Chuck Kalish, Emeritus Professor, Department of Educational Psychology
My research focuses on inductive inference and causal reasoning– how do we predict the future and learn from experience? One line of research explores how children acquire the set of commonsense beliefs that characterize adult thinking. I am particularly interested in children’s developing appreciation of physical and intentional causality. Current research addresses the role of norms in social cognition. How does children’s understanding of rules and obligations develop, and what role does such understanding play in predicting and explaining people’s behavior? A second line of research concerns more general processes of categorization and inference. We explore how people use evidence to make category-based inductions, and how beliefs about the nature and origins of categories affect learning and judgment.
The ability to generalize past experience to new situations, to make inductive inferences, is central to what we think of as learning. We want children to know how to use what they have already learned to make successful judgments about new and less familiar circumstances. I hope that studying the process of generalization will tell us more about how children learn.