Centre for Infant Cognition

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

Studies social evaluations and moral reasoning in preverbal infants and young children.

Areas of expertise

The Centre for Infant Cognition focuses on the earliest developmental origins of social and moral development. Our research seeks to elucidate the relative roles played by built-in mechanisms and experience in human morality by studying a group that lacks extensive experience, language, and mature executive functioning: preverbal infants. In particular, we examine children’s tendency to judge individuals’ actions as good or bad, as deserving of reward or punishment, and as morally praiseworthy or blameworthy.  In studying this young population, we use a wide range of creative methodologies including puppet shows, video studies, and interactive studies. We measure infants’ behaviours, responses, and preferences through both traditional methodologies (e.g. looking time coding, behavioural coding, and choice procedures) as well as more complex technologies, including eye-tracking software, facial electromyography (fEMG), electroencephalography (EEG), electrodermal activity (EDA). Investigating how preverbal infants navigate the sociomoral world will greatly contribute to our understanding of human nature.

Research services

Cognitive development, social and moral development, community engagement, science education

Sectors of application
  • Education
  • Healthcare and social services
  • Policy and governance

Specialized facility 



Morality Play Lab

Puppet theatre and multidirectional cameras

A specialized lab room with a puppet stage for displaying shows and cameras for recording participant reactions

Video Display Lab

52-inch LCD TV display and multidirectional cameras

A specialized lab room with a large-screen LCD TV and cameras in which infants watch various shows

Interactive Study Lab

Structured playroom, multidirectional cameras and a 74-inch Projector Screen

A specialized lab room with cameras where infants interact directly with experimenters at a table or on the floor

Eye-Tracking Study Lab

24-inch computer screen with an attached eye-tracker (infra-red camera) and multidirectional cameras

A specialized lab room with a computer screen, small infra-red eye-tracker camera, and cameras to capture reactions