©2019 by Nicole J. Wen. All rights reserved.

 

NICOLE J. WEN

Ph.D. | Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Department of Psychology | University of Michigan

I am a developmental psychologist studying the ontogeny of social learning strategies and cooperative behaviors within and across cultures.

ABOUT

I am currently a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan. In Dr. Felix Warneken’s Social Minds Lab, I study the development of social cognition and the role of cultural conventions in children’s cooperation.  

I received my Ph.D. in Psychology and portfolio in Applied Statistical Modeling from the University of Texas at Austin in 2018. In Dr. Cristine Legare’s  Evolution, Variation and Ontogeny of Learning Laboratory, my research explored how children identify and acquire cultural conventions to affiliate with social groups. I also examined how children flexibly use imitation and innovation for cultural learning and how this is socialized in both the U.S. and Vanuatu. I graduated from UT Austin with a B.S. in Psychology, a B.A. in Plan II Honors, and a minor in History in 2013. I also received my M.A. in Psychology from UT Austin in 2015. 

I received the 2017 APF Elizabeth M. Koppitz Child Psychology Fellowship and the 2016 UT Austin University Graduate Continuing Fellowship to complete my dissertation work. 

I am a Museum Science Communication Fellow through the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History and work with the University of Michigan Living Lab to make science and research accessible to families in the community. 

 

RESEARCH

I study cognitive and social development from an interdisciplinary perspective using a variety of methods to examine how children learn within and across cultures. I have explored how children flexibly use imitation and innovation for cultural learning and how this is socialized in both the U.S. and Vanuatu. Recently, I examined how cultural conventions, such as rituals, facilitate social group cohesion through in-group affiliation, group displays, and group monitoring.

 

I am currently examining the role of cultural conventions in children’s cooperation. Specifically, I am exploring how rituals may influence children’s cooperative behaviors toward in- and out-group members, specifically looking at altruistic motivations and fairness norms. I will examine the relationship between ritual and resource sharing, helping behaviors, third-party punishment, and inequity aversion. I propose that humans are psychologically prepared to engage in ritual as a means of in-group cohesion.

 

PUBLICATIONS

+Undergraduate student advisee

PEER-REVIEWED JOURNAL ARTICLES

1. . Wen, N. J., Clegg, J. M., & Legare, C. H. (2019). Smart conformists: Children and adolescents associate conformity with intelligence early across cultures. Child Development, 90(3) 746-758. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12935 (PDF)

2. Legare, C. H., Clegg, J. M., & Wen, N. J. (2018). Evolutionary developmental psychology: 2017 redux. Child Development, 89(6), 2282-2287. doi: 10.1111/cdev.13021 (PDF)

3. Clegg, J. M., Wen, N. J., & Legare, C. H. (2017). Intelligence is in the eye of the beholder: Cultural variation in adults’ beliefs about children’s conformity and competency. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 146(3), 428-441. doi: 10.1037/xge0000275 (PDF)
 

4. Wen, N. J., Herrmann, P. A. & Legare, C. H. (2016). Ritual increases children’s affiliation with in-group members. Evolution and Human Behavior, 37(1) 54-60. doi:10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2015.08.002 (PDF)

5. Legare, C. H., Wen, N. J., Herrmann, P. A., & Whitehouse, H. (2015). Imitative flexibility and the development of cultural learning. Cognition, 142, 351-361. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2015.05.020 (PDF)

NON-PEER REVIEWED PUBLICATIONS 

1. Watson-Jones, R. E., Wen, N. J., & Legare, C. H. (2017, in press). The psychological foundations of ritual learning. In M. Gelfand, C. Chiu and Y. Hong (Eds). Advances in culture and psychology. Oxford University Press.

 

2. Legare, C. H., Wen, N. J., & Watson-Jones, R. E. (2016). Ritual. In M. H. Bornstein (Ed.), The SAGE encyclopedia of lifespan human development. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. (PDF)

 

3. Legare, C. H., & Wen, N. J. (2014). The effects of ritual on social group cognition. The International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development Bulletin, 66(2), 9-12. (PDF)

 

PEER-REVIEWED JOURNAL ARTICLES UNDER REVIEW 

1. Wen, N. J., Willard, A. K., +Caughy, M., & Legare, C. H. (under review). Watch me, watch you: Ritual participation increases in-group displays and out-group monitoring in children.

 

2. Clegg, J. M., Wen, N. J., +Hartman, P. E., +Alcott, A., +Keltner, E., & Legare, C. H. (resubmitted). Learning through instruction versus observation: Cultural variation in maternal teaching beliefs and behavior.

​MANUSCRIPTS IN PREPARATION

 

1. Wen, N. J., Clegg, J. M., +Estrera, S. E., & Legare, C. H. (in prep). Between- and within-population variation in beliefs about children’s competency and conformity.

2. Wen, N. J., Watson-Jones, R. E., Gelman, S.A., & Legare, C. H. (in prep). The effect of ritual on instrumental tool use.

3. Clegg, J. M., Wen, N. J., +Cicardo, C. G., +Jacome, A. P., & Legare, C. H. (in prep). Cultural variation in first- versus third-party attention and imitation.

CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS & SYMPOSIA

 

Symposia Organized

 

1. Wen, N. J.* & Watson-Jones, R. E.* (2016, July). The ontogeny of social group cognition. The Annual Meeting of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society (HBES), Vancouver, BC, Canada.

*Co-Organizers

 

Paper Presentations

 

1. Wen, N. J., Willard, A., +Caughy, M., & Legare, C. H. (2019, June). Ritual participation increases in-group affiliation, in-group displays and out-group monitoring in children. Paper accepted at the 18th International Conference on Social Dilemmas (ICSD), Sedona, AZ.

 

2. Wen, N. J., Clegg, J. M., +Estrera, S., Legare, C. H. (2019, April). Between- and within-population variation in beliefs about children’s competency and conformity. Paper accepted at the annual meeting of the European Human Behavior and Evolution Association (EHBEA), Toulouse, France.

 

3. Wen, N. J., Willard, A., +Caughy, M., & Legare, C. H. (2019, March). The essence of social groups: Ritual increases children’s affiliation with in-group members. Paper presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD), Baltimore, MD.

 

4. Wen, N. J., Clegg, J. M., +Estrera, S., Legare, C. H. (2019, March). Between- and within-population variation in beliefs about children’s competency and conformity. Paper presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD), Baltimore, MD.

 

5. Clegg, J. M., Wen, N. J., +Hartman, P., +Alcott, A., +Keltner, E., & Legare, C. H. (2019, March). Modeling collaboration versus independence: Cultural variation in caregiver teaching beliefs and behavior. Paper presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD), Baltimore, MD.

 

6. Wen, N. J., Clegg, J. M., +Estrera, S.E., & Legare, C. H. (2018, October). Between- and within-population variation in beliefs about children’s competency and conformity. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Cultural Evolution Society (CES), Tempe, AZ.

 

7. Clegg, J. M., Wen, N. J., Legare, C. H., DiYanni, C.J., & Corriveau, K.H. (2018, October). Cross-cultural evidence for the role of socialization in children's conformity. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Cultural Evolution Society (CES), Tempe, AZ.

 

8. Clegg, J. M., Wen, N. J., & Legare, C. H. (2017, October). Examining the role of conformity in children’s flexible imitation: Children’s imitation of instrumental and conventional tasks in the U.S. and Vanuatu. Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Cognitive Development Society (CDS), Portland, OR.

 

9. Wen, N. J., & Legare C. H. (2017, September). Ritual increases children’s affiliation with in-group members. Paper presented at the Inaugural Meeting of the Cultural Evolution Society (CES), Jena, Thuringia, Germany.

 

10. Wen, N. J., Clegg, J. M., & Legare, C. H. (2017, April). Intelligence is in the eye of the beholder: Cultural variation in adults’ beliefs about children’s competency and conformity. Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD), Austin, TX.

 

11. Wen, N. J., & Legare C. H. (2016, July). Ritual increases children’s affiliation with in-group members. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society (HBES), Vancouver, BC, Canada.
*Finalist for the New Investigator Competition.

 

12. Legare, C. H., & Wen, N. J. (2015, March). The effects of ritual on the development of social group cognition. Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD), Philadelphia, PA.

 

13. Clegg, J. M., Wen, N. J., +Hartman, P., +Alcott, A., & Legare, C. H. (2015, March). Putting the pieces together: A cross-cultural examination of caregiver-child interaction during a problem-solving task. Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD), Philadelphia, PA.

 

14. Legare, C. H., & Wen, N. J. (2014, October). Rituals increase children’s affiliation with in-group members. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Experimental Social Psychology (SESP), Columbus, Ohio.

 

15. Legare, C. H., Herrmann, P. A., Wen, N. J., & Cullum, K. A. (2013, April). Stick to the script: Young children expect imitative rigidity in ritual learning. Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD), Seattle, WA.


Poster Presentations

 

1. Wen, N. J., & Warneken, F.A. (2019, October). Children's expectations for ritual performance and cooperation. Poster presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Cognitive Development Society (CDS), Louisville, KY. (PDF)

 

2. Wen, N. J., Willard, A., +Caughy, M., & Legare, C. H. (2019, October). The impact of ritual on children's social group behavior. Poster presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Cognitive Development Society (CDS), Louisville, KY. (PDF)

 

3. Wen, N. J., Watson-Jones, R. E., +Do, Q. A., +Nguyen, A. H., Gelman, S. A., & Legare, C. H. (2017, October). The effect of in-group rituals on the perceived instrumental function of tools. Poster presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Cognitive Development Society (CDS), Portland, OR.

 

4. Wen, N. J., Watson-Jones, R. E., +Cardenas, C. M., Legare, C. H., & Gelman, S. A. (2016, June). The effect of ritual on instrumental tool use. Poster presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology (SPP), Austin, TX.

 

5. Clegg, J. M., Wen, N. J., & Legare, C. H. (2016, June). Intelligence is in the eye of the beholder: Cultural variation in adults’ beliefs about children’s competency and conformity. Poster presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology (SPP), Austin, TX.

 

6. Wen, N. J., Clegg, J. M., +Tsao, A., & Legare, C. H. (2015, May). Developmental differences in expectations for children’s conformity in a Non-Western population. Poster presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Psychological Science (APS), New York, NY.

 

7. Clegg, J. M., Wen, N. J., Legare, C. H., +Hartman, P., & +Alcott, A. (2015, May). A cross-cultural examination of caregiver-child interaction during a problem-solving task. Poster presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Psychological Science (APS), New York, NY.

 

8. Wen, N. J., Clegg, J. M., +Tsao, A., & Legare, C. H. (2015, March). Developmental differences in expectations for children’s conformity in a Non-Western population. Poster presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD), Philadelphia, PA.

 

9. +Hartman, P. E., Clegg, J. M., Wen, N. J., & Legare, C. H. (2014, March). Putting the pieces together: A cross-cultural examination of caregiver-child interaction during a problem-

solving task. Poster presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Human Development (SRHD), Austin, TX.

 

10. Wen, N. J., Herrmann, P. A., & Legare, C. H. (2013, October). Do like I do, be like I am: Rituals foster group cohesion in early childhood. Poster presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Cognitive Development Society (CDS), Memphis, TN.

 

11. Legare, C. H., Whitehouse, H., Wen, N. J., & Segraves, J. (2011, October). The cognitive developmental underpinnings of ritual. Poster presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Cognitive Development Society (CDS), Philadelphia, PA.

 

FIELDWORK

Tanna, Vanuatu

To examine the cognitive developmental foundations of cultural learning, I have conducted research in educational settings and home environments in both the United States (Austin, Texas) and Vanuatu (Tanna). Vanuatu, a Melanesian island nation in the South Pacific, is one of the most remote, culturally and linguistically diverse, and understudied countries in the world. We conducted our research with the residents of the villages of Lenakel and Isingel on the island of Tanna, the most highly populated island in the Tafea Province. Vanuatu provides a unique opportunity to explore the development of cultural learning in communities with limited exposed to Western education and influence.

 

CV

Click below to download the most recent version of my CV.

 

TEACHING & MENTORSHIP

As an interdisciplinary cognitive developmental scientist and educator, I have three primary pedagogical goals: (1) to facilitate the development of critical thinking skills, (2) to foster an understanding of how basic research can be applied in social and educational policy and practice, and (3) to promote understanding of the diversity of human experience. These goals work in concert to provide students with essential knowledge and skills that can be applied to any profession they choose to pursue. I have received the 2016 UT Austin Psychology Department Janet T. Spence Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award, the 2017 UT Austin IE Program JoyLynn Hailey Reed Graduate Mentorship Award, and hold an Inclusive Classrooms Leadership Certificate from UT Austin’s Division of Diversity and Community Engagement.

 

LAB INSTRUCTOR & TEACHING ASSISTANT

I was a lab instructor and teaching assistant in the Psychology Department at the University of Texas at Austin. Please feel free to contact me for a summary of my teaching evaluations, teaching statement, and sample syllabus.

HONORS THESIS ADVISOR

I have supervised multiple talented honors thesis students through the Psychology Departmental Honors Program at the University of Texas at Austin.

RESEARCH SUPERVISOR

I have trained teams of research assistants in the Social Minds Lab (Psychology Department, University of Michigan), the Evolution, Variation, and Ontogeny of Learning Lab (Psychology Department, UT Austin) and through the Research and Field Experience Internship Program (Psychology Department, St. Edward’s University). I have also mentored interns through the Michigan Summer Program in Cognition and Early Development (Psychology Department, University of Michigan), which trains students in developmental psychological research. I also have mentored through the Intellectual Entrepreneurship Pre-Graduate School Internship Program (Moody College of Communication, UT Austin), which connects undergraduates with graduate students to explore the unique aspects of graduate study that make it distinct from the undergraduate experience. Additionally, I have mentored interns through the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience Program (Psychology Department, UT Austin), which provides hands-on training to undergraduate students (from traditionally underrepresented groups) planning to apply to doctoral training programs.

COURSES TAUGHT

  • Statistics and Research Design (Spring 2016, taught 2 courses simultaneously)

  • Honors Thesis Research II (Fall 2015)

  • Honors Thesis Research I (Spring 2015)

 

HONORS THESIS STUDENTS ADVISED

STEPHANIE ESTRERA

2017-2018
The University of Texas at Austin

"Variation in U.S. adults’ perceptions of children’s intelligence"

MICHAELA CAUGHY

2016-2017
The University of Texas at Austin

"The relationship between ritual-play and group affiliation mediated by self-regulation"

MCKENZIE RATCLIFFE

2014-2015
The University of Texas at Austin

"Ritual’s effect on instrumental tool use"

 

INTERNS & RAS TRAINED

MSPICED PROGRAM, The University of Texas at Austin 

  • 2019: Anna Groffsky
     

IE PROGRAM, The University of Texas at Austin

  • 2017-2018: Felicia Calo, Jensen Edwards, Hong (Anh) Nguyen, Keonnie Parilla (Kuhn Scholar)

  • 2016-2017: Mahera Badat (Kuhn Scholar), Michaela Caughy, Quyen (Sally) Do, Stephanie Estrera, Ana Jacome, Yasmeen Nofal 

  • 2015-2016: Shama Momin (Kuhn Scholar), Anisa Nabily, Isabella Prines, Michelle Ross, Debbie Yeh

  • 2014-2015: Stephanie Gonzalez, McKenzie Ratcliffe, Holly Weir

 

SURE PROGRAM, The University of Texas at Austin

  • 2017: Atira Hinton  

  • 2016: Angelica Langdon

  • 2015: Evelyn Mendoza

  • 2014: Victoria Vento

 

RAS TRAINED, The University of Texas at Austin

  • 2017-2018: Felicia Calo, Jensen Edwards, Keyun Li, Keonnie Parilla

  • 2016-2017: Michaela Caughy, Stephanie Estrera, Hong (Anh) Nguyen, Yasmeen Nofal

  • 2015-2016: Mahera Badat, Quyen (Sally) Do, Eunice Iyalho, Shirley Li

  • 2014-2015: Leah Duran, Shama Momin, Anisa Nabily, McKenzie Ratcliffe

  • 2013-2014: Adam Alcott, Niki Akhaiveissy, Andrea Arguetta, Joseph Barron, Stephanie Gonzalez, Cintia Hinojosa, Dorothy Pang, Isabella Prines, Michelle Ross, Allison Tsao, Monica Vela, Holly Weir, Debbie Yeh

  • 2011-2013: Christine Chevis, Brittani Cobb, Katherine Cullum, Monica Demkowicz, Claudia Garate, Lauren Gragg, Paige Hartman, Eric Harvey, Anna Johnson, Abby Lavine, Riley Little, Sarah Mohkamkar, Rebecca Nekolaichuk, Ariana Stern-Luna, Lukas Thompson, Maya Zein
     

RESEARCH & FIELD EXPERIENCE INTERNSHIP PROGRAM, St. Edward’s University

  • 2014-2015: Carmen Cardenas

  • 2012-2013: Adrienne Fowler

  • 2011-2012: Lacey Hutchison, Michelle Jorgenson, Tiffany Roshanian

 
 
 

PRESS

-New Statesman

"What Pancake Day and the royal wedding have in common"


 

February 13, 2018

-The Conversation

"An anthropologist explains why we love holiday rituals and traditions"

December 12, 2017

-East Bay Times

Opinion: "In education, what we say we want isn’t what is taught"

September 15, 2017

-Texas Liberal Arts News

"Conformity is not a universal indicator of intelligence in children, study says"

March 9, 2017

-Futurity

"Little kids choose to imitate or mix it up" 

July 28, 2015

-Neuroscience News

"Selective imitation makes for precocious social learners"​

July 27, 2015

July 27, 2015

"Selective imitation shows children are flexible social learners, study finds"

-PsyPost

LET’S CONNECT

University of Michigan
Department of Psychology
1004 East Hall
530 Church St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1043