Our Team

The Development of Social Cognition Laboratory recently moved from the University of Chicago to Cornell University. We have active projects ongoing at both locations.

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Professor Kinzler’s research investigates the development of social cognition, with particular emphasis on exploring infants’ and children’s attention to the language and accent with which others speak as a marker of group membership. She is also interested in the development of face perception, social categories, empathy, cultural learning, and trust.


Cornell University

Molly Gibian

Lab Manager

Molly is a graduate of Wellesley College with a major in Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences. She has worked in neuroscience and psychology research for Wellesley, M.I.T., Harvard Medical School, and the Boston VA Hospital. She is interested in the development of social cognition with a focus on gender, leadership, and value systems.

Graduate Students

Isobel Heck

Isobel is a second-year Ph.D. student. She is broadly interested in how children come to understand themselves in relation to others.  Currently, she is focused on the formation of group-based attitudes, children's thinking about social norms, and individual and cultural differences in children’s developing social behaviors and insights.       

Radhika Santhanagopolan

Radhika is a second-year Ph.D. student interested in studying language and accent as group markers. Her research also explores the development of children’s negotiation skills, and ideas about resource entitlement. She is currently pursuing cross-cultural work examining how children conceptualize leadership and nationality in different cultural contexts.



Rachel is a first-year student in the Social Psychology Ph.D. program. She is broadly interested in the development of social categorization and intergroup biases. Currently, Rachel is particularly interested the development of beliefs about socioeconomic status and social mobility. She also hopes to design and test interventions to reduce intergroup biases in both children and adults.


Rajen Anderson

Raj is a Ph.D. student in the Social and Personality area of the Psychology Department. He is broadly interested in judgment and decision-making, particular in the context of moral psychology and questions of person perception: how do we judge the behavior, intentions, and character of others? In addition, Raj is interested in the intersection between moral psychology and other fields, like political psychology (e.g., why do we tend to moralize political matters?) and developmental psychology (e.g., do children follow the same rules in making moral judgments that adults do?).


Ashley Ransom

Ashley worked as the Development of Social Cognition's lab manager from July 2014 to August 2015. She is now a Ph.D. student in Human Development. Her research examines children's reasoning about language and accent, children's essentialist beliefs about language, and the roles of language and food in early social group categorization.

Kacie Armstrong

Kacie is a graduate student in the Perception, Cognition, and Development area of the Psychology Department. Her research investigates face perception in both children and adults. Specifically, she is interested in how observer mood, as well as social cues to group membership, influence the perception of facial expressions. Kacie also studies Hollywood film, focusing on how the visual structure of cinema relates to emotional responses in viewers.

Vivian Rotenstein

Vivian is a second year Ph.D. student in Human Development. She graduated from the University of Southern California with a B.A. in Psychology. Broadly speaking, her research interests lie at the intersection of psychology and law. Specific topics of interest include children's attitudes about justice and the function of punishment, factors influencing jury decision making in criminal and civil trials, the reliability of children’s witness testimony, and perceptions of criminality.

Jessica Bregant

Jessica’s research explores how people make decisions in legal contexts, incorporating insights and methods from developmental psychology, social psychology, economics, and law. She is also interested in moral and social development, and her current projects examine whether children share common adult intuitions about punishment and justice, and how those intuitions develop and translate into attitudes and behaviors. 

Lance Bush

Lance is a Ph.D. student in Social and Personality area of the Psychology Department. He is interested in understanding morality from an interdisciplinary perspective that incorporates social psychology, moral philosophy, and evolutionary theory. His current projects center on understanding how people think about the nature of morality, and especially whether people think moral norms are objective, relative, both, or something else. Lance is also interested in understanding altruism and prosocial behavior and in designing interventions that could motivate people to be more charitable and more concerned with improving the welfare of others.

Benjamin Ruisch

Ben is a Ph.D. student in the Social and Personality area of the Psychology Department. He is interested in the causes and consequences of heightened threat reactivity, particularly as they relate to the development of political ideology. Ben is also interested in how threat reactivity shapes attention and basic social cognition processes like stereotype formation and social categorization.


      Undergraduate Research Assistants