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Dr. Susan Sage Heinzelman, Director 2505 University Avenue, A4900, Burdine Hall 536, Austin Texas 78712 • 512-471-5765

Cristine H Legare

Associate Faculty Ph.D., University of Michigan

Assistant Professor
Cristine H Legare



Phone: 232-8044
Office: SEA 5.216

Cognition, Culture, and Development Lab

See also Developmental Psychology and Cognition

Research Interests

Cognitive development, conceptual development and causal reasoning, knowledge acquisition and learning, culture and cognition, cognitive science of religion

Dr. Legare received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Michigan in 2008. She studies cognitive development with a focus on causal reasoning, conceptual development, and problem solving. Her approach to studying these topics is to integrate theory and research from cognitive developmental psychology and anthropology to examine these basic cognitive processes in particular content areas and cultural contexts. In her current research she is investigating mechanisms of causal knowledge acquisition by examining the development of children's questions and explanations. Her interests also include the co-existence of scientific and religious explanatory frameworks across development.

Representative Publications

Heyman, G., & Legare, C.H. Social cognitive development: Learning from others. Chapter to appear in Oxford Library of Psychology

Legare, C.H. (in press).  Exploring explanation: Explaining inconsistent information guides hypothesis-testing behavior in young children. Child Development.

Evans, E.M., Legare, C.H., & Rosengren, K. (in press). Engaging multiple epistemologies: Implications for science education. In R. Taylor & M. Ferrari (Eds.), Epistemology and science education: Understanding the evolution vs. intelligent design controversy. New York: Routledge.

Lan, X., Legare, C.H., Ponitz, C., & Morrison, F. (in press). Investigating the links between the subcomponents of executive functioning and academic achievement: A cross-cultural analysis of Chinese and American preschool children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.

Mills, C., Legare, C.H., Bills, M., & Mejias, C. (in press).  Preschoolers use questions as a tool to acquire knowledge from different sources. Journal of Cognition and Development.

Legare, C.H., Gelman, S.A., & Wellman, H.M. (2010). Inconsistency with prior knowledge triggers children’s causal explanatory reasoning. Child Development, 81, 929-944.

Legare, C. H., & Gelman, S. A. (2009). South African children’s understanding of AIDS and flu: Investigating conceptual understanding of cause, treatment, and prevention.  Journal of Cognition and Culture, 9, 357–370.

Legare, C. H., Wellman, H. M., & Gelman, S. A. (2009). Evidence for an explanation advantage in naïve biological reasoning.   Cognitive Psychology, 58, 177-194.

Legare, C.H. & Gelman, S.A. (2008). Bewitchment, biology, or both: The co-existence of natural and supernatural explanatory frameworks across development. Cognitive Science: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 32, 607-642.

Gelman, S.A., Heyman, G.D., & Legare, C.H. (2007). Developmental changes in the coherence of essentialist beliefs. Child Development, 78, 757-774.

Heyman, G., & Legare, C.H. (2005). Children's evaluation of sources of information about traits. Developmental Psychology, 41, 636-647.

Heyman, G., & Legare, C.H. (2004). Children's beliefs about gender differences in the academic and social domains. Sex Roles, 50, 227-240.

Postdoctoral Researchers

Representative Publications

Please see lab site for a full list of publications.

Clegg, J.M., & Legare, C.H. (2015, in press). Instrumental and conventional interpretations of behavior are associated with distinct outcomes in early childhood. Child Development.
Legare, C.H., Wen, N.J., Herrmann, P.A., & Whitehouse, H. (2015). Imitative flexibility and the development of cultural learning. Cognition, 142, 351-361.

Walker, C., Lombrozo, T., Legare, C.H., & Gopnik, A. (2014). Explaining prompts children to privilege inductively rich properties. Cognition, 133, 343-357.

Legare, C.H., & Lombrozo, T. (2014). Selective effects of explanation on learning during early childhood. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 126, 198-212.

Legare, C.H. (2014). The contributions of explanation and exploration to children’s scientific reasoning. Child Development Perspectives, 8, 101-106.

Legare, C.H., & Souza, A.L. (2014). Searching for control: Priming randomness increases the evaluation of ritual efficacy. Cognitive Science, 38, 152-161. 

Watson-Jones, R., Legare, C.H., Whitehouse, H., & Clegg, J.M. (2014). Task specific effects of ostracism on imitative fidelity in early childhood. Evolution and Human Behavior, 35, 204-210.

Herrmann, P.A., Legare, C.H., Harris, P.L., & Whitehouse, H. (2013). Stick to the script: The effect of witnessing multiple actors on children’s imitation. Cognition, 129, 536-543.

Legare, C.H., Lane, J., & Evans, E.M. (2013). Anthropomorphizing science: How does it affect the development of evolutionary concepts? Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 59, 168-197.

Legare, C.H., & Souza, A. (2012). Evaluating ritual efficacy: Evidence from the supernatural. Cognition, 124, 1-15.

Legare, C.H., Mills, C.M., Souza, A.L., Plummer, L.E., & Yasskin, R. (2012). The use of questions as problem-solving strategies in early childhood. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 114, 63-76.

Legare, C.H., Evans, E.M., Rosengren, K.S., & Harris, P.L. (2012). The coexistence of natural and supernatural explanations across cultures and development. Child Development, 83, 779-793. 

Legare, C.H. (2012). Exploring explanation: Explaining inconsistent information guides hypothesis-testing behavior in young children. Child Development, 83, 173-185. 

Gelman, S.A., & Legare, C.H. (2011). Concepts and folk theories. Annual Review of Anthropology, 40, 379-398. 

Legare, C.H., Gelman, S.A., & Wellman, H.M. (2010). Inconsistency with prior knowledge triggers children’s causal explanatory reasoning. Child Development, 81, 929-944.

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