Research Area: Developmental Science
I am interested in how young children learn through indirect experience with others. Children are offered some information directly (such as when a parent points to and names a toy a child is playing with) yet they receive a great deal of information in indirect ways (such as by overhearing a conversation). A potential source of indirect learning for young children is people on television. However, a number of studies have revealed that babies and toddlers often do not learn from a person on video, possibly because a TV character cannot respond to what the viewer says or does.
In one study, we found that toddlers learned from someone on video as long as that person was engaged in a reciprocal interaction with another individual (i.e., a "third party"). Responsive interaction between two adults appears to help children realize that generalizable information is being shared. In another ongoing study, I am examining how presentation format ("live" vs. video) affects young children’s social preferences (i.e., based on language, race, gender, etc.) and learning.