Social Learning Lab

Stanford University

Principal Investigator

Hyowon Gweon

website | CV | hyo [at]

I'm broadly interested in understanding the human ability to communicate – in particular, how we learn from others and teach others. My research brings together various approaches, aiming to provide a unified description of the cognitive and neural mechanisms that underlie the representations and inferential processes that allow us to learn and share about the world. As the PI of the Social Learning Lab, I'm thrilled to explore these questions with amazing people who all love to "learn from one another”!

Lab Manager

Stephen Sanders

stsander [at]

I have a background in philosophy and history and an MS in social and cultural psychology. I am generally interested in the phylogeny and ontogeny of distinctly human cognition. I am particularly interested in the development of moral and epistemic intuitions, social learning, and inferential processing. I intend to bolster my background in cognitive developmental neuroscience, and social neuroscience, then pursue a PhD in cognitive science. I love learning and teaching!


Yang Wu

website | yangwu1 [at]

Emotional cues are abundant in our daily lives. How do young children make sense of these cues? In my research, I study how infants and children use observed emotional signals to reason about the unknown world and to guide their learning and exploration. These abilities, I propose, are supported by an intuitive theory of emotion that is connected to children’s knowledge of the physical and social world broadly. The work spans methods from infant looking time measures to computational models. It advances our understanding of the remarkable human capacities to learn in social contexts, and bridges gaps across disciplines including developmental, cognitive and affective sciences.

Graduate Students

Mika Asaba

CV | masaba [at]

Who am I, and how do I know who I am? I am fascinated by how we form, maintain, and update representations of the self through observations and social interactions, and I am particularly interested in the developmental roots of these processes. My work is broadly centered around how young children learn about the self through interactions with others and how they strategically communicate about the self to others.

Sophie Bridgers

sbridge [at]

Currently, I study how children learn with others in different social contexts, and the implications for basic cognitive processes and learning outcomes. How might the presence of another mind affect the hypotheses a learner considers? Do the socio-dynamics of the environment impact a learner’s representation of the cost of information sharing? How, when, and why do children choose to teach others?

Natalia Vélez

nvelez [at]

Humans are efficient and adaptable learners, but we don't have to learn everything from scratch – some tasks, such as learning to drive a car or finding foods that are safe to eat, would be difficult, even dangerous, to do without gathering information from other people. My research explores how children and adults exploit the rich structure of the social world to decide when to learn from others and whom to learn from. I also designed this website!

Griffin Dietz

gdietz44 [at]

I am a doctoral student in Computer Science interested in the way that children's interactions and education are mediated and affected by technology. Currently, I am studying how child development should inform the way we teach computational thinking to young children. Specifically, how can we separate problem solving from programming to make Computer Science Education accessible to younger children?

Aaron Chuey

chuey [at]

Reasoning about knowledge is both a ubiquitous and necessary part of human life. Without much effort, we can estimate how much others know, determine how valuable knowledge is, and efficiently transmit and obtain it ourselves. I study the way children think about knowledge and information to better understand where these intuitions come from and what underlies them.

Lab Affiliates

Juan Miguel Arias

Stanford Graduate School of Education

website | jmarias [at]

I am a doctoral candidate at the Stanford Graduate School of Education, working with Bruce McCandliss' Educational Neuroscience Lab and with Amado Padilla on community-action cultural-psychological research. I study how students develop pedagogical identities and skills, and how teaching behaviors are jointly influenced by social perspective-taking skills and socially-mediated expectations of the purposes and methods of teaching.

Research Assistants

Megan Merrick

mmerrick [at]

I graduated with a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies (Cognitive Development & Society) from UC Berkeley in 2018, during which I served as research assistant in the Language and Cognitive Development Lab. I enjoy studying language acquisition and social learning but am also fascinated with educational psychology. My honors thesis focused on how young elementary school children judge their peers based on academic intelligence. I plan on pursuing a PhD in educational psychology in the near future.

Xi Jia Zhou

lauraxijia [at]

I’m a senior Minerva student concentrating in cognitive neuroscience and data science. Currently, I’m working in a project developing a novel tool to capture children’s behaviors. I’m particularly interested in human’s learning mechanisms, and I’m excited to see how we can build intelligent machines from understanding babies’ learnings. One day I hope that both the cognitive theories and AIs can be applied to help underprivileged children to learn better.

Past Graduate Students and Postdocs

Past Research Assistants & Lab Managers

  • Grace Bennett-Pierre (Was: Lab Manager '16-'19) - PhD student in Psychology, Temple University
  • Isabelle Morris (Was: Honors Student '19)
  • Sajjad Torabian (Was: Research Assistant)
  • Angelina Garron (Was: Research Assistant)
  • - Student in UC Berkeley Post-Baccalaureate Health Professions Program
  • Huda Akef (Was: Research Assistant) – PhD student in Human Development and Family Studies Dept., University of Connecticut
  • Sumudu Rathnayake (Was: Research Assistant) – Behavioral Therapist in Los Angeles, CA
  • Chelsey Pan (Was: Honors Student '18) – Lab Manager, Sokol-Hessner Lab, University of Denver
  • James Daly (Was: Honors Student '17) – Lab Manager, Bauer Lab, Emory University
  • Griffin Dietz (Was: Honors Student '17) – PhD student in Computer Science Dept., Stanford University
  • David Altman (Was: Research Assistant) - Medical student, Stanford University
  • Brett Anderson (Was: Research Assistant)
  • - MA student in Social Welfare (UCLA) & Gerontology (USC)
  • Valentina Ruiz-Jiménez (Was: Research Assistant)
  • Katelynn Ellam (Was: Research Assistant)
  • Ron Anderson (Was: Research Assistant)
  • Alyssa Lombardo (Was: Research Assistant)
  • Andrew McCabe (Was: Research Assistant)
  • Emily Tang (Was: Research Assistant) – Associate Product Manager Intern, LinkedIn
  • Mika Asaba (Was: Lab Manager '14-'16) - PhD student in Psychology, Stanford University

Past Summer Interns

  • Ginnie Kim (Was: Summer Intern 2018)
  • Anne Roche (Was: Summer Intern 2018)
  • DivineAsia Miller(Was: Summer Intern 2018)
  • May Tran (Was: Summer Intern 2018)
  • Emily Cang(Was: Summer Intern 2018)
  • Isabel Nichoson(Was: Summer Intern 2018)
  • Rhonda Sandifer(Was: Summer Intern 2018)
  • Anutra Guru(Was: Summer Intern 2018)
  • Yena Kim (Was: Summer Intern 2017)
  • Alicia Leong (Was: Summer Intern 2017)
  • Natalie Wu (Was: Summer Intern 2017)
  • Maya Jones (Was: Summer Intern 2017)
  • Robert Henderson (Was: Summer Intern 2017)