Social learning, social cognition, and cognitive development in early childhood. How children's early learning is fundamentally shaped by the social context in which it occurs.

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 Perspectives14, 34-40.

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 Development54, 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 Psychology176, 73-83.

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