Chat Lab

Related Projects


The Social Understanding and Mental State project was a longitudinal study over 8 years, initiated by Ted Ruffman, and supported by the UK's ESRC, with Lance Slade, and Sue Sullivan as Research Fellows and Nicola Yuill heading data collection as the children reached middle childhood.  We made 7 home visits to about 80 families and observed the children from age 3 to age 11. We were interested in how mothers' conversations with their children might help children develop a 'theory of mind' - an understanding of other people's beliefs, desires and inner life. The project provided the first evidence that mothers' use of mental state language in the early years predicted children's social cognition years later. This effect was independent of mothers' general verbal skill and children's verbal ability, so it is a very specific effect: mothers' mental state talk in the early years has a close link to children's later social understanding.  


The Riddles project was a multidisciplinary project funded by the UK's EPSRC (2003-2006), drawing upon expertise in the fields of psychology (Nicola Yuill, Cindy Kerawalla and Amanda Harris), Human-Centred Technology (Rose Luckin) and computer science and linguistics (Darren Pearce). The overall aim of the Riddles project was to bring together ideas from all these fields to develop new software that could be used by pairs of children to improve their reading comprehension. The SCoSS paradigm (Kerawalla, L., Pearce, D., Yuill, N., Luckin, R., & Harris, A. 2008) was developed on the project as well as several educational applications.