Who We Are
The Child Development Research Group (CDRG) is comprised of three research labs within the Department of Psychology at Western Washington University. We conduct and publish cutting edge research on the development of children’s social cognition. The CDRG is always eager to welcome children and families as participants in our fun and interactive studies.
Annie Riggs, Ph.D.
Director, Social Cognitive Development Lab
Dr. Riggs, director of the Social Cognitive Development Lab, joined the faculty of Western Washington University in 2016. She received her B.A. in Psychology at the University of California Berkeley in 2009 and her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin in 2016. Her research explores how children learn about their social worlds, particularly the complex social behaviors that we commonly refer to as social “norms.” She has studied this question from multiple angles, including how children utilize statistical data and emotional reactions to learn norms, how children respond to violations of norms, and how children exercise their knowledge of norms in pretend play. At WWU, Dr. Riggs teaches courses on cognitive development, lifespan development, and research methods and statistics.
Antonya Gonzalez, Ph.D.
Director, Intergroup Cognition Lab
Dr. Gonzalez joined the psychology faculty at Western in 2018. She earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of British Columbia, and prior to that, received her B.A. in Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Gonzalez’s current research investigates what types of beliefs children have about members of different social groups and how these beliefs affect children’s behavior toward these individuals. In past work she has studied children’s stereotypes and attitudes about race, gender, and wealth, as well as interventions to reduce harmful biases. She currently teaches upper-level psychology classes about social cognition and socioemotional development. Outside of the office, Dr. Gonzalez enjoys hiking, travelling, yoga, and running.
Annie Fast, Ph.D.
Director, Social & Moral Development Lab
Dr. Fast joined the psychology faculty at Western Washington University in 2018. She received a B.A. in Psychology from Providence College and earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Washington. Her research primarily explores young children's early capacity for prosocial behavior, specifically the motivations underlying children's generosity. In addition to understanding children’s own social and moral behavior, Dr. Fast’s research explores the development of social and moral evaluations/judgments. Currently, Dr. Fast and her team of undergraduate researchers are investigating children’s experience of joy from giving and children’s social evaluations in pretend play. At Western, Dr. Fast teaches courses on lifespan development, cognitive development, and research methods and statistics.