Thousands of parents and their children have helped us learn more about child development! Learn about what parents have helped us discover in our peer-reviewed academic papers below. Click the links to download the papers.
Independent problem solving (IPS) involves solving problems alone; with motivation and persistence; without watching others; or requesting or receiving help. The Early Independent Problem Solving Survey (EIPSS) was developed for 12- to 47-month-olds. Study 1 (N = 272) found good internal reliability and a 2-factor structure: Repetitive (repeatedly solvable problems, e.g., jigsaws) and Novel IPS (one-off problems, e.g., reaching out-of-reach toys). Study 2 (N = 567) confirmed good internal reliability and the 2-factor structure. Study 3 (N = 85) found a positive correlation between a divergent thinking lab measure and Novel IPS. Study 4 found good 6-month-longitudinal stability (N = 110) for the EIPSS and its subscales; and good agreement between parents (N = 32) for the Repetitive subscale. Study 5 (all data combined) demonstrated no item functioning differences across demographic variables. Differences for child age, child gender, parent age, and parent education were found for the EIPSS and subscales.
We examined the relations between humor and social cognition in early development. In Study 1, 84 3- to 47-month-olds completed social cognition and humor lab tasks. Parents completed the Early Social Cognition Inventory and the Early Humor Survey. Once age was controlled for, there was a positive relation between the parental surveys, but no relation between the lab tasks. Study 2 (N = 573) extended the surveys to a large diverse sample, finding this relation held for children under 1 year, and 1-, 2-, and 3-year-olds; and within gender, socio-economic status (parent education; household income), country (UK, USA), and ethnicity (Black, Asian, and minority ethnic ethnicity, White ethnicity). In Study 3, 214 parents from Study 2 repeated the surveys six months later. Humor predicted social cognition, but not the reverse. Social cognition and humor may be related in day-to-day life, but this relationship is difficult to capture in the laboratory.
We report five studies in which we developed and tested a new 20-question parent-report measure of humour development for children from 1–47 months: the Early Humour Survey (EHS). These studies, involving 890 parents and their children from around the world (including Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States). Focussing on 671 of the parent reports, we charted the ages at which 25%, 50%, and 75% of children appreciate 20 different types of humour, including peekaboo, misusing objects, and mislabeling. Parents can look at the last 3 columns of Table 1 in the paper to find out when they might expect their children to appreciate different types of humour. Parents were very good reporters of their children’s humour – when both parents reported on their children’s humour separately, they generally reported the same things. Our research found that the EHS can be used in different English-speaking countries, and with parents of different levels of education. When pooling all data, we found no differences in humour development across demographic variables, including country, parent education, or child gender. The EHS is a valuable tool that will allow researchers to understand how humour: (1) emerges; and (2) affects other aspects of life, e.g., making friends, coping with stress, and creativity. The EHS is helpful for parents, early years educators, and children’s media, as it systematically charts early humour development.
Social cognition refers to the ability to understand other people’s minds. It involves skills such as understanding others’ intentions, desires, and beliefs. These skills are important for children to learn language, learn how objects work, and understand other people’s perspectives. Social cognition is a skill that starts to develop from birth, but continues to develop throughout childhood. We report six studies in which we developed and tested a new 21-question parent-report measure of social cognition for children from 0–47 months: the Early Social Cognition Inventory (ESCI). These studies, involving 984 parents and their children from around the world (including Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, United States, Trinidad and Tobago), found that we can use the ESCI to track young children’s socio cognitive development. Parents were very good reporters of their children’s skills – when both parents reported on their children’s abilities separately, they generally reported the same things. We also tested one group of children in the lab on a series of social cognition tasks, and found that the parent reports strongly matched how well children did on the tasks. Our research found that the ESCI can be used in different English-speaking countries, with parents of different ethnic backgrounds, and parents of different levels of education. ESCI scores related positively with household income (within the UK); children with siblings had higher scores; and Australian parents reported lower scores than American, British, and Canadian parents.