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Our Research

We seek to understand how children make sense of the social world

Talking to your child about social groups

We are starting a new line of work investigating how parents might best talk to their children about different social groups, including gender, race, and social class. What sorts of messages do children hear from parents? What other communicative signals (such as nonverbal movements) do children pick up on to learn about the social world around them?

Father with his Son

Intersectional Social Perception

Any person can be categorized along multiple dimensions of identity, including their race, gender, and age (among others). Yet, most developmental research has only examined the influence of one identity dimension at a time. This line of work examines how children use and integrate multiple dimensions of identity (e.g., race and gender) when categorizing others.

In recent work, we show that preschool-aged children associate Blackness with masculinity, leading to the psychological invisibility of Black women (Lei, Leshin, & Rhodes, under review), as well as specific anti-Black boy bias (Perszyk*, Lei*, et al., 2019). In future work, we plan to examine how to get children to increase the diversity of their category representations.


Chemistry Students

Motivating Children to "Do Science"

How do we promote children from  underrepresented backgrounds (like girls and racial minorities) to stay engaged in science fields? This line of work examines how a subtle feature of language -- asking children to "do science" rather than "be scientists" -- can improve children's science self-interest and sceince self-efficacy (Lei, Green, Leslie, & Rhodes, 2019). In future work, we plan to examine the mechanism underlying how asking children to "do science" improves their science engagement.