Research interests:
The overarching goal of my research is to more fully understand the development of social perspective taking, or ‘theory of mind’ broadly construed. I’m interested in perspective-taking abilities across the lifespan. How do we reason about what someone else knows, feels, intends, etc. and how do these abilities impact other aspects of development? One line of research explores limitations in perspective-taking and the factors associated with these limitations (e.g., cognitive biases, source monitoring difficulties). A second line of research focuses on how children’s perspective-taking abilities influence what, and how, they learn from others. For example, how do they make inferences about who is a credible, or knowledgeable, source of information? A third line of investigation explores the relationships between different aspects of social perspective taking and social-emotional health and development.

Susan Birch is also part of the Early Development Research Group, a consortium of six research centers interested in the development of language, learning, and social understanding in infants and children.

Chudek, M., Heller, S., Birch S., & Henrich, J. (2012). Prestige-biased cultural learning: Bystander’s differential attention to potential models influences children’s learning. Evolution and Human Behaviour, 33, 46-56.

Brosseau-Liard, P.E., & Birch, S. A. J. (2011). Epistemic states and traits: Preschoolers appreciate the differential informativeness of situation-specific and person-specific cues to knowledge. Child Development, 82, 1788-1796.

Brosseau-Liard, P. E., & Birch, S. A. J. (2010). I bet you know more and are nicer too!’: What children infer from others’ accuracy. Developmental Science, 13, 772-778.

Birch, S. A. J., Akmal, N. & Frampton, K. L. (2010). Two-year-olds are vigilant of others’ nonverbal cues to credibility. Developmental Science, 13, 363-369.

Birch, S. A. J., Vauthier, S. A., & Bloom, P. (2008). Three- and four-year-olds spontaneously use others’ past performance to guide their learning. Cognition, 107, 1018-1034.

Birch, S. A. J. (2005). When knowledge is a curse: Biases in mental state attribution. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14, 25-29.