Our current social development studies include:

Study 1: Tool Innovation

This study aims to understand how children develop the ability to innovate tools. Children are asked to make a tool with raw materials to solve problems. In addition, we test their spatial cognition, mental rotation, divergent thinking, executive function (cognitive flexibility, working memory, inhibited control), creative personality and self-efficacy. Results could help us understand what influences tool innovation, which can provide supports for promoting children’s creativity.

Study 2: Natural Outdoor Activities and Creativity

According to the qualitative research study conducted by Dimensions Educational Research Foundation, there might be four factors in natural outdoor classrooms that enhance children’s creativity and imagination: (a) predictable space, (b) ample and consistent time, (c) open-ended materials, and (d) caring, observant adults who support creative play and learning.

Through observation, interviews and quantitative experimental research methods, this study aims to test that experience of reasonable guided natural outdoor activities could enhance preschool children’s creative thinking. We hope the study findings could provide guidance for designing children’s daily schedules in early daycare and education settings.

Study 3: Cooperative Norms

Establishing cooperative relations and maintaining cooperative norms are important foundations for success in the society. How do children develop the ability to cooperate with others? What are the factors that promote or decrease cooperative behavior? Our research is going to answer these questions. Children will participate in interesting tasks, including watching cartoons, reading storybooks, engaging in cooperative games, and distributing resources such as stickers or candies.

Study 4: How Children Think about Punishing Immoral Behavior

When observing immoral behavior, what will young children do? Will they punish the transgressor? How will they punish them? If children are victims, how will they solve the problem? The current study aims to answer these questions. Children will be told stories describing different scenarios, and will be asked about their opinion about the characters’ behaviors in the stories. The study contributes to understanding preschoolers’ attitudes toward victims’ acts of retaliation, and provides theoretical evidence that suggests how teachers and parents should guide children to deal with similar problems.

Study 5: Understanding Others and Punishment Behaviors

In this study, we are interested in how children react to unequal allocation of resources. Particularly, we are curious to see if they will punish the selfish distributions when their own interests are either involved or not. Moreover, we are interested in how children’s abilities of understanding other people’s mental states correlate with their decisions of punishment or not. We use an attractive device to get children involved in the allocation games. Puppets are used in well-designed tasks to test children’s abilities of understanding other people’s thoughts and feelings.

Study 6: How Children Learn by Interacting with the Natural Environment

We are increasingly coming to understand how children learn by interacting with the natural environment. This study mainly focuses on children’s disposition to value the nature. We test the origins and development of children’s pro-environmental behavior by examining how they react to behaviors that harm the environment. The study will provide suggestions for educating children with environmental protection. In addition, we aim to support practical applications in home and school design.

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