Nicole J. Wen
Ph.D. | Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Psychology
Director of the Culture and Minds Lab
Centre for Culture and Evolution
Brunel University London
I am a developmental psychologist studying the ontogeny of social learning strategies and cooperative behaviors within and across cultures.
Click here for my CV.
I completed a postdoctoral fellowship from 2018-2020 in the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan. In Dr. Felix Warneken’s Social Minds Lab, I studied 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 with Departmental Honors, a B.A. in Plan II Honors with Departmental Honors, and a minor in History in 2013. I also received my M.A. in Psychology from UT Austin in 2015.
I received the 2022 Cultural Evolution Society New Investigator Award, 2017 APF Elizabeth M. Koppitz Child Psychology Fellowship and the 2016 UT Austin University Graduate Continuing Fellowship.
I was a Museum Science Communication Fellow through the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History and worked with the University of Michigan Living Lab to make science and research accessible to families in the community.
PROFESSIONAL SOCIETY AFFILIATIONS
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.
+Undergraduate student, ^Graduate Student, *Joint first-authorship
PEER-REVIEWED JOURNAL ARTICLES
1. Wen, N. J.*, Clegg, J. M.*, & Legare, C. H. (in press) Cooperative signaling in the sandbox: Future directions for examining collective ritual in child development. Invited Commentary. Religon, Brain, and Behaviour.
2. Clegg, J. M., Wen, N. J., & Rawlings, B. S. (2022). Culture is an optometrist: Cultural contexts adjust the prescription of social learning bifocals. Invited commentary. Behavioral and Brain Sciences. doi: 10.1017/S0140525X22001376 PDF
3. Clegg, J. M., Wen, N. J., +Hartman, P. E., +Alcott, A., +Keltner, E., & Legare, C. H. (2021). Teaching through collaboration: Flexibility and diversity in caregiver–child interaction across cultures. Child Development. doi: 10.1111/cdev.13443 PDF
4. Wen, N. J., Willard, A. K., +Caughy, M., & Legare, C. H. (2020). Watch me, watch you: Ritual participation increases in-group displays and out-group monitoring in children. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2019-0437 PDF | DATA
5. 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
7. Clegg, J. M., Wen, N. J., & Legare, C. H. (2017). ). Is non- conformity WEIRD? 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 | DATA
8. 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
9. 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). The psychological foundations of ritual learning. In M. Gelfand, C. Chiu and Y. Hong (Eds). Advances in culture and psychology. Oxford University Press. Link
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.*, Lo, S. L.*, & Miller, A. L. (resubmitted). Mindfulness processes that mitigate COVID-related stress exposure in parents in the United States.
2. Gervais, W. M. & Wen, N. J. (under review). Atheism Comes Easily: How disbelief can reshape theory on the cognitive and evolutionary origins of religion.
3. ^Kertesz, A. F.*, Fong, F. T. K*, Clegg, J. M., Erut, A., Nielsen, M., Wen, N. J., & Legare, C. H. (under review). WEIRD Adults have gender-stereotypical expectations about high-fidelity copying in children. Pre-registration
MANUSCRIPTS IN PREPARATION
1. Wen, N. J., Clegg, J. M., +Estrera, S. E., Fong, F. T. K., ^Kertesz, A. F., Erut, A., Nielsen, M. & Legare, C. H. (in prep). The ontogeny of American individualism: Individual differences in the association between non-conformity and intelligence. Pre-registration
2. Wen, N. J. & Warneken, F. (in prep). Children use ritual and instrumental competency to infer who is a more prosocial sharer and helper. Pre-registration
3. Wen, N. J.*, Clegg, J. M.*, +Cicardo, C. G., +Jacome, A. P., & Legare, C. H. (in prep). Cultural variation in first- versus third-party attention and imitation.
4. Kline, M. A., & Wen, N. J. (in prep). A close look at cultural learning: Proximate mechanisms across theoretical perspectives.
5. Fong, F. T. K.*, ^Kertesz, A. F.*, Clegg, J. M., Erut, A., Wen, N. J., Nielsen, M., & Legare, C. H. (in prep). Underlying rationales of adults’ association of children’s conformity and desirable traits. Pre-registration
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.
LECTURER & LAB INSTRUCTOR
I am currently a Lecturer in Psychology at Brunel University London. 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.
I have trained teams of research assistants in the Culture & Minds Lab (Divsion of Psychology, Brunel University London), 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.
Developmental Psychology- MSc Postgraduate (PY5603, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023)
Developmental Psychology-BSc Undergraduate (PY2602, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023)
Foundations of Cross-Cultural Psychology- MSc Postgraduate (PY5705, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023)
Special Topics in Culture and Evolution- MSc Postgraduate (PY5615, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023)
Conceptual and Historical Issues in Psychology- BSc Undergraduate (PY2601, Fall 2020)
Statistics and Research Design- Undergraduate (PSY 418, Spring 2016, taught 2 courses simultaneously)
Honors Thesis Research II- Undergraduate (PSY 379H, Fall 2015)
Honors Thesis Research I- Undergraduate (PSY 359H, Spring 2015)
Honors Thesis Students Advised
University of Michigan
"Children’s Expectations and Judgements of Conformity to Ritual Activities"
The University of Texas at Austin
"Variation in U.S. adults’ perceptions of children’s intelligence"
The University of Texas at Austin
"Ritual’s effect on instrumental tool use"
Interns & Research Assistants Trained
MSPICED PROGRAM, University of Michigan
2019: Anna Groffsky
RAS TRAINED, University of Michigan
2019-2020: Max Baron, Susan He, Caroline Maywood, Rachel Miller, Amy Nowack, Angela Shi, Madeline Taylor, Jazmine Thomas, Olivia Waelchli, Erin Yi, Price Zimmer
2018-2019: Anna Barr, Alisa Cui, Amanda Golden Eddy, Anna Groffsky, Emily Levy, Caroline Maywood, Alex Parks, Annie Rashes, Ryan Rich, Kari Sherwood, Aashika Sulabelle, Irein Thomas, Jiayin Yuan
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