Current Projects

Choice Preference: We are investigating how much toddlers prefer choice over non-choice in a variety of ways. We are interested in associations among toddler’s choice preference, executive function skills, and autonomy-supportive caregiving. Castelo et al. (2022)

Executive Function and Math: We are examining the association between executive function and specific math skills in the preschool years. 

Creativity and Executive Function: This series of studies is exploring how young children’s executive function skills might play a role in their ability to generate creative ideas, and whether this depends on characteristics of the child and the creative tasks. Vaisarova and Carlson (2021)

Reflection, Empathy, and Prosocial Sharing in Preschool-age Children: This study examines how reflection upon another person’s emotion and executive function skills influences preschool-age children’s sharing behavior.

In-home parent-child training system: This study examines the usability of a new smartphone-based app that may help parents support the development of their preschool children’s self-regulation and attention skills. Funded by NIH SBIR to Dr. Carlson and Dr. Zelazo.

Smart Persistence: We are investigating the development of “smart persistence” across early childhood, in which children understand when it is best to persist at a task and when it is best to stop persisting. 

Future Simulation: In a series of studies, we are studying the effects of helping preschool children think about their future selves on decision-making behaviors. Funded by the Office of the Vice President for Research to Dr. Carlson.

Predicting STEM Achievement: In a 5-year longitudinal study, we are seeking to align measures of personal attributes (e.g., personality, economic decision-making, and executive function) in elementary and middle school students in order to optimally predict their interest and achievement in STEM fields. Funded by NSF, Dr. Carlson is Co-PI with James Heckman (University of Chicago), Patrick Kyllonen (Educational Testing Service), and Thomas Dohmen (University of Bonn).

Civic Science Center: Dr. Phil Zelazo and Ellen Galinsky are collaborating to establish a Civic Science Center, designed to support public engagement in basic research as well as practical innovation in developmental science.