What are they thinking?

What are they thinking?

Project GARDEN (The University of Texas at Dallas)

Who Can Participate

3- to 6-year-old children and their caregivers who are participating in Project GARDEN and are able to understand and answer questions in English. If you’re already in Project GARDEN and you want to see which study your child can do next, visit https://childrenhelpingscience.com/garden, click "Start Now", and select your child's name under "Find studies for..."

What Happens

In this Project GARDEN study, your child will play 7 mini-games. In each game your child will learn about a new person: what they like, want or believe. Then we will ask your child to predict how that person will act, feel, or think. For example, your child might learn that a person really likes trucks but not blocks, and then we will ask your child to tell us which toy that person will play with next. At the end of this study, you will be able to decide if you want to keep playing 2 more mini-games, similar to the first ones, for about 10-15 more minutes. These are totally optional, but you are welcome to play them if your child is enjoying the games and your family has the time.

What We're Studying

We’re interested in children’s theories of how other people’s minds work. As adults, we use our understanding of other minds all the time: when we tell someone to hand us “that” (knowing they will know what we are asking for), when we offer help (guessing from someone’s behavior that they might lack knowledge), or even when we decide who is to blame (considering whether someone ate the last snack knowingly, or did so by accident). In this study, we want to better understand how these impressive abilities develop.


15-20 minutes


$5 USD Amazon.com gift cards (usable on the U.S. website only). You will be emailed your gift card within 7 business days of participating in the study. To receive compensation, you must 1) provide a valid consent video (we will show you how!); 2) your child must be in the age range specified above; and 3) your child must be present during the recorded videos.

This study is conducted by Elizabeth Bonawitz (contact: rotem_aboody@gse.harvard.edu).

Would you like to participate in this study?