What are the mechanisms that underlie our early social evaluations and inferences? Further, how do core structures of cognition enable us to reason about, and apprehend, the social world prior to extensive experience with it?
Broadly speaking, I investigate social cognitive development in infancy and early childhood. More specifically, I assess the extent to which cues to category membership, familiarity, and similarity are weighed in children’s reasoning about social groups. To this end, I study how children evaluate others based on their labeled group membership, preferences, appearance, and status as either liked or disliked by a familiar other. In related work, I study infants’ attribution of mental states to in- versus out-group members.