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Cristine H Legare


Associate FacultyPh.D., University of Michigan

Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology
Cristine H Legare

Contact

Interests


Cognitive development, cultural learning, cognitive evolution

Biography


Email: legare@austin.utexas.edu

Please see lab site for a full list of publications

 


Research Interests

Cognitive development, cultural learning, cognitive evolution

Dr. Legare is the director of the Cognition, Culture, and Development Lab. Her training and research reflect her commitment to interdisciplinary approaches to the study of cognitive development. As an undergraduate, she took coursework from a variety of social science disciplines, double majoring in Human Development and Cultural Studies at the University of California, San Diego. In graduate school, she participated in the Culture and Cognition Program while completing her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Legare studies the intersection of several topics in the field of cognitive development: causal reasoning, social learning, and the development of scientific and supernatural belief systems. Her approach is to integrate theory and research from cognitive psychology and anthropology to examine basic cognitive processes in particular content areas and cultural contexts. She has done extensive field work in southern Africa, and is currently doing research in Brazil, China, and Vanuatu (a Melanesian archipelago), using both experimental and ethnographic methods.

 

Representative Publications

Please see lab site for a full list of publications.

Little, E.E., Carver, L.J., & Legare, C.H. (2015, in press). Cultural variation in triadic infant-caregiver object exploration. Child Development

Legare, C.H., & Nielsen, M. (2015, in press). Imitation and innovation: The dual engines of cultural learning. Trends in Cognitive Sciences (TICS)

Wen, N., Herrmann, P.A., & Legare, C.H. (2015, in press). Ritual increases children’s affiliation with in-group members. Evolution and Human Behavior.

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.

Postdoctoral Researchers


 

Rachel Watson-Jones, Ph.D.

Aiyana Willard, Ph.D

Press


The Fantasy Advantage (PDF)→

- Scientific American Mind
March/April 2016


Imitation and Innovation→

- The Academic Minute
January 4, 2016


Why Do Rituals Grow as a Year Dwindles?→

- The Wall Street Journal
December 23, 2015


Religious People See Less Conflict Between God and Science→

- Inverse
October 22, 2015


Selective Imitation Shows Children Are Flexible Social Learners, Study Finds→

- ScienceDaily
July 27, 2015


Faith vs. Facts→

- The New York Times
April 19, 2015


Interview With Cristine H. Legare→

- APS Observer
April 2015


Dark Rites (PDF)→

- New Scientist
January 17, 2015
* See slideshow: Five bizarre rituals – and why people perform them →


Cristine Legare Awarded NSF Grant to Study Children’s Scientific Reasoning→

- University of Texas at Austin, Public Affairs
September 3, 2014


Imitating to Survive→

- Mortal Rituals, Psychology Today
August 20, 2014


Thinking Like A Scientist Can Help Overcome Allure Of Appearances→

- NPR: 13.7 Cosmos & Culture
August 18, 2014


Rituals That Work and Why→

- NPR: 13.7 Cosmos and Culture
July 22, 2014


Coming Up With Explanations Helps Children Develop Cause-and-Effect Thinking Skills→

- ScienceDaily
April 22, 2014 


Acredita Em Simpatias? A Ciência Explica O Porquê→

- Veja
November 18, 2013 


Complexidade Sobrenatural (PDF) →

- Correio Braziliense
November 3, 2013 


Halloween Superstitions May Be Myths, But They Still Have Their Purposes as Ritual→

- Postmedia News
October 30, 2013 


Do You Believe?→

- AARP The Magazine
October-November 2013 


Why Belief in the Supernatural Is Only Natural→

- Society for Personality and Social Psychology
October 2013


What Makes Us Think Rituals Work?→

- Art Markman’s blog
September 26, 2013 


UT Findings Show Children Are Quick to Adopt Social Behavior→

- The Daily Texan
September 22, 2013 


Even Young Children Adopt Arbitrary Rituals→

- The Wall Street Journal
August 23, 2013 


The Evolutionary Power Of Ritual→

- Evolution: This View of Life
June 8, 2013 


Research by Cristine Legare and Tania Lombrozo on the Selective Effects of Explanation on Learning Featured by GoldieBlox

- Education Week
June 5, 2013 


Why Rituals Work→

- Scientific American
May 14, 2013 


Why Your Lucky Underwear And Pre-Game Routine Might Actually Work→

- Smithsonian
May 14, 2013 


Alison Gopnik: What Do Babies Think?→

- TED Radio Hour 
April 29, 2013 


Association for Psychological Science Rising Stars→

- Observer
March 27, 2013 


Social Evolution: The Ritual Animal→

- Nature
January 23, 2013 


Human Rites→

- Aeon Magazine
December 12, 2012 


Supernatural Explanations More Accepted as We Age→

- Life & Letters
November 6, 2012 


Adults and the Supernatural→

- KTBC FOX 7
October 23, 2012 


Supernatural More Important as We Age, Study Shows→

- Good Morning America
September 7, 2012 


Adults Like Supernatural Explanations→

- UPI
September 7, 2012 


Supernatural Beliefs Increase With Age and Knowledge→

- ANI
September 2, 2012 


Older People More Likely to See the Supernatural in Life Than Children→

- Geekosystem
August 31, 2012 


Supernatural Reasoning Increases With Age→

- Psych Central
August 31, 2012< /hr>

Reliance on the Supernatural Grows With Age→

- Fwire, Firstpost
August 31, 2012 


People Merge Supernatural and Scientific Beliefs When Reasoning With the Unknown→

- Newsroom America
August 30, 2012 


People Are More Likely to Believe in Magic Spells That Are Repetitious and Time-Consuming→

- io9
August 4, 2012 


The Science Of Ritual: Why We Seek Help and Healing in Repetition→

- Shots, NPR
August 2, 2012


What Makes Us Think Rituals Work?→

- Ulterior Motives, Psychology Today
May 29, 2012 


Repetitious Magic Rituals Are Thought to Be More Effective→

- Epiphenom
May 26, 2012 


Even for Young Kids, Explanation Guides Exploration→

- Ulterior Motives, Psychology Today
February 21, 2012

Multimedia


Interview with Cristine Legare on the Psychological Compatibility of Scientific and Religious Beliefs

Breaking New Ground in the Science and Religion Dialogue Conference

Cristine Legare, of the University of Texas at Austin, discusses psychological compatibility of scientific and religious beliefs at the Breaking New Ground in the Science and Religion Dialogue conference at the University of Texas at Austin.


Interview with Cristine Legare on How People Reconcile Religious and Scientific Explanations

Breaking New Ground in the Science and Religion Dialogue Conference

Interview for Breaking New Ground in the Science-Religion Dialogue Workshop. How do people reconcile religious and scientific explanations?


The Ontogeny of Cultural Learning

Breaking New Ground in the Science and Religion Dialogue Conference

Humans are a social species and much of what we know we learn from others. To be effective and efficient learners, children must be selective about when to innovate, when to imitate, and to what degree. In a systematic program of interdisciplinary, mixed-methodological, and cross-cultural research, my objective is to develop an ontological account of how children flexibly use imitation and innovation as dual engines of cultural learning.
Imitation is multifunctional; it is used to learn both instrumental skills and cultural conventions such as rituals. I propose that the psychological system supporting the acquisition of instrumental skills and cultural conventions is driven by two modes of interpretation: an instrumental stance (i.e., interpretation based on physical causation) and a ritual stance (i.e., interpretation based on social convention). What distinguishes instrumental from conventional practices often cannot be determined directly from the action alone but requires interpretation by the learner based on social cues and contextual information. I will present evidence for the kinds of information children use to guide flexible imitation. I will also discuss cross-cultural research in the U.S. and Vanuatu (a Melanesian archipelago) on the interplay of imitation and innovation in early childhood.


Two Guys on Your Head

Cristine Legare interviewed on Art Markman's KUT radio show, to discuss research conducted at theThinkery on the development of scientific thinking.


The Coexistence of Natural and Supernatural Explanations Across Cultures and Development

Keynote address at the Metacognitive Diversity: An Interdisciplinary Approach Conference

Ecole Normale Supérieure
Paris, France

Watch the video » 


Podcasts from Cognitive Science and Religion Workshop

Center for Mind, Brain, and Culture, Emory University


Interview at the Laboratory for Experimental Research of Religion (LEVYNA)

Breaking New Ground in the Science and Religion Dialogue Conference

Psychologist Cristine Legare, Director of the Cognition, Culture, and Development Lab, interviewed at LEVYNA.


Reasoning About Scientific and Religious Explanations

Breaking New Ground in the Science and Religion Dialogue Conference

The Coexistence of Natural and Supernatural Explanations across Cultures and Development 


Adults and the Supernatural

Good Day Austin, Fox News

Watch the video »


Intellectual Entrepreneurship Portrait - Cintia Hinojosa and Jenn Clegg (CCD Laboratory students)

The University of Texas at Austin

Watch the video »


Field Sites


Vanuatu

To date, there is a dearth of research on cultural learning in Non-Western contexts; little is known about the impact of culturally diverse childrearing environments, practices, and social dynamics on the development of cultural learning. To examine the cognitive developmental foundations of cultural learning, my colleagues and I have conducted research in educational settings and home environments in both the United States (Austin, Texas) and Vanuatu (Tanna). Vanuatu, a Melanesian island nation in the South Pacific, is one of the most remote, culturally and linguistically diverse, and understudied countries in the world. Vanuatu provides a unique opportunity to explore the development of cultural learning in communities with limited exposed to Western education and influence.

Check out some photos from her time in Vanuatu: 

Topics of Research


The interplay of the universal human mind and the variation of human culture motivates Cristine's research program. She studies the capacity to learn, create, and transmit culture to increase our understanding of the cognitive and cultural evolution of our species. Cristine's experimental and ethnographic research integrates theory and methodology from cognitive and evolutionary anthropology, psychology, and philosophy to examine the co-construction of cognition and culture. She has active field sites in southern Africa, the U.S., Brazil, and Vanuatu (a Melanesian archipelago).


Ontogeny of Cultural Learning 

Humans are a social species and much of what we know we learn from others. In a systematic program of interdisciplinary and cross-cultural research, Cristine's objective is to develop a cognitive developmental account of how children flexibly use imitation and innovation as dual engines of cultural learning. She integrates a novel theoretical perspective on cultural learning with mixed-methodologies in the following lines of research:

FLEXIBLE IMITATION AND INNOVATION

In order to be effective and efficient learners, children must be selective about when to innovate, when to imitate, and to what degree. Although the majority of research on imitation in early childhood has examined the acquisition of instrumental knowledge, imitation is equally necessary to acquire the cultural conventions or rituals of social groups. Cristine proposes that the psychological systems supporting the learning of instrumental skills and cultural conventions are facilitated by the differential activation of two modes of interpretation: an instrumental stance (i.e., interpretation based on physical causation) and a ritual stance (i.e., interpretation based on cultural convention and social stipulation). What distinguishes instrumental from conventional practices often cannot be determined directly from the action alone but requires interpretation by the learner based on social cues and contextual information.

Research questions:
What kind of information do children use to determine when to engage in imitation versus innovation?
How does high fidelity imitation versus innovation support learning both instrumental skills and cultural conventions?

LEARNING ACROSS CULTURES AND SOCIAL CONTEXTS

Cross-cultural research on the interplay of imitation and innovation in early childhood has the unique potential to inform the development of new theoretical perspectives on cultural learning. Cultures differ dramatically along a number of dimensions that Cristine proposes have profound impacts on how imitation and innovation are socialized in early childhood (i.e., cultural values, primary caregivers, pedagogical style, and parenting style). To date, there is a dearth of cognitive science research in non-Western contexts and little is known about the impact of diverse childrearing environments and caretaking practices on the development of cultural learning. Cristine is conducting cross-cultural studies in multiple childrearing environments in the United States (Austin, Texas) and Vanuatu (Tanna), cultural contexts that represent key aspects of the diversity of human childrearing practices. The research in Tanna involves a mutually beneficial and previously established partnership between her lab and the Vanuatu Cultural Centre to preserve information about the beliefs, values, and practices of this unique cultural context.

Research questions:
Is there cross-cultural variation in how children learn instrumental skills and cultural conventions?
How does learning instrumental skills versus cultural conventions vary in different social contexts (i.e., single child, parent-child, and peer learning)?

HOMO RITUALIS

Examining the development of ritual behavior has implications for understanding the emergence of social group cognition in childhood as well as increasing our knowledge of the general human tendency to prefer in-group members to out-group members. Cristine proposes that learning cultural conventions is motivated by a drive to affiliate with social groups. In a systematic line of research of conventional behavior in children’s social groups, she aims to provide a new theoretical foundation for understanding ritual—a psychologically understudied, yet pervasive, feature of human social group cognition and behavior.

Research questions:
What are the implications of learning cultural conventions for social group cognition?
How does the experience of ostracism in the context of in-groups versus out-groups influence affiliative behavior?

See articles on the ontogeny of cultural learning »

Cristine’s research on the ontogeny of cultural learning is funded by a Large Grant from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) & by the John Templeton Foundation as part of the Ritual, Community, and Conflict Project.


Reasoning About Causality

EXPLANATORY COEXISTENCE

Cristine examines how children and adults navigate the task of reconciling different kinds of causal explanations—such as natural and supernatural explanations—to make sense of the world around them. Research conducted across a variety of domains, age groups, and cultural contexts has demonstrated several different ways that natural and supernatural explanations are accommodated, reconciled, and used to explain multiple levels of causality. For example, she has studied how individuals explain what causes AIDS in rural and urban South African populations, where supernatural (witchcraft) explanations are integrated with Western biomedical explanations. She found that supernatural and biological explanations provide distinct, complementary causal information. Her research indicates that reasoning about supernatural phenomena is an integral and enduring aspect of human cognition, not a transient or ephemeral element of childhood cognition that is readily displaced by science or objectivity.

Research questions:
How do we interpret multiple levels of causation, and how are different kinds of explanations reconciled in our minds?

CAUSAL REASONING ABOUT RITUAL EFFICACY

Rituals pose a cognitive paradox: Although widely used to treat problems, they are cultural conventions and lack causal explanations for their effects. This raises a conceptual question: How do people evaluate the perceived efficacy of ritual action in the absence of causal information? Cristine examines the kinds of information that influence perceptions of the efficacy of ritual action. She proposes that information reflecting intuitive causal principles (i.e., repetition of procedures, number of procedural steps) and transcendental influence (such as the presence of religious icons) affect how people evaluate ritual efficacy. In an ongoing line of research in Brazil, she examines reasoning about religious or supernatural expertise, how ritual efficacy is evaluated, and how perceptions of control influence the evaluation of ritual efficacy.

Research questions:
How do we learn the rituals of our communities, and how do we evaluate how effective these rituals are?

See articles on reasoning about causality »

Cristine’s research on reasoning about causality is funded by the John Templeton Foundation.


Development of Scientific Reasoning

DEVELOPMENT OF EXPLANATION AND EXPLORATION

Children actively seek to understand the world around them—they seek explanations for why and how things happen. Cristine proposes that unexpected or anomalous events are powerful triggers for explanatory reasoning. Children try to explain unexpected phenomena and they explore causal connections through play. In ongoing work, Cristine is examining how children’s explanations and exploratory play behavior work in tandem to guide their causal learning and scientific reasoning, and the implications of this process for improving science education in schools and children’s museums.

Research questions:
What motivates and what constrains children’s causal explanatory reasoning—and how might this link to later science understanding?

DEVELOPMENT OF INQUIRY

Much of what children learn is based on information acquired through the testimony of others. In an ongoing line of research, Cristine is investigating the development of inquiry in early childhood. She examines how children learn from other people and the development of questions as strategic problem-solving tools.

Research questions:
What strategies do children use to learn from others?
How do children use questions as tools to acquire new knowledge?

See articles on the development of scientific reasoning »

Cristine’s research on the development of scientific reasoning is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation as part of the Explaining, Exploring, and Scientific Reasoning in Museum Settings Project.


Biothought

Research on reasoning about biological processes like illness, contamination, and evolution provides insight into the nature and development of concepts and categories. Cristine has conducted extensive research in South Africa on how people explain AIDS and is currently examining cross-cultural variation in how people reason about the natural world across diverse ecological environments. In an ongoing line of research, she is also studying the cognitive biases that impede understanding of natural selection to develop better ways to teach evolutionary concepts.

Research questions:
How does biological reasoning develop and how do cognition and culture co-construct biological thought?
How can understanding biological reasoning be used to improve biology and health education?

Cognition, Culture, and Development Lab


In the Cognition, Culture, and Development Laboratory, we study the ontogeny of cultural learning. Our team of cognitive developmental scientists studies the interplay of our universal mind and the variation of human culture.

 


The lab is located in the psychology department at The University of Texas at Austin. The members of the Cognition, Culture, and Development Laboratory are:

Lab Manager 

Adam is the CCD Lab Manager. Adam graduated from UT Austin with a B.A. in Psychology in 2013. He is also an alumnus of the Cognition, Culture, and Development Lab, where he focused on studying social and cognitive development displayed through parental influences in a cross-cultural context. After graduating, he spent 9 months teaching children in Costa Rica while volunteering with the Ministry of Environment and Energy, expanding his interests in cross-cultural development and environmental conservation.

Research Scientists

Rachel is a postdoctoral researcher at UT Austin. She has a doctorate in cognitive and evolutionary anthropology from the University of Oxford. Her research interests include cognitive and evolutionary approaches to understanding religion, cultural transmission, social learning, and ritual.

Andre is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at The University of Alabama. His research focuses primarily on cognitive judgments, decision-making, and the development of belief systems. He investigates how feelings of uncertainty and modes of thinking affects the way people judge the efficacy of actions. He is also interested in quantitative analysis.  His expertise ranges from basic statistical models to advanced multivariate, structural equation modeling, Bayesian statistics and non-parametric statistical models. 

Alyana is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas at Austin. She received her doctorate in social psychology from the University of British Columbia. Her research interests focus around how basic cognitive functions, such as mind perception and causal reasoning, and cultural environments come together to create complex belief systems. She has conducted research on the religious, spiritual but not religious, and non-religious in North America and Europe, and is currently exploring the prevalence, causes, and consequences of witchcraft and karma beliefs around the world. She conducts field research in Fiji, where she works with Hindu, Muslim, and Christian populations exploring the bonds and divisions between religious and ethnic identities.

Graduate Students 

Jennifer is a fifth year Ph.D. candidate at UT Austin. She graduated from Emory University in 2011 with a B.A. in Psychology and Linguistics. She received her M.A. in Psychology in 2013 from UT Austin. Over the course of her graduate career, she has studied children’s use of imitation as a tool for social learning. Her research often involves exploring children’s social and cognitive development in context and she draws on her interdisciplinary training in order to develop studies that more accurately reflect children’s learning as it occurs in their daily lives.

Justin is a third year Ph.D. student at UT Austin. He received his B.A. in 2009 from the University of Colorado, Boulder in ecology and evolutionary biology and his M.A. in psychology in 2015 from UT Austin. Prior to coming to UT, he worked as a research assistant at the University of Colorado and Columbia University. Justin’s research interests include intuitive causal reasoning and studying religious cognition from an evolutionary perspective. He is also interested in science education.

Nicole is a third year Ph.D. student at UT Austin. She graduated from UT Austin in 2013 with a B.S. in Psychology, a B.A. in Plan II Honors, and a minor in history.She received her M.A. in Psychology in 2015 from UT Austin. Nicole's research interests include the development of social cognition and examining the imitative foundations of cultural learning. She is interested in examining the effects of social conventions on children’s social group cognition in order to understand how rituals facilitate group cohesion and identity formation. 

Frances is a fourth year Ph.D. student at UT Austin. She graduated from the University of Texas-Pan American in 2008 with a B.S. in Biology with a double minor in Chemistry and Spanish.  After graduation, she entered a post baccalaureate program at Baylor College of Medicine and later studied in Germany before deciding Psychology is the field which interests her most. In 2012, she received a M.A. in Experimental Psychology from UTPA and subsequently joined the Psychology Department at UT Austin. Her research interests include the development of social group cognition and reasoning about social information.

Collaborating Graduate Students 

Emily is a fourth year Ph.D. student at UC San Diego, where she is working in Professor Leslie Carver's Developmental Neuroscience Lab. She is currently a visiting student researcher in the CCD Lab at UT Austin. Emily received her B.A. in psychology from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2010. Her research interests include how parent-infant interactions relate to early cognitive development in different cultural contexts.

Sarah is a third year Ph.D. student at the University of St Andrews under the supervision of Professor Andrew Whiten. She graduated from the University of St Andrews in 2012 with a B.Sc. in Psychology. She received her M.Sc. in 2013 from Queen's University Belfast in Atypical Child Development. Sarah's research interests include the evolution of culture with a comparative focus on behavioral flexibility in chimpanzees and children.

Dan is a fifth year Ph.D. student at UT Austin. He graduated from UT in 2011 with a B.S. in psychology. Dan is interested in all things evolution, but his research focuses on quantitative approaches to mate preferences and mate selection as well as relationships between fertility and psychology

2015 Lab

2014 Lab

Publications



Ontogeny of Cultural Learning

Humans are a social species and much of what we know we learn from others. In a systematic program of interdisciplinary and cross-cultural research, Cristine's objective is to develop a cognitive developmental account of how children flexibly use imitation and innovation as dual engines of cultural learning. She integrates a novel theoretical perspective on cultural learning with mixed-methodologies in the following lines of research: Flexible imitation and innovation, learning across cultures and social contexts, and homo rituals. 

The Social Functions of Group Rituals (PDF)→

R.E. Watson-Jones and C.H. Legare (2016). Current Directions in Psychological Science, 25, 42-46. DOI: 10.1177/0963721415618486


In-Group Ostracism Increases High Fidelity Imitation in Early Childhood (PDF)→

R. Watson-Jones, H. Whitehouse, and C.H. Legare (2016). Psychological Science, 27(1), 34-42.


Ritual Increases Children’s Affiliation With In-Group Members (PDF)→

N. Wen, P.A. Herrmann, and C.H. Legare (2016). Evolution and Human Behavior, 37, 54–60.


Instrumental and Conventional Interpretations of Behavior Are Associated With Distinct Outcomes in Early Childhood (PDF)→

Jennifer M. Clegg and C.H. Legare (2016). Child Development.


Cultural Variation in Triadic Infant-Caregiver Object Exploration→

E.E. Little, L.J. Carver, and C.H. Legare (2015, in press). Child Development.


The Evolution and Ontogeny of Ritual (book chapter) [PDF]→

C.H. Legare and R.E. Watson-Jones (2015). In D. M. Buss (Ed.), The Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology (pp. 829-847). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons.


Imitation and Innovation: The Dual Engines of Cultural Learning (PDF)→

C.H. Legare and M. Nielsen (2015). Feature article in Trends in Cognitive Sciences (TICS), 19, 688-699.


Imitative Flexibility and the Development of Cultural Learning→

C.H. Legare, N.J. Wen, P.A. Herrmann, and H. Whitehouse (2015). Cognition, 142, 351-361.


The Effects of Ritual on Social Group Cognition (PDF)→

C.H. Legare and N.J. Wen (2014). ISSBD Bulletin, 66(2), 9-12.


Task-Specific Effects of Ostracism on Imitative Fidelity in Early Childhood (PDF)→

R.E. Watson-Jones, C.H. Legare, H. Whitehouse, and J.M. Clegg (2014). Evolution and Human Behavior, 35, 204-210.


C.H. Legare and P.A. Herrmann  (2013). Religion, Brain and Behavior, 3, 63-65.


 

Reasoning About Causality

Cristine examines how children and adults navigate the task of reconciling different kinds of causal explanations—such as natural and supernatural explanations—to make sense of the world around them. Research conducted across a variety of domains, age groups, and cultural contexts has demonstrated several different ways that natural and supernatural explanations are accommodated, reconciled, and used to explain multiple levels of causality. Cristine also examines the kinds of information that influence perceptions of the efficacy of ritual action. She proposes that information reflecting intuitive causal principles (i.e., repetition of procedures, number of procedural steps) and transcendental influence (such as the presence of religious icons) affect how people evaluate ritual efficacy. 

The Social Functions of Group Rituals (PDF)→

R.E. Watson-Jones and C.H. Legare (2016). Current Directions in Psychological Science, 25, 42-46. DOI: 10.1177/0963721415618486


In-Group Ostracism Increases High Fidelity Imitation in Early Childhood (PDF)→

R. Watson-Jones, H. Whitehouse, and C.H. Legare (2016). Psychological Science, 27(1), 34-42.


Ritual Increases Children’s Affiliation With In-Group Members (PDF)→

N. Wen, P.A. Herrmann, and C.H. Legare (2016). Evolution and Human Behavior, 37, 54–60.


Instrumental and Conventional Interpretations of Behavior Are Associated With Distinct Outcomes in Early Childhood (PDF)→

Jennifer M. Clegg and C.H. Legare (2016). Child Development. 


The Evolution and Ontogeny of Ritual (book chapter) [PDF]→

C.H. Legare and R.E. Watson-Jones (2015). In D. M. Buss (Ed.), The Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology (pp. 829-847). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons.


Imitation and Innovation: The Dual Engines of Cultural Learning (PDF)→

C.H. Legare and M. Nielsen (2015). Feature article in Trends in Cognitive Sciences (TICS), 19, 688-699. 


Imitative Flexibility and the Development of Cultural Learning→

C.H. Legare, N.J. Wen, P.A. Herrmann, and H. Whitehouse (2015). Cognition, 142, 351-361.


The Effects of Ritual on Social Group Cognition (PDF)→

C.H. Legare and N.J. Wen (2014). ISSBD Bulletin, 66(2), 9-12. 


Task-Specific Effects of Ostracism on Imitative Fidelity in Early Childhood (PDF)→

R.E. Watson-Jones, C.H. Legare, H. Whitehouse, and J.M. Clegg (2014). Evolution and Human Behavior, 35, 204-210. 


Searching for Control: Priming Randomness Increases the Evaluation of Ritual Efficacy (PDF)→

C.H. Legare and A. Souza (2014). Cognitive Science, 38, 152-161. 


Stick to the Script: The Effect of Witnessing Multiple Actors on Children’s Imitation [PDF]→

P.A. Herrmann, C.H. Legare, P.L. Harris, and H. Whitehouse (2013). Cognition, 129, 536-543. 


Cognitive Consequences and Constraints on Reasoning About Ritual [PDF]→

C.H. Legare and P.A. Herrmann  (2013). Religion, Brain and Behavior, 3, 63-65.


Development of Scientific Reasoning

In ongoing work, Cristine is examining how children’s explanations and exploratory play behavior work in tandem to guide their causal learning and scientific reasoning, and the implications of this process for improving science education in schools and children’s museums.In another ongoing line of research, Cristine is investigating the development of inquiry in early childhood. She examines how children learn from other people and the development of questions as strategic problem-solving tools.

C.H. Legare and J.M. Clegg (2015). In S. Robson and S. Quinn (Eds.), Routledge International Handbook on Young Children's Thinking and Understanding (pp. 65-74). Routledge. 


Explaining Prompts Children to Privilege Inductively Rich Properties→

C. Walker, T. Lombrozo, C.H. Legare, and A. Gopnik (2014). Cognition, 133, 343-357.


Causal Learning in Children (PDF)→

D.M. Sobel and C.H. Legare (2014). WIREs Cognitive Science. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1291. 


C.H. Legare (2014). Child Development Perspectives, 8, 101-106.


Anthropomorphizing Science: How Does It Affect the Development of Evolutionary Concepts? [PDF]→

C.H. Legare, J. Lane, and E.M. Evans (2013). Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 59, 168-197.


 The Coexistence of Natural and Supernatural Explanations Across Cultures and Development [PDF]→

C.H. Legare, E.M. Evans, K.S. Rosengren, and P.L. Harris (2012). Child Development, 83, 779-793. 


C.H. Legare and A. Visala (2011). Human Development, 54, 169-184.


 Inconsistency With Prior Knowledge Triggers Children’s Causal Explanatory Reasoning [PDF]→

C.H. Legare, S.A. Gelman, and H.M. Wellman (2010). Child Development, 81, 929-944.


Engaging Multiple Epistemologies: Implications for Science Education (book chapter) [PDF]→

E.M. Evans, C.H. Legare, and K. Rosengren (2010). In M. Ferrari & R. Taylor (Eds.) Epistemology and Science Education: Understanding the Evolution vs. Intelligent Design Controversy (pp. 111-139). New York, NY: Routledge.

 


Biothought

Research on reasoning about biological processes like illness, contamination, and evolution provides insight into the nature and development of concepts and categories. Cristine has conducted extensive research in South Africa on how people explain AIDS and is currently examining cross-cultural variation in how people reason about the natural world across diverse ecological environments. In an ongoing line of research, she is also studying the cognitive biases that impede understanding of natural selection to develop better ways to teach evolutionary concepts.

 

Interdisciplinary and Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Explanatory Coexistence (PDF)→

R. Watson-Jones, J.A. Busch, and C.H. Legare (2015). Topics in Cognitive Science, 7, 611–623. 


 Examining Explanatory Biases in Young Children’s Biological Reasoning (PDF)→

C.H. Legare and S.A. Gelman (2014). Journal of Cognition and Development, 15, 287-303.


Examining Biological Explanations in Chinese Preschool Children: A Cross-Cultural Comparison [PDF]→

C.H. Legare, L. Zhu, and H. Wellman (2013). Journal of Cognition and Culture, 13, 67-93.


The Coexistence of Natural and Supernatural Explanations Across Cultures and Development [PDF]→

C.H. Legare, E.M. Evans, K.S. Rosengren, and P.L. Harris (2012). Child Development, 83, 779-793.


Concepts and Folk Theories [PDF]→

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


E.M. Evans, C.H. Legare, and K. Rosengren (2010). In M. Ferrari & R. Taylor (Eds.) Epistemology and Science Education: Understanding the Evolution vs. Intelligent Design Controversy (pp. 111-139). New York, NY: Routledge.


Evidence for an Explanation Advantage in Naïve Biological Reasoning [PDF]→

C.H. Legare, H.M. Wellman, and S.A. Gelman (2009). Cognitive Psychology, 58, 177-194.



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