Social Cognitive Development Lab

In the Social Cognitive Development Lab, directed by Dr. Annie Riggs, we study how children learn and reason about their social worlds. We are currently focused on children’s understanding of complex social behavior, such as social norms, and children’s perceptions of social groups, such as gender.

 

 

Research Projects

Parent-Child Gender Socialization

Parents are considered to be the most influential models of gender roles and stereotypes. Children model the behaviors that they see demonstrated by their parents or associated with their gender. In this study, we are interested in parents’ and children’s preferences for different types of items marketed for boys, girls, or both boys and girls. We will send a survey for parents to complete on their own (~15 minutes) and then schedule a ~10-15 minute zoom session in which children will select their favorite toys, clothing, and decor options. This study is designed for children ages 3 to 7.

Gender Norms

Children rapidly acquire knowledge of gender norms in their first few years of life. They see examples of people following gender norms and of people breaking gender norms. In this study, we are interested in children’s perceptions of people who act counter to traditional gender norms and how those perceptions change across early development. To address this question, we describe made-up children who either conform to gender norms or who violate gender norms and walk participants through short stories in which they have to guess how the made-up children will behave. This study is designed for children ages 4 to 8 and takes approximately 15 minutes to complete.

Social Rules in Pretend Play

Is it ok or is it not ok to pretend to wear your pajamas to work? Or to pretend to sleep with your shoes on? We are interested in children’s pretend play and how children use pretending to learn about the social world. In particular, we are interested in what 3- to 5-year-old children think about pretending to do things that would be very unusual in the real world, like eating a hamburger for breakfast. This study takes about 15-20 minutes to complete and is being conducted in collaboration with the Social & Moral Development Lab!

Learning New Math Strategies

What types of examples are most effective when students are learning new math strategies? We want to understand how children learn math from different people represented in textbooks. Our lab is working with the Intergroup Cognition Lab to conduct this study.

 

 

People

Annie Riggs, PhD

Annie Riggs, PhD

Director of the Social Cognitive Development Lab Annie is an Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department at WWU. She received her Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2016 and her B.A. in psychology and philosophy from the University of California Berkeley in 2009. In her free time she enjoys yoga, cooking, and exploring the beautiful Pacifiic Northwest with her family. Also pictured: future participant of the SCD Lab, Eden! As a child, Annie wanted to be a meteorologist and her favorite books were the Boxcar Children and Harry Potter.

Sara Bahten

Sara Bahten

Research Assistant

Sara is a sophomore at Western Washington University. She is pursuing a Psychology major with a Linguistics and Japanese minor. In her free time she enjoys woodcarving, origami, and going to the park with her dog. Along with classes she also works at the WWU Music Library. Sara is considering working as a social worker or speech-language pathologist. When she was little, she wanted to run an animal sanctuary and her favorite book was The Tomten.

Drew Wright

Drew Wright

Graduate Student

Drew is a 2nd year Master's student in the Experimental Psychology program. She received her B.A. in Psychology and Spanish Language in 2016 from Carroll College in Helena, MT. Upon graduation from WWU, she plans on continuing on to a Doctoral program in Developmental Psychology. In her free time she enjoys baking, reading, and needlework. Her favorite book is Edith Hamilton's Mythology. When she was little, Drew wanted to grow up to be a pop star or a chef.

Ayden Belsky

Ayden Belsky

Senior Research Assistant Ayden is a sophomore studying Psychology and Dance at Western Washington University. In her free time she enjoys hiking and exploring the outdoors, spending time with friends, and dancing. Ayden also enjoys working as an Executive Function Coach at the Sendan Center, and upon graduation plans to attend a graduate program in the field of psychology. As a child, Ayden wanted to be a professional ballerina, and her favorite book was Harry Potter.

Maria Gilmour

Maria Gilmour

Research Assistant  

Maria Gilmour is a Psychology major at Western and she hopes to go into counseling. Her favorite book is The Hobbit. When she was young she wanted to grow up to be a horse.  

Publications

Riggs, A.E. (2020). Is or ought? Reactions to violations help children to distinguish norms and regularities. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology194, 104822.

Riggs, A.E. & Long, M. (2020) The Domain Frequency Association: A mental shortcut to guide children’s generalization of norms and preferences. Cognitive Development54, 100853.

Riggs, A.E.(2019) Social Statistics: Children use statistical reasoning to guide their inferences about the scope of social behavior. Developmental Psychology.  

Riggs, A.E., Alibali, M.W., & Kalish, C.W. (2017). Does it Matter How Molly Does it? Person-Presentation of Strategies and Transfer in Mathematics. Contemporary Educational Psychology.  

Riggs, A.E. & Kalish, C.W. (2016). Children’s Evaluations of Rule Violators. Cognitive Development.  

Riggs, A.E. & Young, A.G. (2016). Developmental changes in children's normative reasoning across learning contexts and collaborative roles. Developmental Psychology.   

Riggs, A.E., Alibali, M.W., & Kalish, C.W. (2015). Leave her out of it: Person-presentation of strategies is harmful for transfer. Cognitive Science. doi.org/10.1111/cogs.12224  

Riggs, A.E., Kalish, C.W., & Alibali, M.W. (2014). Property content guides children’s memory for social learning episodes. Cognition, 131 (2), 243-253.  doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2014.01.004   

Riggs, A.E., Kalish, C.W., & Alibali, M.W. (2014). When you’ve seen one, have you seen them all? Children’s memory for general and specific learning episodes. Developmental Psychology, 50(6), 1653-1659. doi: 10.1037/a0036130     

Lab Photos

lab
lab
lab