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Lab Members

Alex Shaw, Ph.D.

DIBS Lab Principal Investigator, Professor of Psychology

Broadly, Alex is interested in how human beings navigate the complex social world by tracking each others’ reputations and by signaling to others. More specifically, he studies the development of fairness in children. His fairness research is focused on differentiating fairness from other forms of niceness, exploring the reputational motives that may underlie fairness, and how fairness may relate to our alliance psychology. He also researches intellectual property in children and is investigating whether part of our concern with people stealing ideas is based in not liking others garnering a false reputational advantage. He is also interested in the computations people perform to decide how and when to fight over resources, track others’ reputations, and learn to properly discount others’ self-promotional strategies.



Faculty Page


Isabella Ramkissoon

Lab Manager

Isabella is a current fourth year at the University of Chicago majoring in Psychology and minoring in Religious Studies. She oversees the lab’s research projects and facilitates the work of our graduate and undergraduate researchers. Within the CECR, she unites the Development of Social Cognition (DSC) Lab and the Developmental Investigations of Behavior and Strategy (DIBS) Lab led by Professor Alex Shaw. She is interested in studying how children develop early sociopolitical worldviews and how children reason about wealth inequality.


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Molly C. Gibian, M.A.

Senior Research Associate

Molly advises for the lab’s research agenda, integrates systemic project management, writes regulatory documents and provides organizational guidance. She has over 10 years of research experience in developmental psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and education from her roles at M.I.T., Harvard Medical School, Cornell University, the University of Chicago and Stanford University. Her interests focus on societal/cultural influences on learning cognition, education environments, leadership and social language.


Graduate Students

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Ben Morris

Ph.D. Student

Ben is a PhD student working with Alex Shaw. Broadly, Ben is interested in how children rely on and exploit social reasoning in conversational contexts. To become smooth conversationalists, young children must extract social information from language to understand and learn about people, and also recruit social information to understand and learn language. In much of my work, I explore how children infer social meaning not from what someone says, but from how (and especially how quickly) they say it. 


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Mitchell Landers

Ph.D. Student

Mitchell received his B.A. in philosophy from UC Berkeley. As a post-baccalaureate, he received training in evolutionary psychology from Leda Cosmides, John Tooby, and Steve Gaulin at UCSB. Mitchell is currently interested in friendship, cooperation, and alliance formation, the function of social emotions, and how to reconcile personality and other individual differences with our evolved, universal human nature.



Katie Vasquez

Ph.D. Student

Katie is a PhD student working with Alex Shaw. She graduated from Wesleyan University in 2020 with a high honors in Psychology. After graduating, Katie worked as Yarrow Dunham’s and Paul Bloom’s laboratory manager at the Yale University Social Cognitive Development and Mind and Development Labs. Katie broadly researches children's social and moral development, including children's moral intuitions and how children behave in socio-moral dilemmas. In the DIBS Lab, Katie plans to focus on how children think about and engage in social strategies, such as reputation management.



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Alex Mackiel

Ph.D. Student

Alex is a PhD student with Alex Shaw and Amanda Woodward. In general, Alex studies social and moral cognition from infancy to adulthood. He is especially interested in how people in varying stages of development perceive, understand, and reason about different types of social relationships and the norms, expectations, and obligations that they entail.


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Erin Kim

Ph.D. Student

Erin is a PhD student working with Alex Shaw. She completed her undergraduate education at Vanderbilt University, where she also worked as a part-time undergraduate research coordinator for the Early Development Lab with Georgene Troseth. Erin then went on to work for Wesleyan University as a lab coordinator for Hilary Barth's Cognitive Development Lab. As a graduate student, she is excited to explore how children draw inferences and form concepts about the social world through implicit cues in their environment. She is particularly interested in how children think about secret-sharing interactions.


Research Assistants

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Bentzion Fiorino

Research Assistant with Alex Mackiel

Bentzion is a third-year psychology major at the college. He is interested in studying cognitive and behavioral psychology, particularly focusing on decision-making, memory, judgments, and cognitive biases. Previously, he worked in a decision-making lab focused on bilingualism. Bentzion is thrilled at the opportunity to study social judgments with children and gain a glimpse into the innate judgments that they form through social interactions.


Adina Ziv

Research Assistant with Alex Mackiel and Ben Morris

Adina is a fourth-year Psychology major at the college. Although this is her first time conducting psychological research, Adina is deeply interested in developmental psychology, particularly in understanding gender differences and how gender stereotypes develop. Her research interests also include the interplay between morality and religion, as well as the dynamics of social relationships. Adina is eager to explore how these factors influence cognitive and emotional growth throughout an individual's life. She is excited to contribute to the understanding of how developmental processes impact mental health and overall well-being.


Gabriel Hui

Research Assistant with Mitchell Landers

Gabriel is a first year majoring in Psychology and Cognitive Science. Although new to psychological research, Gabriel is interested in developmental psychology, especially the link between children’s behaviors and their effects on adulthood. He is excited to learn more about how mapping specialized mental mechanisms play a crucial role in shaping our ability to think, feel, interact, and behave throughout adulthood.

Lab Alumni

Hannah Hok (Kim)

In DIBS Lab: Graduate Student (Ph.D., 2023)

Post DIBS Lab: UX Research at Amtrak's Innovation Team | Research Fellow at AR/VR Studio, Harvard Innovation Labs. 

Anam Barakzai, Ph.D.

In DIBS Lab: Graduate Student (Ph.D., 2019)

Post DIBS Lab: Working at Google in UX

Jessica Bregant, J.D., Ph.D.

In DIBS Lab: Graduate Student (Ph.D., 2018)

Post DIBS Lab: Assistant Professor Houston Law Center

Zoe Liberman, Ph.D.

In DIBS Lab: Graduate Student (Ph.D., 2016)

Post DIBS Lab: Associate Professor, UCSB

Ike Silver. Ph. D
In DIBS Lab: Research Assistant

Post DIBS Lab: Assistant Professor of Marketing, Northwestern

Emily Gerdin

In DIBS Lab:  Lab Manager 

Post DIBS Lab: Ph.D. Student, Yale University, Psychology

Kayla Good

In DIBS Lab: Lab Manager

Post DIBS Lab: Ph.D. Student at Stanford University

Zachariah Berry, M.A.

In DIBS Lab: Was a MAPSS Student 

Post DIBS Lab: Ph.D. Student at Cornell University, Marketing

Sean Zheng, M.A

In DIBS Lab: Research Assistant and MAPSS student

Post DIBS Lab: Ph.D. Student, Northwestern University, Psychology

Sophie Arnold

In DIBS Lab: Research Assistant

Post DIBS Lab: Ph. D. Student, New York University. 

Abbie Klein

In DIBS Lab: Research Assistant

Post DIBS Lab: Ph.D. Student, UW Madison

James Dunlea
In DIBS Lab: Research Assistant

Post DIBS Lab: Ph.D. Student at Columbia University, Psychology

Emory Kim

In DIBS Lab: Research Assistant/Junior Lab Manager

Post DIBS Lab: Lab Manager for Franklin Huang Lab, UCSF

Gemma Smith

In DIBS Lab: Lab Manager

Post DIBS Lab: Fulbright Scholar; English Teaching Assistantship in Argentina

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