My research focuses on the early development of emotional and cognitive empathy in typically developing infants, as well as in infants diagnosed with autism or those exposed to severe environmental risk. Empathy is studied in the broader context of social cognition and behaviour and prosocial behaviour. The research aims to answer the following questions: What are the trajectories of early empathy development? How can empathy be measured in pre-verbal infants? How is sex/gender related to empathy development? Does empathy develop differently in autism, and if so, how? How does extreme environmental risk (abuse, trauma) influences empathy development?
Another focus is on the interplay between environmental and genetic/biological factors in influencing typical and atypical socio-emotional development. Investigating the combined effects of biology and environment allows us to create a more comprehensive understanding of empathy development. Biological aspects under study include genetics, gene expression epigenetics and endocrinological measures (such as hormone levels in blood and saliva).
In practice, the research takes place in (1) psychology lab where we observe and measure children and parents’ behaviour, and (2) biology lab where biological analyses are conducted.
Additional details and a full publication list can be found here: