to prosocial/antisocial characters. Chapter 4 focuses on infants’ arousal/affective responses to sociomoral scenarios. Using facial electromyography (EMG), I explore whether infants show positive and negative facial responses when viewing helping/hindering scenarios. By assessing infants’ electrodermal activity (EDA) and pupillary responses, I examine whether infants’ arousal levels change in reaction to prosocial/antisocial interactions.Together, the results provide convergent evidence that infants’ responses to helping/hindering interactions are based on socially relevant processes, and that arousal/affective processes are implicated when infants respond to sociomoral scenarios. These findings provide a more holistic account of how different mental processes relate to infants’ sociomoral evaluations, and shed light on long-lasting debates about the nature and mechanisms of early sociomoral functioning.
The judgment of others’ actions as good and praiseworthy versus bad and blameworthy is fundamental to humans’ sociomoral functioning. The ability to produce such moral judgments was traditionally characterized as a relatively lengthy process, requiring years of experience and cognitive maturation. However, more recent research has demonstrated that even infants are sensitive to morally relevant interactions amongst third parties. What remains unclear is whether infants’ implicit sociomoral evaluations align with young children’s explicit moral judgments. This dissertation explores the maturity of preschoolers’ explicit moral judgments when presented with third-party social interactions similar to those used to demonstrate infants’ implicit moral sense. Chapter 1 provides relevant background information regarding the study of moral judgments across infancy and early childhood. Chapter 2 investigates whether infants’ preferences for those who help rather than hinder others’ unfulfilled goals align with preschoolers’ explicit social and moral judgments. Specifically, two experiments explore whether 3- to 5-year-olds selectively prefer helpers, judge helpers as “nicer” than hinderers, and selectively allocate punishment to hinderers across two different scenarios. Chapter 3 examines the extent to which preschoolers’ judgments are sensitive to individuals’ mental states: Three experiments investigate whether 3- and 4-year-olds’ social and moral judgments privilege others’ intentions to help versus hinder a third party or whether judgments are tied to the outcomes achieved. Chapter 4 explores preschoolers’ ability to consider the context in which helpful and unhelpful actions are performed. Specifically, two experiments investigate whether 3- and 4-year-olds differentially evaluate those who help versus hinder previously prosocial or antisocial others. Finally, Chapter 5 discusses the main findings of this dissertation and several open questions regarding the nature of young children’s moral judgments. Together, this dissertation represents a significant advancement in the understanding of young children’s social and moral cognition. By adapting paradigms developed to study implicit sociomoral evaluations, these studies document important similarities and dissimilarities between infants’ implicit moral sense and young children’s explicit morality.
Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2021)
Within the last five years, social sciences, especially psychology, have seen problems with replicability and reproducibility. A growing body of evidence suggests that low powered studies, undisclosed statistical flexibility and lack of pre-specified study standards are all contributing factors to a low rate of replicability. Within the realm of infant social evaluation, a topic of both theoretical interest and empirical controversy, both replications and non- replications exist. Given this, and the movement toward replication in psychology in general, this paper will present results both a pre-registered sample and a larger sample that directly replicates Hamlin & Wynn’s (2011) “box scenario”, which examines whether preverbal infants prefer prosocial to antisocial others. Our pre-registered sample did not replicate the original finding seen in Hamlin & Wynn (2011). However, when including all infants tested in the box scenario, the finding did indeed replicate. Overall, our findings add to the scientific understanding of infant social evaluation and provide an important opportunity to add to the replicability movement.
The present study examined developmental continuity in social functioning from infancy to preschool. Specifically, we examined the relationships between infants’ performance on sociomoral evaluation studies and parent report of their preschool social functioning. Infants’ performance, emotional stability (fuss-out rate), and average habituation rate in moral evaluation tasks were collected. Preschool social functioning was measured through parent-report online scales. The results showed 1) that better performance on infant moral evaluation studies was associated with lower rates of parent report of preschool attention problems, social responsiveness problems, and callousness-unemotional traits, as well as higher rates of parent report of adaptive social skills, 2) that fuss-out rate across infant moral evaluation studies was positively associated with parent report of preschool anxiety, depression, and withdrawal, 3) that the relationships between the performance on infant moral evaluation studies and parent-report preschool functioning were stronger for males than for females, and that 4) these relationships were domain-specific. Together these findings provide preliminary evidence for longitudinal continuity in social functioning from infancy to preschool.
Mature moral judgments rely on the analysis of both the outcomes of others’ actions and the mental states that drive them. Past research has shown that when there is conflict between outcome and intention, young children rely on outcome information to evaluate others, while older children and adults privilege intention (Piaget, 1932/1965). This suggests that there is a shift from outcome-based to intention-based judgments occurring in development.However, the current study suggests that even 10-month-old infants evaluate moral agents on the basis of their underlying mental states. Infants were presented with puppet shows in which a protagonist was either intentionally or accidentally helped or hindered. Infants were then given a forced choice between the accidental and intentional puppets. Results indicate that infants’ preference for the accidental versus the intentional character differed by condition [χ²(1, N = 60)= 11.28, p