What do you study?
We're interested in the ways in which social and self-control processes together and separately relate to various socio-emotional outcomes, such as behavioral and interpersonal problems. These processes are what we call individual differences – traits that kids are born with and, in combination with with experiences and environmental contributors, to lead to differential outcomes.
In terms of current work, we’re pursuing a number of different studies. One of the big ones at the moment entails collecting data from children (3-5 years) in daycare settings looking at social processes during naturalistic observations. So we’re watching kids play with each other, coding basic social behaviors, and considering the way in which individual differences traits contribute to variation in these behaviors.
The other area of the work we do is with nonhuman primates. Our goal is to collect parallel data from children and nonhuman primates to allow us to look at common sets of inhibitory control as well as social processes and consider neurobehaviorally-based pathways to various behavioral outcomes across species.
How might families benefit from your research?
The current work we’re doing exposes kids to the research process, which gets kids interested and excited just about even using the word “research.” Having that sort of word as part of kids’ vocabulary and knowing what that is early helps support kids’ interest in science and math.
What would parents really like to know about your research?
A lot of what we’re interested in is the variation among kids. And the idea that that variation among kids is why the same experience and the same context result in different outcomes.