The central goal of my research program is to understand how children navigate the social world and, specifically, how they sustain cooperative relationships. I situate this focus in the broader context of the development and evolution of social cognitive abilities in humans and other animals. Studying the development of cooperative behavior in children not only offers valuable insight into the ontogeny of the cognitive mechanisms underpinning cooperation but also sheds light on how such mechanisms may have been shaped over evolutionary time.
To understand the development and evolution of the social-cognitive abilities involved in cooperation, I combine work on human children and adults with studies of non-human animal populations. In doing so, I address both the processes that support cooperative behavior and cognition in humans and the social and ecological pressures that have shaped cognition and behavior in other cooperative societies. Below I detail how my specific projects contribute to this broader research agenda.