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James W. Pennebaker, Chair The University of Texas at Austin, SEA 4.212, Austin, TX 78712 • (512) 475-7596

David Liu

Assistant Professor Ph.D., University of California, San Diego

Visiting Assistant Professor


  • Phone: NA
  • Office: SEA 5.232
  • Office Hours: NA
  • Campus Mail Code: A8000


David Liu is a visiting professor and Harrington Fellow in Developmental Psychology for the 2012-2013 academic year. His home institution web site is

Research Interests

My primary research aim is to understand the development of social concepts and how one reasons about causes of people's actions. One focus is on the emergence of theory of mind, the ability to attribute mental states as causes of actions, in early childhood. My lab uses behavioral and event-related brain potential (ERP) methodologies with children and adults to investigate the cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying developmental changes in this domain. A related line of research examines additional aspects of social-cognitive development, such as reasoning about people's traits. My research addresses fundamental questions about how the human mind develops and has implications for understanding developmental disorders that involve social and communicative deficits, such as autism.

Selected Publications

Liu, D., Gelman, S. A., & Wellman, H. M. (2007). Components of young children's trait understanding: Behavior-to-trait inferences and trait-to-behavior predictions. Child Development, 78, 1543-1558.

Liu, D., Wellman, H. M., Tardif, T., & Sabbagh, M. A. (in press). Theory of mind development in Chinese children: A meta-analysis of false-belief understanding across cultures and languages. Developmental Psychology.

Peterson, C. C., Wellman, H. M., & Liu, D. (2005). Steps in theory of mind development for children with deafness or autism. Child Development, 76, 502-517.

Liu, D., Sabbagh, M. A., Gehring, W. J., & Wellman, H. M. (2004). Decoupling beliefs from reality in the brain: An ERP study of theory of mind. NeuroReport, 15, 991-995.

Wellman, H. M. & Liu, D. (2004). Scaling of theory-of-mind tasks. Child Development, 75, 523-541.


The development of social concepts and how one reasons about causes of people's actions.
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