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Caren Walker

Assistant Professor

My research explores how children learn and reason about the causal structure of the world. In particular, I am interested in how even very young learners are able to acquire abstract representations that extend beyond their observations, simply by thinking. How is “learning by thinking” possible? What does this phenomenon tell us about the nature of early mental representations and how they change? To begin to answer these questions, my work focuses on a suite of activities that impose top-down constraints on human inference (e.g., analogy, explanation, and engagement in imaginary worlds). I also explore the development of scientific thinking and reasoning, including children's understanding of uncertainty. My approach is interdisciplinary, combining perspectives in psychology, philosophy, education, and computational theory.

  • Walker, C.M. & Gopnik, A. (2017). Discriminating conceptual and perceptual judgements: Evidence from human toddlers. Cognition, 166, 23-27.
  • Walker, C.M., Bridgers, S.B., & Gopnik, A.  (2016). The early emergence and puzzling decline of relational reasoning: Effects of knowledge and search on inferring “same” and “different.” Cognition, 156, 30-40.
  • Walker, C.M., Lombrozo, T., Williams, J.J., Rafferty, A., & Gopnik, A. (2016). Explaining constrains causal learning in childhood. Child Development, 88(1): 229-246.
  • Walker, C.M. & Gopnik, A. (2014).  Toddlers infer higher-order relational principles in causal learning. Psychological Science, 25(1): 161-169.
  • Walker, C.M., Lombrozo, T., Legare, C.H., & Gopnik, A.  (2014).  Explaining prompts children to privilege inductively rich properties.  Cognition, 133, 343-357.
  • Walker, C.M. & Gopnik, A. (2013). Causality & Imagination. In Marjorie Taylor (Ed.), The development of imagination (pp. 342-358).  Oxford University Press: New York.


Updated April 2018