Whenever I’ve watched my younger cousins, my nieces, nephews or other young children, I’ve tried to teach them to behave kindly towards others. This meant teaching them to share their toys, to help set the table at dinner, and to comfort others when they are upset. Before beginning my research on infants’ moral development, I didn’t realize there are complex learning processes behind developing these behaviors. During college, my interest in learning about cognitive development motivated me to major in Psychology. In pursuing Departmental Honors, I sought out research in Dr. Jessica Sommerville’s Early Childhood Cognition lab, which focuses on children’s moral development and how infants develop an understanding of what it means to be prosocial (i.e. show concern for the well-being of others). It was intriguing that from their first few months of life, infants understand what it means to be prosocial, which is critical to their social and cognitive development. I was eager to learn more about the complex learning processes involved. Ultimately, these learning processes impact infants’ ability to find supportive social partners.
My research on infants prosocial development during my undergrad, along with my Psychology and Global Health coursework and my own experience growing up in a bicultural environment has shaped my desire to learn more about how social factors can influence human development. I define the social environment and social factors broadly. To develop more specific interests, I’m planning to pursue a Master’s degree program through which I will further develop my research interests before continuing on to do my PhD