Pre-Conference Workshops

All the workshops will be held on Thursday, October 12th at the DoubleTree by Hilton Portland.

All Day Workshops

Question Asking in Childhood: Development, Continuity, and Constraints

8:00 AM- 5:00 PM

Speakers: Drs. Katerina Begus, Maureen Callanan, Kathleen Corriveau, David Klahr, Mary Gauvain, Simona Ghetti, Paul Harris, Jamie Jirout, Deborah Kelemen, Tania Lombrozo, Candice Mills, Samuel Ronfard, Azzurra Ruggeri, Makeba Wilbourn, Imac Zambrana

While a large body of research has investigated children’s acquisition of information through first-hand observation and experimentation, much less work has examined children’s ability to elicit information from other people through question-asking. Children’s ability to query others is remarkable because it attests to their coordination of a range of complex cognitive capacities and because it allows them to initiate and redirect pedagogical exchanges. It is therefore a catalyst for their ability to learn from others. However, despite its importance for cognitive developmental theorizing and its implications for educational practice, relative to other aspects of children’s exploratory behavior, research on children’s questions has been sparse. The ability to ask questions is present in infancy but undergoes rapid development during the preschool and elementary school years. Domain general cognitive abilities support children’s ability to ask informative questions while domain specific knowledge constrains the kind of information children seek. Despite clear age-related changes in their ability to use questions, individual children also differ substantially in their use of questions as an information-seeking strategy due to differences in their socio-cultural environments. This inter-disciplinary pre-conference brings together an international group of developmental scientists, cognitive psychologists, and educational psychologists at different career stages who have adopted diverse methods and theoretical frameworks in understanding question asking in childhood. The preconference aims to foster inter-disciplinary connections and stimulate interest in and new research on curiosity and question asking.

*Cost – $25 for students and post-docs, $45 for faculty

Digital Media & Cognitive Development

8:30 AM- 5:00 PM

Names and Contact information of the workshop organizers:

Dr. Rebekah Richert, University of California, Riverside,
Dr. Heather Kirkorian, University of Wisconsin-Madison,
Dr. Koeun Choi, University of California, Riverside,

Invited Speakers: Drs. David Uttal, Fran Blumberg, Georgene Troseth, Celeste Kidd, Rachel Flynn, Koeun Choi

Workshop Summary:

Digital media represent a growing influence in children’s lives that – to an increasing degree – crosscuts socioeconomic strata. This workshop on Digital Media and Cognitive Development comes at a critical time as researchers grapple with the theoretical and practical implications of digital media for cognitive development. This preconference will convene top scholars in cognitive development broadly and those who study the impact of digital media specifically. Additionally, this workshop will provide infrastructure for mentoring early career scholars who are interested in digital media and cognitive development. The current research landscape will be weighed in two panels of speakers: Direct and Indirect Learning from Digital Media (Panel 1) and Influence of Digital Media on Cognitive Development (Panel 2). The presenters will include leading researchers examining spatial learning and digital media (Dr. David Uttal), perceptions of learning while engaging in serious game play (Dr. Fran Blumberg), differences in device-supported interaction and parent social interaction in children’s learning from interactive devices (Dr. Georgene Troseth), and how interactive features of games can support or inhibit curiosity (Dr. Celeste Kidd). Additionally, presenters will include emerging scholars in the areas of gaming and executive functioning (Dr. Rachel Flynn) and memory and transfer of learning from touchscreens (Dr. Koeun Choi). Workshop attendees will have the opportunity to share their own research in a number of ways, such as during poster and data blitz sessions. Additionally, the schedule includes opportunities for networking and mentoring, such as during an escalator session that is designed to mix junior scholars, emerging scholars, and top researchers in small discussion groups.

More information: Please visit our event website for more information about scheduling, panelists, and opportunities to get involved by presenting your own work and/or meeting with a mentor.

Submission: To submit a poster or data blitz presentation, please click here to fill out the form

Registration (includes lunch & light morning & afternoon snacks): Graduate Student – $20; Early Career – $30; All others – $40


Developing Theories for Naive Sociology

8:00 AM- 5:00 PM

Chairs: Ashley Thomas & Elizabeth A Enright
Alison Gopnik, Renée Baillargeon, Alan Fiske, Lotte Thomsen, Andrew Scott Baron, Kiley Hamlin, Susan Gelman, Lawrence Hirschfeld

In this pre-conference, we ask how best to further our understanding of `naive sociology’. (Baillargeon et al., 2015; Hirschfeld, 1999; Kaufmann & Clément, 2014; Thomsen & Carey, 2013). Distinct from “naïve psychology” which allows us to infer an individual’s beliefs, preferences, goals etc., “naïve sociology” allows us to infer the relationships between people—for example you might see two people and infer they are friends, or see two people and infer that one person is `the boss’ of another person. Prompted from a growing body of empirical work on the subject (e.g. Powell & Spelke, 2013, Burns & Sommerville, 2014; Hamlin, Mahajan, Liberman, & Wynn, 2013; Mascaro & Csibra, 2014; Pun, Birch, & Baron, 2016; Thomsen, Frankenhuis, Ingold-Smith, & Carey, 2011). The goal of this pre-conference is to bring together scholars in the field to (1) present how they frame `naive sociology’, (2) define what they see as the most pressing questions moving forward. We hope to foster discussion and debate, and to encourage new empirical work and theory-building in the area.

Cost – $50 for graduate students, $65 for faculty members

Morning Workshops

The Coexistence of Contradictory Explanations Across Development and Cultures

9:00 AM- 12:00 PM

Andrew Shtulman, Cristine Legare, Karl Rosengren, Deborah Zaitchik, Joshua Rottman, Tamsin German
Conceptual development has traditionally been viewed as a process of replacement: scientific explanations of natural phenomena replace intuitive ones, natural explanations replace supernatural ones. A wealth of new research suggests that this view is incorrect – that conceptual development is a process of collecting explanations rather than replacing one explanation with another, even when the explanations at hand are logically incompatible. For any phenomenon (e.g., illness, death, adaptation, consciousness), humans have several ways of explaining that phenomenon, including scientific explanations, religious explanations, and folk explanations. These explanations are available not just to different individuals within a society, but to the same individual; they coexist within a single mind. In this workshop, we will explore the phenomenon of explanatory coexistence across domains (biology, physics, religion), populations (children, scientists, Alzheimer’s patients), and cultures (China, Vanuatu, Mexico). The presenters are six developmental psychologists breaking new ground in the study of explanatory coexistence: Tamsin German (University of California Santa Barbara), Cristine Legare (University of Texas Austin), Karl Rosengren (University of Wisconsin Madison), Joshua Rottman (Franklin & Marshall College), Andrew Shtulman (Occidental College), and Deborah Zaitchik (Harvard University). We will review the evidence for explanatory coexistence, discuss the implications of explanatory coexistence for theories of knowledge representation and knowledge acquisition, and brainstorm future directions for studying the causes and consequences of explanatory coexistence.

Cost – $10 per person

Collaborative Replication in Developmental Psychology

9:00 AM- 12:00 PM

Elika Bergelson, Michael C Frank, Rebecca Lundwall, Rhodri Cusack, Charles Ebersole, Kiley Hamlin, Justin Wood
In the last five years issues of replicability and reproducibility have come to the forefront in the social sciences. In psychology especially, a growing body of evidence suggests that limited sample sizes, flexible analytic strategies, and a lack of pre-specified study expectations have all contributed to a lower-than-ideal rate of replication. Although these issues are likely widely present in developmental research, and indeed even likely exacerbated by the difficulties of working with young participants, they have been discussed much less. This preconference will present the ManyBabies project, a collaborative replication project in developmental psychology. The first ManyBabies study, a large-scale replication of infants’ preference for Infant-Directed Speech (IDS), is currently ongoing. We will discuss how this project not only provides evidence on the magnitude and robustness of a particular effect, but also helps us to quantify both methodological and cultural variability in this effect. In addition, we will discuss our efforts to build a best-practices template for infancy research more generally. The goals of the workshop are both to situate the ManyBabies project amongst other ongoing collaborative projects and to provide specific guidance (in the form of dos-and-don’ts) for researchers (from students to PIs) who are interested in getting involved with large-scale collaborations. Attendees will leave with better understanding of several efforts currently underway for expanding collaboration and replicability efforts across areas of developmental science, and actionable steps for taking advantage of resources and knowledge often siloed in individual labs.

Click here for the detailed schedule

Cost – $5.00 per participant

Afternoon Workshops

The Ontogenetic Origin of Abstract Combinatorial Thought

12:30 PM- 5:30 PM

Susan E Carey, Dedre Gentner, Roman Feiman

Presupposing a representational/computation theory of mind leaves open what principled distinctions there are among kinds of representational systems exist. The adult human conceptual repertoire is a unique phenomenon earth. Human adults build hierarchical representations on the fly, distinguishing ‘Molecules are made of tiny atoms’ (True) from ‘Atoms are made of tiny molecules’ (False). It is unknown whether non-linguistic creatures are capable of representing structured propositions in terms of hierarchical structures formulated over abstract variables, assigning truth values to those propositions, or are capable of abstract relational thought. The present workshop concerns the ontogenetic origins of these capacities. Ever since Descartes (at least) some philosophers have argued that sensorimotor and perceptual representations are fundamentally different from linguistic ones, and are the only representational systems that are available to human infants. These discussions point to human language, and the conceptual representations that human language makes possible, as possibly fundamentally different from the other representational capacities of animals and prelinguistic infants. On this proposal, human language is the key to understanding the human
conceptual repertoire and the human capacity for language-like, combinatorial thought with complex logical form, such that the latter type of representation emerges in ontogenesis only upon the mastery of language. The workshop will be organized around two case studies of theoretical proposals concerning the putative joint in nature between pre-linguistic representations and linguistic ones with overlapping content (Case 1: abstract relations;  Case 2: propositions and logical connectives.) The workshop will explore how we can bring data to bear on whether, prior to mastering the relevant aspects of natural language, infants have representations with properties on the language-like side of the putative joint in nature.

Cost – $10 per person

Communicating Big Ideas in Science

1:00 PM- 5:00 PM

Confirmed Presenters: Alison Gopnik, Department of Psychology, University of California Berkeley; Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Department of Psychology, Temple University; Andrew Shtulman, Department of Psychology, Occidental College

Cognitive developmental psychologists are experts on topics that the general public cares about and wants to know more about: learning, memory, language, attention, imagination, play, cooperation, parenting, education. This workshop is intended to help the members of our community communicate more effectively with the general public. All forms of communication will be considered, from books to blogs, op-eds to tweets. Workshop attendees will circulate through three salons, discussing venues and formats for communicating our research to a non-academic audience, strategies for working with journalists and other media contacts to promote our work, and best practices for communicating our ideas through social media. The workshop will include presentations by three cognitive developmental psychologists who have experience communicating academic research beyond the confines of academia: Alison Gopnik, Professor of Psychology at the University of California Berkeley and author of The Philosophical Baby: What Children’s Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life and The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the New Science of Child Development Tells Us About the Relationship Between Parents and Children; Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Professor of Psychology at Temple University and author of Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children and Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less; and Andrew Shtulman, Associate Professor of Psychology at Occidental College and author of Scienceblind: Why Our Intuitive Theories About the World Are So Often Wrong.