Lab Director

Gail Heyman, Ph.D.


I study a wide range of topics at the intersection of children’s social and cognitive development, including how they make sense of the social world, and the factors that affect their sociomoral behavior. Much of this work is conducted as part of international collaborations with colleagues in China, Canada, Singapore, Japan, and Cameroon. My most recent work focuses on deception, implicit bias, reputation management, and how children learn from others.

Google Scholar | Personal Website

Postdoctoral Scholars

Tal Waltzer, Ph.D.


I'm a researcher who studies moral reasoning and cognitive development. I am currently working at UC San Diego as an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow. I received my PhD in Developmental Psychology from UC Santa Cruz under the supervision of Dr. Audun Dahl. I supervise the Academic Orientations Project and the Honesty & Ethics Research On Everyday Schooling (HEROES) Project. My team and I study the psychology of academic cheating and integrity.

Google Scholar | Personal Website | HEROES Project

Graduate Students

Sohee Ahn


I study how children view conformity and nonconformity across cultures. Why do children judge a behavior shared group-wide as what ought to be done? What inferences do children make about behavioral patterns encountered? To answer these questions, I conduct cross-cultural comparisons of children from individualistic cultures (e.g., the United States) and collectivistic cultures (e.g., South Korea).

Shuai Shao


I am interested in how people perceive the complex social world, with a major focus on economic and moral development. For example, how do children reason about social inequality and distribution systems? How do children judge prosocial lies? I take developmental, evolutionary, and cross-cultural perspectives to answer these questions. Before joining UC San Diego, I earned my M.A. from the University of Chicago and B.S. from Beijing Normal University. 

Google Scholar | Personal Website

Current Collaborating Researchers

Haleh Yazdi, Ph.D.


I am a postdoctoral fellow with the Developing Belief Network and received my Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from UC San Diego under the mentorship of Profs. David Barner and Gail Heyman. I am interested in understanding how children develop group prejudices, notions of fairness and justice, and moral intuitions. I have conducted studies in Canada, India, Iran, Mexico, and the U.S. to identify how cultural factors, such as extreme class divisions and political instability, affect children’s social and cognitive development. A primary goal of my work is to understand the role that cultural input plays in shaping cooperative behaviors from childhood to adulthood, with the larger aim to improve group relations globally.

Google Scholar

Jamie Amemiya, Ph.D.


I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Occidental College. I am broadly interested in the development of social cognition as it relates to how children and adults think about societal problems. My current research interests include how children and adults reason about the causes of social inequality, how they represent social categories and societal hierarchies, and their reasoning about why people disagree. Broader topics of interest include causal reasoning, counterfactual thinking, science education, social categorization, and achievement motivation.  

Google Scholar | Personal Website

Current Undergraduate Research Assistants

Karyme Alfaro

Manasa Ayyala

Olivia Baker

Katrina Cloyes

Alina Draa

Caroline Groeling

Arushi Gupta

Jiya Gupta

Erica Hayden

Brianna Hood

Evelina Hou

Ryan Lee

Alexandro Lozano

Christianne Perral

Jaynne Quezada

Sarah Segall

Caeli Tani

Kai Qin Teoh

Celine Vu

Sylvia Zuniga

Current High School Interns

Deanna Vuong

Sasha Zaytsev

Dillion Kao