About Us

At the StarLab for Mind and Development we investigate how children and adults reason about the social and moral world. Many of the research topics we are interested in lie at the intersection of psychology and philosophy, including topics such as morality, other minds, ownership, fairness, and knowledge.

Our child studies are designed as fun and interesting games for typically developing children from infancy to age 12. They usually take about 10 - 15 minutes, and require only one visit. They are very enjoyable for both children and their parents!

The StarLab is also part of the University of Toronto's Child Study Centre, a group of five research centres interested in cognitive and social development from birth to adulthood.

Below, you can find out more about our ongoing research topics, some recent findings, and how to be a part of our research, either as a participating family, or as a student researcher!


Our Research

At the StarLab, we're interested in how children think about their social world, including how they think about themselves and others, what's right and wrong, and how people and objects interact. Many of our current studies focus on questions about moral judgment, thinking about other minds, how people change over time, and how children and adults think about ownership.

Moral Judgment

How do children reason about what is good and bad? Which aspects of moral judgment and moral behavior are learned, and which are present very early in life? In this line of work, we investigate the origins of adult moral psychology, uncovering both similarities and differences in moral reasoning across the lifespan.

Mind Perception

Who has a mind, and what kinds of minds matter? Why is it more wrong to harm a chimpanzee than a worm? How should we relate to a super-intelligent robot? In this line of research, we investigate what aspects of mental life we attribute to different kinds of beings, and how this leads us to attribute moral rights and responsibilities.

The Self In Time

We all change immensely throughout our lives, both physically and psychologically. What makes the 10-pound baby that started out our lives the same person as the wrinkled elderly person we eventually become? In this line of research, we ask how children and adults think they will change over time, what changes they think are possible, and whether children are more optimistic than adults about how they will change as they get older.

Ownership

Almost everything we encounter in the course of a day is owned by someone. Without realizing it, we are constantly reasoning about which objects are owned by whom, and what that means for how we can use the objects. In this line of work, we investigate children's and adults' reasoning about who owns what, who can be an owner, and what and who can be owned.

Some Recent Findings

Academics in other disciplines think knowledge is something different than what philosophers think it is!

How do we know if someone owns a living being?

What do we mean when we say, "He's just not the same person anymore"? Does becoming evil make you die?

Children have surprisingly complex theories about the nature of the self!

In which we explain why people actually prefer unequal societies.

Is it better to overcome temptation, or never to be tempted at all? We find a surprising developmental difference!

Why can you own a dog, or a sophisticated robot, but not a human?

Does creating something give you a special moral status?

You look at a clock that reads 10:49. Little do you know, the clock is stopped. However, it just so happens to be 10:49. Do you know that it's 10:49, or do you just believe it?

Children and adults see the eyes as the location of the self!

Be a part of child science at the StarLab!

Sign up below and we'll contact you with more information. Or click the buttons to the right to learn more about participating online, or how to participate in person once we can welcome you back to our centre!