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Kristen Dunfield, PhD

Associate Professor, Psychology

Kristen Dunfield, PhD

Research interests

My research focuses on how children interact with, learn from, and evaluate the people in their environment. Specifically, I examine the effect of social cognition on the development, production, and maintenance of trust and prosocial behaviour. The long-term goal of my research program is to achieve a more comprehensive understanding of the effect of trust on human behaviour and development through the utilization of methods and theory from social, cognitive, and evolutionary psychology.

Work in my lab can broadly be divided into three related lines examining:

  1. how children extend trust to others through the production of prosocial behaviours,
  2. the development of children's ability to respond to other's displays of trustworthiness through selective social interactions
  3. individual difference factors that affect the tendency to extend trust


PhD (Queen's University)

Teaching activities

PSYC 315: Statistical Analysis I

PSYC 432: Childhood Development

PSYC 466: Cognitive Development

Selected publications

RefereedJournal Articles

Dunfield, K.A. & Johnson, S.C. (2015). Variability in social reasoning: The influence ofattachment security on the attribution of goals. Frontiers. Developmental Psychology. 6:1487. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01487

Wagner, L., Dunfield, K.A. &Rohrbeck, K.L. (2014). Children’s Use of Social Cues when Learning Conventions.Journal of Cognition and Development, 15, 479-494.

Dunfield K.A. (2014). Aconstruct divided: prosocial behavior as helping, sharing, and comfortingsubtypes. Frontiers. DevelopmentalPsychology. 5:958. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00958

Kuhlmeier V.A., Dunfield K.A.,& O’Neill A.C. (2014).Selectivity in early prosocial behavior. Frontiers.Developmental Psychology. 5:836.doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00836

Dunfield. K.A., Kuhlmeier,V.A. & Murphy, L.J. (2013). The roots of cooperation: Partner choice inyoung children. PLOS one. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0061804

Cunningham, W.A., Dunfield, K.A.,& Stillman, P.E. (2013). Emotional states from affective dynamics. EmotionReview. 5, 344-355.

Fitneva, S.A., Lam, N.& Dunfield, K.A. (2013). The Development of children’s informationgathering: To look or to ask. Developmental Psychology, 49, 533-542.

Dunfield, K.A. & Kuhlmeier, V.A. (2013). Classifying Prosocial Behaviour:Children’s Responses to Instrumental Need, Emotional Distress, and MaterialDesire. Child Development, 8, 1766-1776.

Dunfield,K.A., Kuhlmeier, V.A.,O’Connell, L.J. & Kelley, E.A. (2011). Examining the Diversity of ProsocialBehaviour: Helping, Sharing, and Comforting in Infancy. Infancy, 16, 227-247.

Dunfield, K.A. & Kuhlmeier, V.A. (2010). Intention-mediated selectivehelping in infancy. PsychologicalScience, 21, 523-527.

Fitneva, S.A., & Dunfield, K.A. (2010). Selective information seeking after asingle encounter, DevelopmentalPsychology, 46, 1380-1384. [IF: 3.782]

Peer-reviewed Book Chapters

Dirks,M.A., Dunfield, K.A., & Recchia, H., (in press). Prosocial Behaviorwith Peers: Intentions, Outcomes, and Interpersonal Adjustments. In W.Bukowski, B. Laursen, & K. Rubin (Eds.) Handbookof Peer Interactions, Relationships, and Groups.

Cunningham, W.A., Dunfield, K.A., & Stillman, P.E. (2014)Affect dynamics: Iterative reprocessing in the production of emotionalresponses. In L. Feldman-Barrett & J. Russell (Eds.) The Psychological Construction of Emotions.

Johnson, S.C., Dweck, C.S., & Dunfield, K.A. (2013).How universals and individual differences can inform each other: The case ofsocial expectations in infancy. In M. Banaji & S. Gelman (Eds.) Navigatingthe Social World: What Infants, Children, and Other Species Can Teach Us.

Peer-reviewed Commentaries

Dunfield, K.A. &Kuhlmeier, V.A. (2013). Evidence for partner choice in toddlers: Considering thebreadth of other-oriented behaviours. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 36, 88-89.

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