I joined the Cal State San Marcos Psychology Department in 2013. My area of specialization is in social cognitive development. I completed my graduate and undergraduate training at the University of California, San Diego. My research focuses on how children (and people in general) learn to reason about the thoughts and behaviors of others. Particularly, I am interested in how young children learn to judge the reliability of sources who provide information, as well as how children make inferences about the mental states of such sources.
2008-2013 Ph.D., University of California, San Diego
Advisors: Gail Heyman and David Liu
2007-2008 M.A., University of California, San Diego
2003-2007 B.S., University of California, San Diego
Psychology, with departmental honors
minor in Anthropology
Navigating the Social World
Knowing Whom to Trust: The ability to judge the reliability of sources is of the utmost importance in social life. Because social life requires that we absorb information at a rate far exceeding our ability to gain information firsthand, we often rely on other people to provide us with information about the world. For example, we commonly rely on others to teach us about the existence of microorganisms, events in national history, and even tomorrow’s weather forecast. Children especially, must rapidly acquire a great deal of information about the world, and often rely on other people to teach them such information. Although the transmission of information between individuals and across generation affords us many benefits (both as individuals and as a species) there are also inherent dangers to accepting information from others. As adults, we know to be skeptical of the information we receiver from others, or risk being misinformed or misled. But when do children learn this critical social skill? When do children learn to be skeptical of the information others provide? My research addresses the nature and development of children’s skepticism toward unreliable sources, and particularly, children’s reasoning about deceptive sources. As part of this research program, I have investigated whether children trust sources they have seen be deceptive, what factors influence children’s selective trust, and how this understanding relates to other social and cognitive abilities such as theory of mind and inhibitory control. The central goals of my research are to better characterize the development of skepticism in young children, to identify the factors that inform children’s trust judgments, and to explore methods for improving children’s critical thinking.
Liu, D. & Vanderbilt, K. E. (2013). Children learn from and about variability between people. In M. R. Banaji & S. A. Gelman (Eds.) Navigating the Social World: A Developmental Perspective. New York: Oxford University Press. [link]
PSYC 100: Introduction to Psychology Introduction to basic concepts, problems, and research methods in the science of psychology. Includes perception, cognitive processes, learning, motivation, measurement, development, personality, abnormal behavior, and biological and social bases of behavior, including cross-cultural issues. The requirements will include participation in low-risk psychological experiments or completion of additional short papers.
PSYC 330: Developmental Psychology: Infancy and Childhood Theories, methods and research on development from conception through childhood. Includes biological, genetic, and physical development; social-emotional development, cognitive and language development; perception and brain development.
PSYC 331: Infancy and Childhood: Theories and Research Focus on theories, methods ,and research in developmental psychology from conception through childhood. Includes biological, genetic, and physical development;social-emotional development, cognitive and language development;perception and brain development. Analysis and synthesis of scholarly articles are integral parts of this course.
PSYC 395: Laboratory in Developmental Psychology Advanced research methods in life-span developmental psychology. Application of methodological principles to research in such areas as cognitive and social development. Two hours lecture and three hours laboratory.
PSYC 499: Independent Research Independent research investigation (e.g., empirical laboratory or field research) in collaboration with a faculty member.
PSYC 552: Graduate Proseminar in Developmental Psychology Advanced study of current research and theory in developmental psychology. Issues such as temperament, attachment, gender-identity, cognition, and emotion will be considered from a developmental perspective, as well as the influences of family relationships, social interactions, cultural values, education, and social policy on development. Class discussions and assignments will encourage critical and analytic thinking as well as active learning approaches. Students will make formal oral and written presentations of individual and/or group projects.
Welcome to the R.O.C.K. S.T.A.R. Lab!
R.O.C.K. S.T.A.R. stands for Research On Children's Knowledge of Social Thinking And Reasoning.
Our main goal is to investigate how children learn about the social world. We conduct interviews with children both on the CSUSM campus, and in the surrounding community. You may see us at the San Diego Children's Discovery Museum, or at your local preschool. If you do, stop by and say hello!
Meet the the R.O.C.K. S.T.A.R. Lab Team:
Pets: A dog named Rocket and a cat named Bucket
Pets: A cat named Steve
Pets: Dog named Ginger
Other involvements: Alpha Chi Omega
Career aspirations: Masters in marriage and family counseling
Pets: Dog named Keira
Other involvements: Community Conversation Partners
Career aspirations: Author
Pets: Dog named Lucy
Other involvements: Founding member of Voices of Hope, former Vice President of Active Minds, PSI CHI member, former SHCS intern
Career aspirations: Clinical psychologist
Other involvements: Leader of the Global Partnership Program and a member of Alpha Chi Omega
Career aspirations: I currently work as behavioral therapist, and after attending graduate school I would like to be a clinical manager for an ABA therapy company.
Major: Child and Adolescent Development
Pets: Two cats named Izzie and Rollie
Other involvements: Work part time as a teacher assistant at Shuckleberries home preschool and daycare in San Marcos
Career aspirations: Preschool teacher
Pets: A cat named Cat, and a 55 gallon tank with several Cichlids
Career Aspirations: Research that helps protect kids against advertisements and stereotypes
Pets: Cat named Boo Radley
Other involvements: State-wide CSU Research Symposium
Career aspirations: Developmental psychologist with an interest in building resilience in children
Pets: Black lab named Rocco
Career aspirations: In the future I hope to create and run my own life coaching/ teaching workshops that help to educate people in mental, emotional, and physical health and wellness.
Pets: German Shepherd named Georgia
Other involvements: Member of Delta Zeta sorority, Gamma Sigma Alpha Greek Honor Society, Order of Omega Greek Honor Society, Psi Chi, and an RA in Dr. Kim Tsai's Culture, Adolescent, Family, Adjustment (CAFA) lab
Career aspirations: Working in the field of education, whether that be as a teacher in the classroom or as a researcher examining ways to enhance students' learning. I am particularly interested in children's academic readiness and executive functioning skills and how these work together to prepare children for the classroom. I would love to do research on different executive functioning tasks and how we can implement these tasks as intervention programs in the classroom to better support students who are falling behind.
Major: Child & Adolescent Development
Pets: Luna my Australian Shepherd, Frankie my Shnauzer mix, Charmmy and Kiki my cats, and Ariel my newt.
Other involvements: PSI CHI, volunteered for the Psychology Research Spotlight in Spring 2016
Career aspirations: Elementary teacher
Monique Stolmeier, Hunter Montoya, Ruby Cuellar, Tricia Alcid, Linda Carter, Hillary Hartman, Camille McArdle-Hankin, Derrick Ocampo, Donna Phonsane, Kelsie Santoro, Karlena Ochoa, Melissa Gary, Jenny Lagervall, Leann Leite, Samantha Marshall, Bianca Medina, Sarah Ross, Tim Burtnett, Sarah Chaffins, Eileen Lux, Savanah McPhillips, Brian Voss, Lorrie Yates
Lab Alumni have continued on to gradute school at:
University of Oregon, USC, CSUSM, CSU San Bernadino, San Diego State, CSU Dominguez Hills, UC Riverside, University of Northern Colorado, Oregon State University, Brown University, University of ArizonaInterested in joining the R.O.C.K. S.T.A.R. Lab Team?!
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Check out our newsletter for updates on the lab!
Who are we?
We are members of the CSUSM R.O.C.K.S.T.A.R. Lab. “ROCKSTAR” stands for Research On Children’s Knowledge of Social Thinking And Reasoning. We are graduate and undergraduate students studying psychological science, human development and child/adolescent development at Cal State San Marcos. Dr. Kimberly Vanderbilt is the director of the ROCKSTAR lab.
What do we do at the museum?
We help the San Diego Children's Discovery Museum promote STEM education for children and families in San Diego County. We want to help kids and their families learn about science first hand, through science-based games and even real science interviews! And kids can win stickers for playing with us!
What are we studying?
We’re interested in answering questions about how kids understand and navigate the social world around them. We’re interested in how children learn about people—such as how smart or honest a person is—and how children learn to navigate the complicated social world we live in—such as understanding other’s thoughts and actions, and knowing when to trust or share with others.
How do we learn about kids?
We play games with kids and ask them questions to learn more about how they think and learn about the world. We may play a game, or read some stories about made-up characters. Afterward, we’ll ask kids some questions about the games or the story characters—but don’t worry, there are no right or wrong answers; we just want to know what kids think! And all answers are always anonymous.
What do we do with the information?
Once we’ve interviewed a bunch of kids (usually 100-200!), we look for patterns across the responses. Then, we use those patterns to figure out how kids at a particular age (like 4-year-olds) see the world, and how that differs from kids who are older or younger. Then, we share what we’ve learned with other researchers, teachers, and caregivers. That way, we can all better understand kids’ unique perspective of the world, and how to better help kids learn and grow!
Our Research in the News: