Research Assistant: Social Cognition in Infants and Young ChildrenSummer Course

DIS Summer - Research Assistant - Social Cognition in Infants and Young Children
Major Discipline(s)
Child Development, Human Development, Neuroscience
Location: Stockholm
Lab & Research Session

At the Child and Babylab (Barn och Babylab) at Uppsala University, Joshua Juvrud uses novel and state-of-the-art techniques in research (eye-tracking, pupil dilation, EEG, motion capture) to assess how children perceive and interpret people, emotions, and actions. In developmental psychology, this is key to understanding how children learn about their world. As a research assistant at the Child and Babylab, you would take part in studies with infants and children exploring their social and cognitive development using unique experimental designs. This may include:

  1. Infant studies. With infants, we cannot simply ask questions or give them instructions. Instead, we use creative and unique experimental designs along with eye-tracking technology to try to understand what they are thinking and how they learn about the world. Using eye-tracking, we explore how infants categorize people and things, how infants learn to perceive, encode, and interpret other peoples’ actions as meaningful, and how environmental contexts (such as maternal depression) can impact these developmental processes.
  2. Young children studies. Young children know a great deal about causality and their causal knowledge changes with age. We explore how causal knowledge is represented, and more significantly, how it is learned. Using a digital platform developed in the lab, we have the ability to create custom digital experiments as ‘games’ that children play. By incorporating research questions into the design of these custom games, and with that the resulting data from eye-tracking and children’s behavior, we can answer important questions about how children learn goals, associations, causality, and other principles that are important for cognitive and social development.

Research Assistantship Hours

You will spend 180 hours directly engaged in research, together with 20 hours in co-curricular activities, during your RAship. You will arrange a schedule with your mentor which will allow you to complete per week an average of 22 hours of lab-work, 10 theoretical hours of reading and writing, and 3 hours on Swedish culture and language to complement your research and provide context for your time abroad (35 hours in total per week). The research will take place at Uppsala University, ranked one of the top universities in the world, in the city of Uppsala. As a guest student at Uppsala University, you will have the unique opportunity to engage in student life in Uppsala, such as meeting and interacting with other students and attending student activities. Please note that approximately 8 hours per week will consist of commuting between Stockholm and Uppsala by train (2 hours back-and-forth total per day). Hours may also not be distributed evenly across weeks – there may be peak times in the research process where all Research Assistants are expected to spend a few more hours – and then possibly a few less another week – to reflect the individual research project and process. The total hours may vary, to some extent, according to research opportunity and expectations of your mentor.

Course Expectations 

In this course you will participate in the entire research process, from being involved with the study design, to writing up your findings. However, it is possible that the research project you will be working on is ongoing and some aspects of the research design have already been laid out for you. You will be expected to assist in the research design of an experiment to various degrees, and be responsible for data collection, analyses, and writing. By the end of the course you will have knowledge and experience in each step of the scientific process, as well as academic writing in the form of a complete manuscript. The majority of your work will be group work, working with your classmates and potentially lab members on specific research projects. Teamwork and communication skills are therefore essential. Although you are a research assistant, you will be expected to treat this course as an opportunity to learn what it means to be a primary researcher. This means you will be expected to organize your time with both supervised and independent hours of work, organize with your team members, meet deadlines, and to make decisions and to critically reflect on them.

Field Studies: Culture & Language

As a complement to your summer research, you will meet other research assistants every Wednesday, together with faculty from the DIS European Humanities program, for a 6-week introduction to culture and language in Stockholm. You will deepen your intercultural understanding through these weekly field studies focused on local culture and language. Humanities faculty from DIS will introduce you to various aspects of Swedish culture, provide you with the opportunity to learn some key terms in the language, and offer a chance to discuss the cultural experiences you are having while researching in Scandinavia. The field study-based culture and language component of the course is graded pass/fail and comprises 5% of your final research assistantship grade.


Joshua Juvrud

DIS Summer Faculty

Ph.D. in Psychology (Uppsala University). As a research psychologist, his work has focused on the ways that novel techniques in research (eye-tracking, pupil dilation, virtual reality) can be used to assess how children and adults perceive and interpret people, emotions, and actions. Josh focuses this research in two fields. In developmental psychology at the Child and Babylab in Uppsala, he seeks to understand how children learn about their world and the social cognitive development of face perception and socialization processes such as gender, race, and ethnicity. In games research at the Games & Society Lab at the Department of Game Design in Visby, Gotland, his work examines the psychology of people, their actions, and emotions in game development, player engagement, learning, and immersion to understand better how different game players (with different personalities, traits, and experiences) interact with various game mechanisms and are, in turn, affected by game experiences. With DIS since 2020.