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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


Gemma Smith

Lab Manager

Gemma oversees the lab’s research projects, develops strategic partnerships, coordinates off-site collaborations and facilitates the work of our graduate and undergraduate researchers. Within the CECR, she unites the DSC Lab and the Developmental Investigations of Behavior and Strategy (DIBS) Lab led by Professor Alex Shaw. She has done psychology research at Trinity University and University of Washington, and worked in the mental health field for several years. Broadly, she is interested in studying children’s early perceptions of disability, the development of empathy, and the role of language development in identity formation.


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Molly Gibian

Senior Research Associate

Molly advises the lab’s research agenda, integrates systemic project management, writes regulatory documents and provides organizational guidance for the lab and the Center for Early Childhood Research. She has worked in neuroscience and psychology research for Wellesley College, M.I.T., Harvard Medical School, Boston University and Cornell University. Her research interests focus on societal/cultural influences on learning cognition, leadership ambition, identity formation and the development of value systems. From 2021, Molly is pursuing a graduate degree at Stanford University while continuing to support the lab.


Graduate Students

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Hannah Hok

Ph.D. Student

Hannah is a PhD student working with Alex Shaw. Hannah broadly studies social and moral cognitive development and is interested in how children think about the fairness of using different procedures to navigate decision-making within groups. She has two primary research interests: Early thinking about the the values of political procedures such as majority rules voting and children’s understanding of hypocrisy and social signaling



Ben Morris

Ph.D. Student

Ben is a PhD student with Alex Shaw and Daniel Yurovsky. Broadly, Ben works on the interplay between language and social cognition across development. He is especially interested in emerging conceptions of knowledge and knowledge transmission, and in the language cues that drive children's inferences about knowledge.


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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.


Research Assistants

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Peter Yibo Pan

Research Assistant with Ben Morris

Peter was a former research assistant with the Communication and Learning Lab led by Dan Yurovsky and has transitioned to the DIBS lab to focus on projects involving child language acquisition, knowledge perceptions, and social language cognition.

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Xuanyi Zhang

Research Assistant with Katie Vasquez

Xuanyi is majoring in Psychology and Anthropology. He is broadly interested in social and moral development during childhood and adolescence. Specifically, he is curious about exploring the role of motivation and reputation in children’s developmental and learning outcomes and how understanding the psychological processes might help to design interventions in the education domain.

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Chika Okere

Research Assistant with Katie Vasquez

Chika is majoring in psychology on the pre-med track. Previously she worked primarily in clinical research, but was interested in the forming and process of social-development research in children. She is interested in how children are able to build an idea of themselves in relation to their social world, i.e., social hierarchy, social groups, and out-group stereotype/prejudice. She plans on attending graduate school and going on to pursue a medical degree with the hopes of practicing pediatrics, family medicine, or psychiatry.

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