Cognitive Development Lab – Imagination & Scientific Reasoning


At the Cognition and Development Lab we study children’s and adult’s imaginative and scientific reasoning abilities.

The participants in these studies are children and adults from our community, including local schools and museums. Click here to find out how you can be involved.


Metz, S. E., Weisberg, D. S., & Weisberg, M. (in press). Non-scientific epistemic criteria sustain counter-scientific beliefs. Cognitive Science.

Weisberg, D. S., Landrum, A. R., Metz, S. E., & Weisberg, M. (in press). No missing link: Knowledge predicts acceptance of evolution in the United States. BioScience. (project registration)

Sobel, D. M., Erb, C. D., Tassin, T., & Weisberg, D. S. (in press). The development of diagnostic inference under uncertainty. Journal of Cognition and Development.

Weisberg, D. S. & Friend, S. (in press). Embracing non-fiction: How to extend the DISTANCING-EMBRACING model [Comment on Menninghaus et al. (in press)]. Behavioral and Brain Sciences.

Kibbe, M. M., Kreisky, M., & Weisberg, D. S. (in press). Young children distinguish between different unrealistic fictional genres. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts.

Panero, M. E., Weisberg, D. S., Black, J., Goldstein, T. R., Barnes, J. L., Brownell, H., & Winner, E. (2016). No support for the claim that literary fiction uniquely and immediately improves theory of mind: A reply to Kidd and Castano’s commentary on Panero, Weisberg, Black, Goldstein, Barnes, Brownell, & Winner (2016). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 112(3), e5-e8.

Hopkins, E. J. & Weisberg, D. S. (2017). The youngest readers’ dilemma: A review of children’s learning from fictional sources. Developmental Review, 43, 48-70.

Panero, M. E.*, Weisberg, D. S.*, Black, J.*, Goldstein, T. R., Barnes, J. L., Brownell, H., & Winner, E. (2016). Does reading a single passage of literary fiction really improve theory of mind? An attempt at replication. (* = joint first authors) Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 111(5), e46-e54.

Weisberg, D. S. (2016). How fictional worlds are created. Philosophy Compass, 11(8), 462-470.

Hopkins, E. J., Weisberg, D. S., & Taylor, J. C. V. (2016). The seductive allure is a reductive allure: People prefer scientific explanations that contain logically irrelevant reductive information. Cognition, 155(3), 67-76.

Weisberg, D. S.*, Hirsh-Pasek, K.*, Golinkoff, R. M., Kittredge, A. K., & Klahr, D. (2016). Guided play: Principles and practices. (* = joint first authors) Current Directions in Psychological Science, 25(3), 177-182.

Hopkins, E. J., Smith, E.D., Weisberg, D. S. & Lillard, A. S. (2016). The development of substitute object pretense: The differential importance of form and function. Journal of Cognition and Development, 17(2), 197-220.

Weisberg, D. S. & Gopnik, A. (2016). Which counterfactuals matter? A response to Beck. Cognitive Science, 41(1), 257-259.

Weisberg, D. S. (2016). Imagination and child development. In A. Kind (Ed.), Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Imagination (pp. 300-313). New York: Routledge.

Weisberg, D. S., Taylor, J. C. V., & Hopkins, E. J. (2015). Deconstructing the seductive allure of neuroscience explanations. Judgment and Decision Making, 10(2), 429-441.

Ridge, K. E., Weisberg, D. S., Ilgaz, H., Hirsh-Pasek, K., & Golinkoff, R. M. (2015). Supermarket speak: Increasing talk among low-socioeconomic status families. Mind, Brain, and Education, 9(3), 127-135.

Weisberg, D. S., Kittredge, A. K., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Golinkoff, R. M., & Klahr, D. (2015). Making play work for education. Phi Delta Kappan, 96(8), 8-13.

Weisberg, D. S. (2015). Advanced review: Pretend play. WIREs Cognitive Science, 6(3), 249-261.

Weisberg, D. S., Ilgaz, H., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Golinkoff, R. M., Nicolopoulou, A, & Dickinson, D. K. (2015). Shovels and swords: How realistic and fantastical themes affect children’s word learning. Cognitive Development, 35, 1-14.

Weisberg, D. S. (2014). The development of imaginative cognition. Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplements, 75, 85-103.

Sobel, D. M. & Weisberg, D. S. (2014). Tell me a story: How children’s developing domain knowledge affects their story construction. Journal of Cognition and Development, 15(3), 465-478.

Weisberg, D. S., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Golinkoff, R., & McCandliss, B. D. (2014). Mise en place: Setting the stage for thought and action. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 18(6), 276-278.

Weisberg, D. S., Zosh, J. M., Hirsh-Pasek, K., & Golinkoff, R. M. (2013). Talking it up: An analysis of the role of play in language development. American Journal of Play, 6(1), 39-54.

Weisberg, D. S. & Gopnik, A. (2013). Pretense, counterfactuals, and Bayesian causal models: Why what is not real really matters. Cognitive Science, 37(7), 1368-1381.

Weisberg, D. S., Sobel, D. M., Goodstein, J., & Bloom, P. (2013). Young children are reality-prone when thinking about stories. Journal of Cognition and Culture, 13(3-4), 383-407.

Weisberg, D. S. (2013). Distinguishing imagination from reality. In M. Taylor (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the Development of Imagination (pp. 75-93). New York: Oxford University Press.

Weisberg, D. S., Hirsh-Pasek, K., & Golinkoff, R. M. (2013). Guided play: Where curricular goals meet a playful pedagogy. Mind, Brain, and Education, 7(2), 104-112.

Weisberg, D. S., Hirsh-Pasek, K., & Golinkoff, R. M. (2013). Embracing complexity: Rethinking the relation between play and learning: Comment on Lillard et al. (2013).Psychological Bulletin, 139(1), 35-39.

Weisberg, D. S. & Leslie, A. M. (2012). The role of victims’ emotions in preschoolers’ moral judgments. Review of Philosophy and Psychology, 3(3), 439-455.

Buchsbaum, D., Bridgers, S., Weisberg, D. S., & Gopnik, A. (2012). The power of possibility: Causal learning, counterfactual reasoning, and pretend play. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 367, 2202-2212.

Weisberg, D. S. & Sobel, D. M. (2012). Young children discriminate improbable from impossible events in fiction. Cognitive Development, 27(1), 90-98.

Weisberg, D. S. & Bloom, P. (2009). Young children separate multiple pretend worlds.Developmental Science, 12(5), 699-705.

Weisberg, D. S. (2009). The vital importance of imagination. In M. Brockman (Ed.), What’s Next? Dispatches on the Future of Science (pp. 145-154). New York: Vintage Books.

Weisberg, D. S. & Goodstein, J. (2009). What belongs in a fictional world? Journal of Cognition and Culture, 9(1), 69-78.

Weisberg, D. S. (2008). Caveat lector: The presentation of neuroscience information in the popular media. The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice, 6(1), 51-56.

Weisberg, D. S., Keil, F. C., Goodstein, J., Rawson, E., & Gray, J. R. (2008). The seductive allure of neuroscience explanations. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 20(3), 470-477.
Full stimulus set available at SSRN.

Weisberg, D. S. & Bloom, P. (2007). Why do some people resist science? Science and Public Affairs. 22.

Bloom, P. & Weisberg, D. S. (2007). Childhood origins of adult resistance to science.Science, 316(5827), 996-997.

Skolnick, D. & Bloom, P. (2006). What does Batman think about SpongeBob? Children’s understanding of the fantasy/fantasy distinction. Cognition, 101(1), B9-B18.

Skolnick, D. & Bloom, P. (2006). The intuitive cosmology of fictional worlds. In S. Nichols (Ed.), The Architecture of the Imagination: New Essays on Pretense, Possibility, and Fiction (pp. 73-86). New York: Oxford University Press.