Early Emotion Understanding: When do Babies Learn about Emotions?

As human beings, we are particularly adept at discerning the emotions of others. Whether it’s our angry boss, saddened family members, or happy friends, we usually succeed at identifying emotional expressions in other people. These judgments let us adjust our behavior accordingly in complex social situations. It has allowed our species to avoid people who would do us harm, embrace people who need support, provide empathy to others, and bond with one another. Overall, reading…

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Psychology Classics: Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development

This post is part of our ongoing series exploring classic experiments and theories in the history of psychological research. Jean Piaget (1896-1980) was a Swiss developmental psychologist. While he made many contributions to the field, his most notable is his systematic study of cognitive development. Early psychologists assumed that infants saw the world as a “blooming, buzzing confusion” (William James); Piaget theorized that even the youngest infants were learning how to make sense of their environments. According…

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Got Issues: Blame Your Grandma

The idea of the tabula rasa is all but forgotten. Advances in modern genetics have taught us that not only are we not a blank slate at birth, but we are not even simply the product of our genes. The environment interacts with our genes to shape our development, however, it is not only OUR environment that does so. Let me tell you about an early discovery that led to this knowledge. In 1944, a…

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Scientific Support for Same-Sex Parents

An article was published today in the Huffington Post, titled “Romney: ‘Some Gays Are Actually Having Children. It’s Not Right on Paper. It’s Not Right in Fact.’” The article reviews a Boston Globe piece from yesterday in which some of Romney’s actions as governor of Massachusetts indicate his antipathy towards gay marriage. In particular, the article criticizes the fact that Romney refused to allow the Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records and Statistics to revise birth…

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