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Research Projects

The impact of native language on number line estimation: a cross-cultural comparison

The project aims to address number line estimation accuracy in children aged between 5-7 years from UK and German populations. The impact of native language and number representation will be assessed through use of visual digit representations (same across language groups) and auditory number words.

Dr. Tom Gallagher-Mitchell


Children’s and Adolescents’ Happiness at School

The project aims to investigate whether children (10-11 year-olds) and adolescents (14-15 year-olds) feel happy at school and whether this impact children’s and adolescents’ well-being, as well as their academic achievement.

Dr. Antonio Zuffiano and Dr. Belen Lopez-Perez


Can infants comfort others who are upset?

The project aims to study whether infants (30 to 48 months old) can cheer up an adult when seeing this adult feeling upset depending on whether the adult is the principal carer or a stranger. Furthermore, we will evaluate children’s ability to identify emotions and beliefs in others and test whether this relates to infants’ ability to comfort.

Dr. Belen Lopez-Perez and Dr. Antonio Zuffiano


DraStEE (Drama, stories, empathy and education)

The aim of this study is to explore how drama and embodied cognition can support children’s social and emotional understanding. Children, aged 3-4 years, play out the characters of a story and experience their dilemmas by being introduced to opportunities of feeling the mental states and feelings of the others. Does the enactment facilitate the capacity of taking the perspective of the other? In what ways can role play of story characters enhance children’s emotional and social awareness?

Dr Zoi Nikiforidou, Dr Jim Stack and Dr Babs Anderson


Learning to write and the integration of multisensory information

How well we remember information is important in reading and writing. The working memory model has been widely recognised in Psychology and Education as being able to explain the rates at which children develop their language and literacy skills. I am currently focused on measuring the accuracy with which children aged 4-6 years develop skills in binding together shapes and sounds in working memory. The ability to develop effective strategies to bring pieces of information together in their minds is thought to be a factor in explaining why some children find reading and writing more challenging than others. I undertake this work with Dr Simon Davies, who is an expert in visual attention processes

Dr Lorna Bourke


Autism, executive function, emotion regulations and writing with imagination

We work with children with Autism aged 9-11 years of age and know some of the main challenges they face in relation to monitoring and planning their behaviour, as well as understanding and controlling emotion. The skills related to this are also important in fiction writing. We want to try to assess how far they explain their use of imagination when describing scenes in stories.

Dr Lorna Bourke


A reassessment of false belief understanding in infancy

I am using a violation of expectation unexpected transfer methodology to assess current interpretations of infant looking time data within this paradigm. In this study I created a ‘false belief’ situation where the adult is both present but either knowledgeable or ignorant about the target object’s current location in Box A. I then transfer the object to Box B. The findings from this study demonstrate that before 18 months of age infants fail to distinguish between conditions. At some point between 18- and 22-months of age infants begin to respond differently in each condition showing the classic looking time patterns in the false belief condition.

Dr Jim Stack


The relationship between three- and four-year-olds false belief understanding and sharing behaviour’s of jointly earned resources with high- and low- merit co-workers

In this study I assess children’s performance on the classic unexpected transfer task. Children then engage in a resource generation task where they work alongside a high-merit (reliable puppet) or a low-merit (unreliable puppet). In the high merit condition both the child and puppet answer question correctly in order to jointly contribute to the generation of resources. In the low merit condition the puppet gets all his answers incorrect. Therefore, the child is the sole generator of resources. Preliminary findings from this study demonstrate that children who are able to pass the false belief task share more equally with the puppet but only in the high merit condition.

Dr Jim Stack


The relationship between three to eight year olds contextualised and decontextualized false belief reasoning and sharing behaviour’s from collaborative earned resources

In this study I again assess children’s performance on the classic unexpected transfer task. Children then engage in a resource generation task (stickers are obtained by either working collaboratively with a puppet or by working independently). Children are then given the stickers and asked if they would like to share them with the puppet. Importantly, this information was given to the infant either when the puppet was present (knowledgeable) or absent (ignorant) or when then puppet believed that there was either more or less sticker to share than the actual amount (contextualised false belief).

Dr Jim Stack


Forest school provision and the emergence of social understanding

In this study I am working in collaboration with Dr Zoi Nikiforidou. We are motivated by an attempt to provide a better theoretical understanding of the impact of forest school provision on children’s emerging social understanding and prosocial behaviour’s. This is a longitudinal study beginning in January 2017. It will follow children from the age of three years up to school leaving age.

Dr Jim Stack and Zoi Nikiforidou