Babies' Understanding of Friendship

Babies' Understanding of Friendship

Harvard Lab for Developmental Studies (Thomas) (Harvard University)

Who Can Participate

For 12- to 14-month-olds who are based in the US.

What Happens

This study will take place on a video call, live with a researcher! You can sign up for up to 3 sessions for this study. Clicking on the “Participate Now!” button will send you to an online calendar where you can select a time that works for you. In this Zoom-based study, your baby will watch videos of some animated characters who hug each other, and others who don't. The characters will either then be helpful or unhelpful towards each other. We'll look at how long babies look to the videos, so that we can understand whether they're surprised.

What We're Studying

To navigate the world, children face a challenge of learning how people are related to each other. The present study asks how children reason about social closeness. Specifically, we ask whether babies reason that people who engage in close physical contact are also more likely to know what each other wants. This study will shed light on babies' understanding of social relationships. Although past research has studied babies' understanding of helping, limited research has examined how social relationships may influence others' helping behavior.


20 minutes


Babies can participate up to three times in this study (on three separate days), for which they will receive a separate $5 online gift card for each visit (and a certificate of participation, if requested), within 24 hours of participating. To receive the gift card(s) and certificate, the child must be within the age range for our study. Each child will only receive one gift card per visit. We can compensate participants with an Amazon US gift card, or with an alternative online gift card (e.g., Target, other companies, etc.). We'll ask you about what gift cards work for your family, and we'll work with our lab manager to get you a suitable gift card.

This study is conducted by Dr. Ashley Thomas (contact:

Would you like to participate in this study?