Seminar by Telli Davoodi on March 14, 2019

Thursday, March 14, 2019
Telli Davoodi, Boston University

Location: Psychology Seminar Room


Start Time: 15:00

Social influences on conceptual development: Beyond WEIRD populations


Humans have evolved species-typical cognition, but there is considerable variation in cognition across societies and cultures. This suggests that cultural and contextual influences shape our psychological experience. In order to understand how this process occurs, I study cognitive development across contexts and cultures. The developmental approach allows me to study the early stages of cognition, before children are exposed to social influences outside the home, a later stage of cognition when children start formal schooling and are influenced by various sources, and finally cognition in adults. Importantly, by studying the development of cognition in a variety of cultures and contexts, my research program can uncover the social learning processes that shape cognitive development. Within cognitive development, I focus on our understanding of concepts. I will talk about the development of beliefs about social categories (e.g., gender, nationality, religion), as conceptual and social constructs, among children and adults in the U.S. and in Turkey, and discuss similarities in the developmental trajectory of these beliefs. I will also talk about my work on the role of community consensus on the development of beliefs about religious concepts, such as God and heaven, and draw parallels between religious and scientific cognition in Iran and China. Lastly, I will discuss exciting future plans for extending my research program.