Any caregiver, parent, grandparent or teacher who has been flummoxed by a child fibbing, procrastinating or failing to recognize people around them will have a chance to gain some insight from a trio of Brock’s top child development researchers next week.
Angela Evans, Caitlin Mahy and Catherine Mondloch, faculty members in the University’s Department of Psychology, will jointly present “Children’s Social, Emotional and Cognitive Development — What’s happening and why?”, a free public webinar hosted by the Lifespan Development Research Institute at Brock as part of its ongoing Speaker Series.
Evans, who holds a Chancellor’s Chair for Research Excellence for her work on children’s honesty, will present some of her findings.
“I will be talking about the development of (dis)honesty during childhood and methods for promoting honesty,” says Evans. “Lie-telling begins early in development and improves quite quickly, but many of the methods that successfully improve honesty in children are actually very simple and easy to implement.”
Mahy will be sharing her latest research on the emergence and development of procrastination in children — a behaviour that can develop as early as age three.
“As a parent I noticed that my preschool-aged children were constantly putting off things like bedtime and cleaning up messes, so I was especially interested in investigating this topic when an Honours student expressed interest in studying it,” Mahy says.
Mahy, who undertook the procrastination research with Psychology Honours student Melissa Alunni (BA ’21), who has since graduated but remains involved in the project, and collaborating graduate students Taissa Fuke and Ege Kamber, says that although the research confirmed some of her expectations about procrastination, there were some surprises, too.
“Our research confirmed a relationship between procrastination and self-control and future thinking, but we weren’t necessarily expecting procrastination to increase with age,” she says. “It seems that as children age, they should learn from their past experiences and get better at completing tasks and not putting them off. However, what we’ve found is that as children get older, they are assigned more tasks that they might not be motivated to complete like household chores or homework, so procrastination becomes more common instead of less so.”
Mondloch will share her research around face perception and recognition among children, which has been conducted with PhD students Claire Matthews and Sophia Thierry.
“I will be talking about children’s ability to recognize familiar faces, like those of their parents and teachers, and how first impressions can influence their interpretation of peers’ behaviour,” says Mondloch. “I’ll also discuss why young children make errors when trying to recognize photos of their own teacher, as well as photos of their parents taken before they were born.”
Evans, Mahy and Mondloch are all affiliated with Growing With Brock, a community outreach initiative comprised of five developmental psychology laboratories at the University that conduct studies with individuals across the entire lifespan.
Though the pandemic has curbed in-person research, these labs continue to undertake studies online and are always seeking families to take part. For example, Mahy is currently seeking children aged three to five for two studies and Evans is seeking children aged seven to 10. Child participants typically complete tasks involving games, stories or activities with a research assistant. Anyone interested in getting involved in current or future studies through Growing With Brock is encouraged to visit the website to learn more.
“Children’s Social, Emotional and Cognitive Development — What’s happening and why?” takes place virtually on Wednesday, Nov. 24 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. The webinar is open to the public and free to attend, but advance registration is required to obtain access to the livestream.