Rosie Aboody

I'm an NSF SPRF postdoctoral fellow with joint appointments at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. I work with Dr. Elizabeth Bonawitz in the Computational Cognitive Development Lab, and Dr. Laura Schulz in the Early Childhood Cognition Lab.

Previously, I completed my PhD at Yale University, working primarily with Dr. Julian Jara-Ettinger in the Computational Social Cognition Lab. I'm interested in social cognition broadly, but in the bulk of my work I study how children and adults infer what someone knows or believes, simply from observing that person act in the world. See below for descriptions of three current lines of work:

How do we infer others' mental states?

Although even young children can represent others' beliefs, less work has investigated whether kids can infer what others know or believe. I'm really interested in understanding these types of mental-state inferences. I've found that kids expect others to maximize epistemic trade-offs, and understand the types of actions that reveal both knowledge and ignorance.

How do we deal with social information?

Often, we form our opinions based on things others have told us. When deciding what to believe, do we just listen to what people say, or do we also consider why they said it? We find that adults often don't distinguish between information that is independently sourced vs. merely repeated. Recent work suggests that this understanding may also be late-developing in chilren.

Press: Psychology Today, SPSP Character & Context

How do we decide what to teach?

Although humans are incredibly good at transmitting information, we're not always perfect. Why do we sometimes make mistakes? In one set of studies, we find evidence for a Curse of Knowledge in teaching: adults assume that learners' hypothesis spaces are fairly narrow. Because of this, they don't provide enough evidence for learners to learn.