Gopnik Lab

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In the Gopnik Lab, we are particularly interested in how children learn causal relations – cases where one event causes another. For example, we are all quick to understand that flipping a light switch causes a light to turn on, or that yelling at somebody might cause them to become upset. However, our world is chock full of causal relations – so full of them that it’s sometimes hard to imagine how children come to understand their world so thoroughly in only a few short years! We investigate exactly how children acquire very sophisticated understandings and representations of the causal world around them.

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Primary Investigator: Alison Gopnik, Ph.D.

Alison Gopnik is a professor of psychology and affiliate professor of philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley. She received her BA from McGill University, and her PhD. from Oxford University. She is an internationally recognized leader in the study of children’s learning and development and was the first to argue that children’s minds could help us understand deep philosophical questions. She was also one of the founders of the field of “theory of mind”, an originator of the “theory theory” of children’s development, and more recently, introduced the idea that probabilistic models and Bayesian inference could be applied to children’s learning. She has held a Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences Fellowship, the Moore Distinguished Scholar fellowship at the California Institute of Technology, and the All Souls College Distinguished Visiting Fellowship at Oxford. She is an elected member of the Society of Experimental Psychologists and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a fellow of the Cognitive Science Society.

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Ages Testing: 3-14 year olds and adults