I run the Cognitive Development (CoDe) Lab at California State University East Bay. We study how humans reason about complex systems, across development.
One line of my research examines how people reason about interactive relationships, or associations that depend on the state of background variables. Grasping the interactive nature of many associations is key to science learning and social functioning. I study how acknowledging instability, or lack of robustness of causal and categorical relationships across background circumstances affects learning, inductive inference, language, and decision-making.
Another line of my work examines how people reason about agents embedded in complex social structures that constrain or facilitate agents’ behaviors, depending on their position within the structure. I study how reasoning about social structures develops, how different cognitive mechanisms contribute to it, what behavioral consequences it has, how language both shapes and reflects it, and finally, how understanding of social structures influences people's intuitions about social justice.
I am an Assistant Professor at the Psychology Department at at California State University East Bay.
I am excited to collaborate with Dr. Kate Ritchie (UC Irvine Philosophy) on an interdisciplinary and inter-institutional research and mentorship project "Generics in context: Examining mental biases and resources in social and science communication and learning", funded by NSF (total $1,004,003).
Additionally, I am running developmental research projects as a visiting researcher at UC Berkeley in collaboration with Dr. Alison Gopnik (Cognitive Development Lab) and Dr. Mahesh Srinivasan (Language and Cognitive Development Lab). I also continue collaborating with my postdoctoral mentors Dr. Tania Lombrozo (Princeton) and Dr. Clark Barrett (UCLA) on a range of topics, from early representations of unstable causal systems to the consequences of engaging in structural explanation for reasoning about socioeconomic inequalities.
I used to publish under the name of Nadya Vasilyeva.
[preferred pronouns: they/them; okay with she/her]