Tamar Kushnir
Prof Asst

Web Bio Page


Biographical Statement

Tamar Kushnir is an Assistant Professor of Human Development, and the director of the Early Childhood Cognition Laboratory.  She received her M.A. in Statistics and Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, and was a Post-Doctoral fellow at the University of Michigan.       

Dr. Kushnir's research examines the remarkable process of causal learning in young children. Her previous work has addressed 1)how children use statistical evidence to learn new causal relations, 2)how new evidence interacts with children's prior causal beliefs, and 3)how causal learning is influenced by children's developing social knowledge and also by their own experience of action. She continues to explore the role that children's developing knowledge - in particular their social knowledge - plays in learning, a question with implications for the study of cognitive development as well as for early childhood education.


1996    B.A. in Psychology, Magna Cum Laude

Barnard College, Columbia University

2004    MA in Statistics

University of California, Berkeley

Advisor: David Brillinger, Ph.D.

2005    Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology

University of California, Berkeley         

Thesis: Children and Adults Reason About Causal Uncertainty. 

Advisor: Alison Gopnik, Ph.D.

Courses, Websites, Pubs

Courses Taught
Fall 2008 - Cognitive Development (HD2300)
Spring 2009 - Current Topics in Cognitive Development (HD4340)

Selected Publications

Kushnir, T., Wellman, H. M. & Gelman, S. A.(in press).  A self-agency bias in children’s causal inferences. Developmental Psychology.

Kushnir, T., Xu, F, & Wellman, H. M. (2008). Preschoolers use sampling information to infer the preferences of others. Proceedings of the 30th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society.

Legare, C. H., Gelman, S. A, Wellman, H. M. & Kushnir, T. (2008). The function of causal explanatory reasoning. Proceedings of the 30th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society.

Kushnir, T., Wellman, H. M. & Gelman, S. A.(2008).  The role of preschoolers’ social understanding in evaluating the informativeness of causal interventions. Cognition.

Kushnir, T. & Gopnik, A. (2007).  Conditional probability versus spatial contiguity in causal learning: Preschoolers use new contingency evidence to overcome prior spatial assumptions. Developmental Psychology, 44, 186-196.

Schulz, L. E., Kushnir, T., & Gopnik, A. (2007). Learning from doing: Interventions and causal inference.  In A. Gopnik & L. E. Schulz (Eds.), Causal Learning; Psychology, Philosophy and Computation, 67-86.  New York: Oxford University Press.

Sobel, D. M. & Kushnir, T. (2006). The importance of decision-making in causal learning from interventions. Memory & Cognition, 34. 411-419.

Kushnir T. & Gopnik, A., (2005). Children infer causal strength from probabilities and interventions. Psychological Science, 16, 678-683.

Gopnik, A., Glymour, C., Sobel, D., Schulz, L. E., Kushnir, T., & Danks, D. (2004).  A theory of causal learning in children: Causal maps and Bayes nets.  Psychological Review, 111(1), 3-32