The School of Psychology has three internationally recognised research groups in developmental psychology:
The cognition and development group, headed by Professor Brett Hayes, focuses on developmental change in complex cognitive processes such as concept formation, categorisation, reasoning and memory. We’re also interested in the implications of fundamental research on human cognitive development for pre-school and primary education.
Current projects include examining the development of inductive reasoning in young children and identifying factors that promote change in children’s scientific concepts. We have an outstanding track record of success in securing research funding and have state-of-the-art facilities for measuring perceptual and cognitive responses in young children. We also have a mobile testing laboratory for field research.
The developmental psychopathology research group, headed by Associate Professor Eva Kimonis, broadly focuses on the development of antisocial and aggressive behaviour. Within this broad area, there is a specialised focus on atypical development of moral emotions, which at its extremes manifest as callous-unemotional traits (ie. lack of empathy, lack of guilt, uncaring attitudes, lack of concern about school/work performance).
Children and adolescents with callous-unemotional traits are at heightened risk for antisocial, aggressive and criminal behaviour across the lifespan, and these traits are thought to precede adult psychopathy and to be preceded by a fearless temperament in early childhood.
Current projects include examining emotional deficits in individuals with callous-unemotional traits across the lifespan, refining the measurement of callous-unemotional traits and testing whether early intervention improves emotional deficits and the antisocial and aggressive outcomes they are thought to mediate.
Within its state-of-the-art facilities, the research group is conducting cutting-edge innovative research to better understand the development of severe and persistent antisocial behaviour across the lifespan.
Through its community partnerships with organisations including Karitane, this research has a translational focus in applying new knowledge gained to the development of targeted prevention and intervention programs for young children with antisocial behaviour.
The Early Learning Project at UNSW is directed by Associate Professor Jenny Richmond. Our research focuses on the development of learning, memory and emotional understanding during infancy and early childhood. We're particularly interested in how brain development drives the changes we see in encoding, retention and retrieval and how infants and children come to share and understand emotion in others. Our studies combine eye-tracking, behavioural methods and psychophysiology to understand the mechanisms that underlie developmental change.