Many Babies 4: An International Cross-Lab Study Examining Infants’ Social Evaluations
We will soon be starting data collection for a large scale, multisite, international replication study called Many Babies 4 (MB4). We will be inviting parents and their 5- to 10-month-old infants to participate in this study, which examines infants’ preferences for prosocial individuals (helpers) over anti-social agents (hinderers). Prior research suggests that babies as young as 5 months of age prefer to interact with an individual who helped over an individual who hindered another individual’s goal attainment. This original finding raises important questions about the origins of morality. To test the strength of this effect, researchers across the globe are working together to conduct a large study to replicate the original findings. ELLA is proud to be one of the original members of this massive effort, which we will be collecting data for this year! We look forward to inviting families with 5- to 10-month-old babies to ELLA to take part in this groundbreaking research endeavour.

For more information: Please visit ManyBabies 4 Official website


Cooperation and Prosocial Behaviour: How do biology and social experience shape children’s ability to work with others?
Everyday functioning relies on the ability to successfully work together with each other. Something as simple as buying groceries relies on the cooperation of many individuals (e.g., farmers, grocers, cashiers, etc.). In addition to being an important part of our everyday lives, cooperation plays an important role in children’s social and cognitive development. We have just finished the final data collection wave of this longitudinal study which began when our participants were 9 months of age. Our oldest participants in this final session were 10 years old! This study involved more than 600 NZ families and examines how biological and experiential factors shape the development of this important skill. Although data collection is complete, we still have a tonne of work to do as we code and analyse all of the data which is how we will be able to provide answers to our question of how biology and experiences shape cooperative and prosocial behaviour development across early childhood. This work has been funded by the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Marsden Fund and a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship awarded to A. Henderson.


Early Communication in Cyber World
Parents play a critical role in infants’ communicative development. Although much is known about how parent-infant interactions shape communicative development in face-to-face contexts, little is known about how screen media impacts these processes. As screen media continues to significantly rise in popularity, it is crucial to ask how screens impact the dynamic structure of parent-infant interactions, learning, and development. Thus, one aim of this ongoing project is to investigate the ways in which interactions between 1.5- to 2-year-old infants and their parents differ across contexts involving screen media (such as video chat and interactive touchscreen games) and in traditional face-to-face interactions.

Another aim of this project is to deepen our understanding of early communication in order to inform and build a developmentally appropriate ‘model’ of early communication. Models allow researchers to test and validate psychological theories. This aspect of this project is conducted in collaboration with NZ-based company, Soul Machines.

A recent extension of this project examines how screen media interactions differ between caregivers and unfamiliar adults who have their own infant. This part of the research is our first online component and asks caregivers to participate from the comfort of their own home! If you have an infant between the ages of 20 and 26 months and would like to participate in this study, we will be collecting data through to the end of 2022.


Family Resilience and Wellbeing
We are also conducting a study on family resilience and well-being. This research examines how parents and children respond to the inevitable challenges of life. Prior work has shown that different strategies work for different people in different contexts. So, rather than identifying the way families should be resilient, our study aims to identify how different ways of feeling, thinking and behaving work for different parents, children and contexts. And, because families are so important, our study is looking at what parents do, what children do, and what parents and children do together that fosters resilience and well-being. This research is a collaborative project with ELLA and REACH Relationship Lab, led by Professor Nickola Overall. This project involves over 290 families, and has been tracking parents and children’s health and well-being from before and throughout the pandemic.


To participate in any of the above studies you can register your interest here or contact us at