Centre for Infant Cognition

The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia
What the facility does

Social evaluation and moral reasoning in infancy

Area(s) of Expertise

The Centre for Infant Cognition focuses on the role of evaluative processes in everyday cognitions about the world. In particular, we examine the tendency to judge individuals’ actions as good or bad, as deserving of reward or punishment and as morally praiseworthy or blameworthy. In addition, we ask whether and how these social and moral evaluations influence our understanding of others’ future acts, their mental states and their underlying personalities. Because adults have been exposed to a lifetime of experience with social others and cultural norms, it is difficult to distinguish the relative role of built-in mechanisms versus experience in human sociality. Our research attempts to do so by studying a population that lacks extensive experience, language and mature executive functioning: the preverbal infant. Determining exactly how infants understand and exist within the sociomoral world would go a long way toward understanding the true nature of human sociality and the specific role of experience in development.

Research Services

Social evaluation in infancy, Analysis of infant emotional response to pro-social and anti-social cues

Sectors of Application
  • Education
  • Health care and social services
  • Policy and governance

Specialized lab

Equipment

Function

Morality Play Lab

Puppet theatre and multidirectional cameras

A specialized lab room equipped with a puppet stage for displaying morality plays is outfitted with state-of-the-art cameras for recording participant reactions to stimuli from all angles

Video Display Lab

52-inch LCD TV display and multidirectional cameras

A specialized lab room equipped with a large-screen LCD TV and state-of-the-art cameras in which infants watch carefully controlled animations of social interactions and movies of human actors

Interactive Study Lab

Structured playroom and multidirectional cameras

A specialized lab room equipped with state-of-the-art cameras where infants interact directly with experimenters at a table or on the floor