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​Current Projects

We are busy investigating a wide variety of really interesting questions. Read a little more about them below.

Are abstract thinking and inhibitory control related?  

Abstract thinking is an important aspect of cognitive development that typically begins during early adolescent years. This study hopes to explore this developmental process specifically looking at the role of inhibitory control in adolescents. The study will examine how adolescent’s problem solving skills are affected when inhibitory control tasks are performed both before and after the problem solving tasks.
 

Does stress increase a child’s creativity?

This study will attempt to see if children's creativity increases after being exposed to a stressful situation. After participating in a situation that makes them feel mildly anxious or nervous, children will be given an artistic task to complete. Stress levels throughout the study and creativity will be measured.  
 

How do people mentally represent pretend actions?

When you think about someone pretending, how does your mind process that information? Does a child's mind process it in the same way as an adult's does? We are studying this question by having children and adults listen to or read about people pretending. Then we measure how quickly they are able to respond to ideas that were present in those stories. 

How do children navigate the boundary between pretense and reality?

Do adults ever confuse pretense and reality?  Do they bring real-world rules into forms of pretending?  We previously investigated these questions with children, and are now curious about this particular difference in the minds of children and adults. One study we are doing explores whether adults think it is okay to break a moral rule in a pretend situation..

This study is being done in collaboration with alumna Anne Fast, currently at the University of Washington.

Recent Projects

Do children prefer to learn from people have the same beliefs as they do?

Young children equate pretending with behaving, while older children realize pretending involves the mind and brain. We found that children would rather learn about pretending from a person who understands pretending in the same way they do.

This study was done in collaboration with David Sobel at Brown University.

Are pretending and inhibitory control related? Are prosocial behaviors and inhibitory control related?

Several of our studies probe the link between preschoolers' abilty to control their own minds and bodies and their ability to pretend.  Our results strongly suggest that having good control is good for pretending!  And, we have found a similar relationship between preschoolers' posocial behaviors, like helping and sharing, and good inhibitory control.

How does pretend play influence literacy skills in preschool?

We know that play and literacy are positively related.  But, we don't know why this might be. In collaboration with Marcy Zipke, Assistant Professor of Education, we have explored why play is good for literacy skills.

Catholic and Dominican

What does it mean to be a Catholic and Dominican college? We invite you to explore this question and the distinctive mission of Providence College.
About Providence College's Catholic and Dominican Identity