Social Learning Lab

Stanford University

Contact Us


sll.stanford [at]


(650) 498-7832

Mailing address

Social Learning Lab
450 Serra Mall
Jordan Hall, Building 420
Stanford, CA 94301

Joining Our Lab

Undergraduate Research Assistants -- HIRING FALL 2018!!

Our lab welcomes enthusiastic, motivated undergraduate students to work during the school year and summer! Research assistants are involved in developing and making materials for studies, subject recruitment, and running experiments with children and adults. Some assistants may aid with fMRI scans (separate training required). Minimal commitment is 9 hours/week for at least two quarters and preferably longer. Candidate also must be comfortable recruiting families at public settings and interacting with them. Previous research experience and/or working with children are not necessary but preferable. Proficiency with MATLAB, R, and working with video editing software is also desirable.

To apply, please send your CV and this form (saved as YOURLASTNAME_APPLICATION.pdf) to Grace Bennett-Pierre (lab manager) at sll.stanford [at]

Projects with current openings:

Rational curiosity in social contexts (with Yang Wu): Infants’ use of others’ surprise to guide their exploration and discovery

“Why is the sky blue?” Young children constantly ask questions and explore their environment. However, question-asking decreases dramatically with formal schooling. To foster curiosity, prior research has focused on how to promote question-asking and guide learning through pedagogical questions. Our project complements this approach by focusing on the social nature of curiosity; we propose that even infants are sensitive to what others find interesting or surprising, and use it to rationally guide their learning and curiosity. To test this, we recruit infants and toddlers to participate in our study. We play a game with them and we measure their looking and exploratory behaviors given observations of others’ emotional reactions to events such as surprise and happiness. Understanding how such nonverbal emotional cues modulate learning will have implications for fostering and sustaining curiosity in older children. Join us if you are curious and are interested in learning more! (2-3 open positions)

What do others believe about me? (with Mika Asaba)

Understanding what others think of us is critical for our daily interactions with others. What are the roots of this ability, and how might young children do this? My projects focus on how children understand others’ beliefs about the self and how they communicate about the self to others. These games involve children failing and succeeding with different toys as an observer watches. We hypothesize that children’s subsequent communication to this observer will depend on what the observer has seen them do before (i.e., whether the observer knows that the child can or cannot make a toy work). These studies are important for understanding children’s interactions with others and ultimately how children make sense of who they are. (1 open position)

How do you take a big problem and break into smaller, more manageable pieces? (with Griffin Dietz)

The skill of problem decomposition is crucial in all aspects of daily life, from formal topics in schooling to time management and cooking. It is also one of the core ideas in Computer Science. CS education often targets older children, who have the reading and writing skills to learn programming language syntax, but if you remove syntax from the equation, CS education could, potentially, start at an earlier age. The general goal of this study is to learn how problem decomposition develops in children so we can better build tools to teach it. (1 open position)

How do children figure out what to teach? (with Sophie Bridgers)

I am a 5th year PhD student in the Social Learning Lab looking for research assistants to assist on two different projects ideally for at least two quarters. Overall my research explores how children learn from others, as well as how they share what they know with others in situations where they are asked to help and teach. The first project explores whether children understand that as a communicator of information (or as a teacher) if you have several learners who need to learn the same information, it is more efficient to teach them all at once as a group than individually. Our intuitions about how to most efficiently convey information influence the success of our one-on-one interactions, as well as the structure of our educational institutions. The second project explores whether children can use information about another person’s physical constraints (i.e., they are too big to crawl underneath a table) to figure out how best they can help (i.e., “I am smaller than this person and so I can crawl under the table to reach that toy for them.”) An understanding of your own physical abilities and how they compare to those of others is critical for taking coordinated action, as well as division of labor and cooperation more broadly. Research assistants participate in all aspects of the research process from designing experiments to building the stimuli we use in experiments to conducting the experiments with young children (2 to 5 years) to analyzing and presenting the results. Research assistants should be self-motivated, excited to spend time at Bing Nursery School and local science museums running studies with children, and interested in the field of developmental psychology. Prior research experience is not required. Prior experience working with children is critical. Acting experience is appreciated. (2 open positions)

Where to Find Us

The Social Learning Lab is located on the second floor of Jordan Hall. Our main offices are in room 285, and our testing space is located in rooms 261 and 263.


There is limited metered parking on the Campus Oval, near Jordan Hall. If you are traveling to Stanford for one of our studies, please contact us in advance so that we may make arrangements for your arrival. The following directions will lead you to the parking spaces around the Oval:

From I-280 S: Take the Sand Hill Rd. exit. Continue on Sand Hill Rd. for 2.2 milles, then turn right onto Stock Farm Rd. After driving 0.4 miles, turn left and drive on Campus Drive for 0.5 miles, then turn right onto Roth Way. Finally, turn right onto Palm Dr.

From I-280 N: Take the exit toward Palo Alto and continue for 1.2 miles, then turn left onto Junipero Serra Blvd. After 1.8 miles, turn right onto Campus Dr., then drive for 1.1 miles and turn right on Roth Way. Finally, turn right onto Palm Dr.

From I-101 S: Take the exit toward Willow Road W and continue for 1.0 mile. Turn left onto Middlefield Rd., then drive for 0.4 miles and turn right onto Lytton Ave. Continue for 0.6 miles, then turn left onto High St. and take the first right onto University Ave. Continue straight for 0.2 miles—once you pass the Caltrain station, University Ave. will turn into Palm Dr.

From I-101 N: Take the exit toward Embarcadero Rd and drive straight for 2.2 miles. Continue onto Galvez St. and, in 0.1 miles, take a slight right onto Arboretum Rd. Continue for 0.3 miles, then turn left onto Palm Dr. and continue straight for 0.7 miles.

Public transit:

Take the Caltrain to the Palo Alto Station. Stanford's free Marguerite shuttle will pass by periodically near the southbound platform. In particular, the following lines stop near our lab:

P: Take the shuttle to the Campus Oval. Walk west (passing Memorial Court on your left) for 0.1 miles, or approximately 2 minutes.

Y/Y-Lim/Y-Exp: Take the shuttle to the Galvez St. & Serra Mall stop, then walk west (passing Hoover Tower on your left) for 0.2 miles, or approximately 5 minutes.

Please consult the Caltrain and Marguerite schedules before your trip. Most Marguerite shuttle lines are not in service during the weekend or late in the evening. If you are traveling to Stanford for one of our studies, feel free to e-mail us for assistance.