Jacqueline D Woolley


Associate FacultyPh.D., University of Michigan

Professor
Jacqueline D Woolley

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Biography


My research addresses children's understanding of reality, a topic with a long history that continues to intrigue and perplex developmental psychologists. Knowledge about how children evaluate new information and make proper assignment of entities to real and not-real categories is especially critical in the media rich age in which we live. Young children are bombarded with information and images offering a mix of the real and the fantastical: Elmo, a monster, teaches children about science, and Harry Potter, a human child, performs magic spells. Amidst this, children continuously encounter novel entities and events, and must assign these entities and events to their proper (real or not real) categories.

The goal of my research is to investigate how children make reality status judgments when they encounter novel information. I am assessing the effects of three broad classes of factors: (1) characteristics of the individual child (e.g., age), (2) characteristics of the stimulus (e.g., internal consistency of the attributes of a novel entity), and (3) effects of the environment (e.g., the context in which children encounter a novel entity). All of these are proposed to affect how children evaluate the reality status of novel entities and events.

It is imperative that children be taught to think critically about new information. To do this, researchers and educators must first understand how children identify and separate real from unreal. The findings of the studies in my lab have important implications for preschool and elementary education, parenting, and clinical practice with young children.


Dr. Woolley's research is funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (Grant Number R01 HD030300).


Recent Publications

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Lopez-Mobilia, G. & Woolley, J. D. (in press). The roles of knowledge and expert testimony in children’s reality status judgments. Journal of Cognition and Development.

 Woolley, J. D. & McInnis, M. (2105). Young children’s understanding of invisibility and its relation to the appearance-reality distinction. Cognitive Development, 34, 63-75.

Woolley, J. D. & Cornelius, C. (2013). Beliefs in magical beings and cultural myths. In M. Taylor (Ed.), Oxford Handbook on The Development of Imagination. Oxford University Press.

Woolley, J. D. & Ghossainy, M. (2013). Revisiting the fantasy-reality distinction: Children as naïve skeptics. Child Development, 84, 1491-1495.

Ma, L. & Woolley, J. D. (2013). Children’s sensitivity to speaker gender when learning from others. Journal of Cognition and Development, 14, 100-119.

Woolley, J.D., Ma. L. & Lopez-Mobilia, G. (2011). Development of the use of conversational cues to assess reality status. Journal of Cognition and Development, 12, 537-555.

Vaden, V. C. & Woolley, J. D. (2011). Does God make it real? Children’s belief in religious stories from the Judeo-Christian tradition. Child Development, 82, 1120-1135.

Woolley, J. D., Cornelius, C., & Lacy, W. (2011). Developmental changes in the use of supernatural explanations for unusual events. Journal of Cognition and Culture, 11, 311-337.

Boerger, E. A., Tullos, S. A. & Woolley, J. D. (2009). Return of the Candy Witch: Individual differences in acceptance and stability of beliefs in a novel fantastical being. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 27 (4), 953-970. 

Woolley, J. D. and Cox, V. (2007). Development of beliefs about storybook reality. Developmental Science, 10, 681-693.

 

Selected Publications


 

Woolley, J. D. & Ghossainy, M. (2013). Revisiting the fantasy-reality distinction: Children as naïve skeptics. Child Development, 84, 1491-1495.

Ma, L. & Woolley, J. D. (2013). Children’s sensitivity to speaker gender when learning from othersJournal of Cognition and Development, 14, 100-119.

Woolley, J.D., Ma. L. & Lopez-Mobilia, G. (2011). Development of the use of conversational cues to assess reality statusJournal of Cognition and Development, 12, 537-555. (Available from the author, woolley@psy.utexas.edu)

Woolley, J. D., Cornelius, C., & Lacy, W. (2011). Developmental changes in the use of supernatural explanations for unusual eventsJournal of Cognition and Culture, 11, 311-337.

Vaden, V. C. & Woolley, J. D. (2011). Does God make it real? Children's belief in religious stories from the Judeo-Christian traditionChild Development, 82, 1120-1135.

Woolley, J. D. & Cornelius, C. (in press). Beliefs in magical beings and cultural myths. In M. Taylor (Ed.), Oxford Handbook on The Development of Imagination. Oxford University Press. (Available from the author, woolley@psy.utexas.edu)

Tullos, A., & Woolley, J. D. (2009). The development of children’s ability to use evidence to infer reality statusChild Development, 80(1), 101-114.

Boerger, E. A., Tullos, S. A., & Woolley, J. D. (2009) Return of the Candy Witch: Individual differences in acceptance and stability of belief in a novel fantastical beingBritish Journal of Developmental Psychology, 27, 953-970.

Woolley, J. D., & Tullos, A. (2008). Imagination and fantasy. In M. Haith, & J. Benson (Eds.) Encyclopedia of Infant and Early Childhood Development, Elsevier Press (pp. 117-127).

Woolley, J. D. and Cox, V. (2007). Development of beliefs about storybook realityDevelopmental Science, 10, 681-693.

Woolley, J. D. (2006). Verbal–Behavioral Dissociations in DevelopmentChild Development, 77(6), 1539–1553.

Woolley, J. D., Browne, C. A. & Boerger, E. A. (2006). Constraints on children's judgments of magical causalityJournal of Cognition and Development, 7(2), 253-277.

Woolley, J. D. & Van Reet, J. (2006). Effects of context on judgments of the reality status of novel entities. Child Development, 77(6), 1778–1793.

Sharon, T. & Woolley, J. D. (2004) Do monsters dream? Young children’s understanding of the fantasy/reality distinctionBritish Journal of Developmental Psychology, 22, 293–310.

Woolley, J. D., Boerger, E. A. & Markman, A. B. (2004). A visit from the Candy Witch: factors influencing young children’s belief in a novel fantastical beingDevelopmental Science 7:4, 456–468.

Woolley, J. D. (2000). The development of beliefs about mental-physical causality in imagination, magic, and religion. In K. Rosengren, C. Johnson, & P. L. Harris (Eds.) Imagining the impossible: Magical, scientific, and religious thinking in children, Cambridge University Press.


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