Developmental psychology early social development lab

"My favorite part of this lab is working with the kids and getting to see the new studies being developed as well as coding the finished studies and evaluating data."


Supervising Faculty:

Celia Brownell



Celia Brownell
3409 Sennott Square


Area of Research:  Developmental Psychology Early Social Development Labs


Description of Research:

What do infants and toddlers understand about themselves and other people, including emotions, goals, needs, and desires? How do they put their earliest social understanding to work in play and interaction? We study self/other understanding and early prosocial behavior (sharing, helping, comforting, cooperating) in 12 - 30 month olds. All of our research is observational; most of it is conducted in our laboratory playroom. Young children play with an adult (us or their parents) and/or with other children using standard toys, objects, and procedures. For example, in one study children watch an experimenter put a sticker on mom in various locations (neck, elbow, ear) and the child's job is to put the sticker on him or herself in the same spot. In another study, children read a book about emotions with a parent and then have the chance to share with or help someone else who is sad. Children's behavior is recorded onto video for later coding and analysis. This is a great opportunity to learn about doing research with preverbal children.


Duties of Students:

Helping to schedule families, create and prepare child-oriented stimuli, collect observational and experimental data with toddlers, operate video equipment, code behavior from video, enter data into SPSS or Excel, and maintain paper and computer-based records. All research takes place in the Early Social Development Labs in Sennott Square on the Pitt campus during weekday hours.


Additional Requirements:

  • 3.0 or higher GPA
  • At least 12 credits in Psychology, including PSY 0035
  • PSY 0310 recommended
  • Two-term commitment required
  • Comfortable with very young children and their parents
  • Willing to learn new skills
  • Able to work well both independently and as part of a team


Terms offered: fall, spring and summer


Number of Students: varies