Current Studies



Our research studies are designed for young children, which are non-evaluative and game-like. These usually involve simple tasks, such as pointing or labeling. Some of the ones we are currently working on are:


16+ Apple Clipart Png in 2020 | Fruit clipart, Apple clip art, Apple fruit  images Origins  

This examines 3- to 5-year-olds’ knowledge on the origins of familiar and unfamiliar natural and processed foods, non-food natural items and artifacts. We ask whether each item was grown in a garden or made in a factory. A follow up study will determine whether the origins of foods influence how we think about its nutrition (e.g., is a food that is grown in a garden healthy or unhealthy).

546 Two Boys Talking Illustrations, Royalty-Free Vector Graphics & Clip Art  - iStock Social Dilemmas 

We’re trying to determine if 4th graders’ (8- to 10-year-olds) right or wrong judgments of others’ behaviors shift based on the community’s agreement or disagreement of them. In this case, some children hear about unconventional behaviors that occur in a local community and some children hear about these same behaviors, but occurring in a place where it’s considered normal.

Cartoon thought bubble Vector clip art - Free vector for free download | Thought  bubbles, Free clip art, Bubble drawing Ownership from Collaborations 

We’re investigating whether 4- to 7-year-olds pay attention to the quality of ideas when two people collaborate on a project. Children watch short videos of two people working on a project whose ideas provide differing values towards the final creation and are asked to select a single owner.

Transparent Cartoon Nose Png - Sneezing Clipart , Free Transparent Clipart  - ClipartKey Illness and Contagion  

Currently, there are close to 489 million confirmed cases of coronavirus and 79 million of which are in the United States (World Health Organization [WHO], 4/2022). The consequences have been devastating across almost every aspect of life, including increases in economic loss, online instruction, isolation, domestic and child abuse, mental health disease, poverty, food insecurity, addiction, homelessness and loss of life from both coronavirus and non-coronavirus diseases (e.g., heart disease). To examine this powerful environmental influence, we will include examples of coronavirus and a contagious non-coronavirus illness, as well as a non-contagious illness for comparison. This pandemic has also exposed deep inequities with higher rates of both infection and death in minorities and in low income areas. It is critical to determine whether these factors influence children’s understanding of the infection and spread of coronavirus. Samples will, therefore, include those from low-income areas and encompass diverse ethnic and race backgrounds. Lastly, we will investigate whether young children use social categories, such as race, gender and ethnicity, to determine contamination or infection of coronavirus.

Completed Studies

Girgis, H. & Nguyen, S.P. (2020). Grown or made? Children's determination of the origins of natural versus processed foods, Cognitive Development, 56, 100887.

Nguyen, S. P., Girgis, H., & Knopp, J. (2019). A ladybug bear can fly and climb trees: Children prefer conjunctions of labels and properties for cross-classifiable toys, Infant and Child Development.

Girgis, H. & Nguyen, S. P. (2018). Shape or substance?  Children’s strategy when labeling a food and its healthfulness, Cognitive Development, 48, 289-301.

Byers-Heinlein, K., Behrend, D. A., Said, L. M., Girgis, H., & Poulin-Dubois, D. (2017). Monolingual and bilingual children’s social preferences for monolingual and bilingual speakers, Developmental Science,20(4), 1-12.

Nguyen, S. P., Gordon, C. L., Chevalier, T., & Girgis, H. (2016). Trust and doubt: An examination of children’s decision to believe what they are told about food. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 144, 66-83.

Nguyen, S.P., Girgis, H., & Robinson, J. (2015).  Predictors of children's food selection: The role of children's perceptions of the health and taste of foods. Food Preference and Quality, 40, 106-109.