For Parents

When kids participate in research with the Causality and Mind Lab, they will play games with us that are designed both to be a lot of fun, and help further scientific research! Below, you can read more about each of the active research games our team runs in our lab at Brown University, or online over Zoom. To sign up to participate in one or more of the studies below, you can contact us at or 401-863-3527. You can also register for our participant database here

When you sign up for a visit to our lab, you can expect to join us for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour to play a series of the games described below. You are welcome to be with your child the whole time. After, your child will receive a small toy for taking part.


Active Studies

Little Kids, Big Questions

A Brown University Research Study 

In this study, we want to know more about how young children reflect on the decisions they make, and the actions they take, in their everyday lives. We will introduce your child to a series of scenarios and ask them a few questions. There are no right or wrong answers to our questions–your child will be the star of the interview! This study takes approximately 5-10 minutes.


Exploring ‘The Adventures of Jessie, the Light Engineer’

A Brown University Research Study 

This study involves storybook reading and playful tasks designed to engage your child’s imagination and problem-solving skills. Your child will have the opportunity to listen to an imaginative story about a character who overcomes challenges through perseverance and creativity. After the story, your child will be invited to participate in a fun activity that involves matching pictures related to the story’s content and a small paper survey about their feelings. This study takes about 10 minutes.


Who Would You Praise?

A Brown University Research Study 

In this study, we are interested in learning how children think about fairness and social reciprocity. Children will be guided through two stories about sharing and asked what one of the characters should do at the end of each story. This study only takes about 5 minutes.



The STEM Engine! 

A Brown University Research Study 

This study explores whether an at-home parent-child STEM activity can facilitate children’s interest in a scientific topic. In addition to engaging in a STEM activity together, an experimenter will play some online games with your child (including a train game!), and ask them some questions. We are piloting (i.e., testing out) a subset of the tasks in this study, so the session will take around 20-30 minutes and families will receive a $5 (USD) Amazon gift card for taking part.  


Recently Completed Studies


Parent FAQ

What do we study?

We study the way that children come to learn about and represent important aspects of the world, from how things work (causality) to how other people think and talk (the mind). This research has many applications, from school curriculum design to understanding atypical development.

What can I expect?

When kids come into the lab, they will play games with us that are designed both to be a lot of fun, and help further scientific research. Kids usually have a lot of fun (we do too!). The whole session takes somewhere between 45 minutes to an hour, and it’s here in our lab. You are welcome to be with your child the whole time.

We are now offering remote testing opportunities. This work would be done in your home over Zoom. Not all of our studies are being done remotely. It depends on the age of your child and the time of year.

Who can participate?

Right now, we are running experiments with children between the ages of 3-10, but in the past we have run experiments with children as young as 5 months old. If you are the parent or guardian of a child and you would like to volunteer to participate in one of our studies, you can click here to sign up your childemail us or call us at 401-863-3527. 

We also run experiments at Providence Children’s Museum in the Mind Lab program. We are usually at the museum on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings and Friday afternoons. We also conduct research in the exhibits themselves (times variable). You can visit us there (no appointments are necessary). We are also at the Roger Williams Zoo, where you can find us on the weekends.

What kind of games do we play?

Many of the games we play are designed to examine what children know about causality. For example, we often show children a box that lights up and plays music when certain objects are put on it, and we ask children questions about the objects. We also ask children questions about cause and effect, as well as examine what children know about science.

Many of the other games we play involve stories. We tell children stories and ask them questions about what the characters are thinking or feeling. We also study how children understand pretending, learning, and other mental states by telling them stories and asking them questions about those stories.

We’ve recently started playing some games in our lab that involve tracing children’s finger movements in space (which help us learn aspects of how their brains work). Children play touchscreen games we have designed about what other characters are thinking or feeling, or play games where they make decisions about the mental states of other people. 

Finally, other games that we play look at children’s understanding of fairness and sharing, children’s curiosity and reasoning, and how children learn from what other people say and do.

Click here to sign up your child to participate!