Portrait of a PhD student: Siba Ghrear and social perspective taking

Siba Ghrear

How do children make sense of others’ thoughts and beliefs? How does this change as they grow up? UBC Psychology PhD student Siba Ghrear seeks to answer these questions in a study on social perspective taking.

Siba has also co-authored a study with UBC Psychology professor Susan Birch about children learning with interactive media. Receiving several awards during her graduate career, including the SSHRC Graduate Scholarships and the Spring Graduate Awards Competition, Siba’s dedication to her studies does not go unnoticed.

Today, Siba shares about her research and why she chose to pursue a graduate degree in Psychology at UBC.

Research description

My research investigates the development of social perspective taking in childhood. Particularly, I examine how children begin to make sense of other individuals’ thoughts and beliefs, and how this ability changes across the lifespan. I am also curious about the different factors that either contribute to social perspective taking or interfere with it. For example, I am currently examining the effect of the ‘curse of knowledge’ on social perspective taking. The curse of knowledge is a tendency to overestimate the apparentness of one’s own knowledge when reasoning about less informed perspectives. For example, individuals who know about an outcome of an event are likely to overestimate the likelihood that other people would predict that outcome. This bias causes false impressions of what others may know and limits our ability to understand one another. I examine the developmental trajectory of the curse of knowledge’s effect on social reasoning. I also examine how the curse of knowledge affects children’s social reasoning cross-culturally, and how it relates to social wellbeing. In the near future, I also aim to explore different techniques that can facilitate our ability to overcome this bias when reasoning about other perspectives, and ultimately improve our social perspective-taking capacity.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I decided to study at UBC because I was very interested in Dr. Susan Birch’s research. I was also particularly interested in pursuing graduate school at UBC because it has one of the best psychology departments in Canada. Also, the developmental area at UBC is very strong and collaborative. I truly feel fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from the developmental faculty at UBC.

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I decided to pursue a graduate degree in psychology because I have always been fascinated by the field. I was very keen to contribute to psychological research, particularly developmental psychology. I find research very exciting! I love exploring new approaches to better examine different research questions. I also love learning from experts in the field and sharing my own ideas.

This post was originally featured on the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies website.

Do you think other UBC graduate students could learn from your experiences? If so, we’d love to hear from you. Please complete the online submission form.