Dr. Butler's research program focuses on the development of children’s empirical reasoning. He investigates how and when children develop the empirical reasoning skills necessary to navigate this information-rich, complex world, and how this development is shaped and fostered by often subtle aspects of the social context in which it occurs. His research program comprises two interrelated lines of investigation. First, in much of his work he has investigated how children engage in the empirical process themselves. This includes investigating what factors influence how children identify the specific learning opportunities presented in a given situation, how they use social cues to guide the process of making inductive inferences, and how this varies across contexts and domains. Second, in recent lines of work he has been investigating how children evaluate others’ empirical practices. This includes investigating how children evaluate whether others’ empirical claims are based on sufficient evidence, how that empirical reasoning is integrated with and affected by their understanding of other people and their goals, motives, and social connections, and children’s understanding of scientific principles such as transparency, integrity, and reproducibility. Prior to joining the department, Dr. Butler completed his Ph.D. in Psychology from Stanford University, and was an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.
2017 Research and Scholarship Award, University of Maryland
2016 Rising Star Award, Association for Psychological Science
2012-2014 Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
2011 Student Travel Award, Society for Research in Child Development
2011 Norman H. Anderson Research Fund, Stanford University
2011 Dissertation Research Award, American Psychological Association
2009-2012 Graduate Research Fellowship, National Science Foundation
2007-2008 Sidney Siegel Fellowship, Stanford University
2005 Harvard Psychology Faculty Prize for Distinguished Honors Thesis
2005 Jerome Kagan Undergraduate Research Award, Harvard University
Butler, L. P. (2020). The empirical child? A framework for investigating the development of scientific habits of mind. Child Development Perspectives, 14, 34-40. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdep.12354
Butler, L. P., *Gibbs, H., & *Levush, K. C. (2020). Look again: Pedagogical demonstration facilitates children's use of counterevidence. Child Development, 91, e1194-e1210.
Butler, L. P., *Gibbs, H. M., & Tavassolie, N. S. (2020). Children’s developing understanding that even reliable sources need to verify their claims. Cognitive Development, 54, 100871. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cogdev.2020.100871
Butler, L. P., Ronfard, S., & Corriveau, K. H. (Eds.) (2020). The questioning child: Insights from psychology and education. Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 978-1108428910
Butler, L. P., Schmidt, M. F. H., Tavassolie, N., & *Gibbs, H. (2018). Children’s evaluation of verified and unverified claims. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 176, 73-83. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2018.07.007
Butler, L. P., & Markman, E. M. (2016). Navigating pedagogy: Children’s developing capacities for learning from pedagogical interactions. Cognitive Development, 38, 27-35.
Butler, L. P., & Tomasello, M. (2016). Two- and 3-year-old children integrate linguistic and pedagogical cues in guiding inductive generalizations and exploration. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 145, 64-78.
Schmidt, M. F. H., Butler, L. P., Heinz, J., & Tomasello, M. (2016). Young children see a single action and infer a social norm: Promiscuous normativity in 3-year-olds. Psychological Science.
Butler, L. P., Schmidt, M. F. H., Buergel, J., & Tomasello, M. (2015). Young children use pedagogical cues to modulate the strength of normative inferences. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 33, 476-488.
Butler, L. P., & Markman, E. M. (2014). Preschoolers use pedagogical cues to guide radical reorganization of category knowledge. Cognition, 130, 116-12.
Butler, L.P., & Walton, G.M., (2013). The opportunity to collaborate increases preschoolers' motivation for challenging tasks. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 116, 953-961.
Butler, L. P., & Markman, E. M. (2012). Preschoolers use intentional and pedagogical cues to guide inductive inferences and exploration. Child Development, 83, 1416-1428.
Butler, L. P., & Markman, E. M. (2012). Finding the cause: Verbal framing helps children extract causal evidence embedded in a complex scene. Journal of Cognition & Development, 13, 38-66.
2017-2018 Small Research Grant, Spencer Foundation. Children’s Developing Understanding that Claims About the World Need to be Verified. $49,935
2017-2018 Research and Scholarship Award, University of Maryland Asked and Answered: How Adults’ Explanatory Responses Influence Children's Causal Exploration and Discovery. $10,000
2015-2016 SPARC Assistant Professor Award, University of Maryland. How Parents Shape Children’s Learning From Evidence. $15,000