A huge part of our everyday lives involves interacting with others, both through language and through nonverbal behaviors. In order to become part of this social world, children must learn to interpret others’ words and actions. Rose Scott's research examines how children learn to do this.
One area of her research focuses on when children come to interpret others’ behavior in terms of mental states, such as goals, preferences and beliefs. In particular, she is interested in when children realize that other people can have false beliefs, or be mistaken, about the world. She is also involved in projects examining the development of false-belief understanding in children from a variety of cultures, as well as in children diagnosed with autism.
Her second area of research examines early language acquisition, especially how children learn the meanings of verbs. Specifically, she is interested in what children can learn about new verbs in situations where it’s unclear what the speaker is referring to. For instance, a child might hear his mother use a new verb while she is talking on the phone. Can this child learn anything about this new verb, even though he can’t see what mother is talking about?