Welcome to the Young Minds Research Lab!


We study the inner workings of the mind across the lifespan.


Our Projects

Our projects examine how theories develop across the lifespan. Most of our current projects investigate how children reason about possessions and artifacts during early childhood. But, we also have some exciting projects examining people’s theories of learning.


The Science of Possessions

How do children think about theirs and others’ possessions?

Artifact learning

How do children learn about artifacts and their meanings?

Educational Beliefs

How do our beliefs about learning influence education and development?


Our Team

Principal Investigator


Shaylene Nancekivell

Dr. Shaylene Nancekivell is an Assistant Professor at UNCG who directs the Young Minds Research Lab. She is passionate about understanding how children’s minds develop. Her primary interests center around how children reason about possessions. But, she has additional interests in people’s beliefs about learning. Her work can be found in a wide range of developmental and cognitive science journals including Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Child Development, and Developmental Psychology. All of her work is tied together by her broad interests in intuitive theories and the nature of conceptual representations.

Learn more by viewing her CV, Google Scholar, or sending her an email at senancek@uncg.edu.

Graduate Student Investigators

This could be you!

We are currently looking for graduate student researchers! Apply today!

Undergraduate Student Investigators


Deanna Floyd

Deanna is a volunteer undergraduate research assistant. She is a Psychology Major in her Senior Year. She joined our lab to gain research experience and a deeper understanding of the psychological development of children. After attaining her BS in Psychology, Deanna plans to study to become a Clinical Psychologist with a focus on Reproductive Health.


Taya Hanson

Taya is a volunteer undergraduate research assistant. She is a Psychology Major in her Junior Year. She joined our lab to gain a better understanding of child development. After her finishing her undergraduate degree, Taya plans to study to become an Educational Psychologist.


We work with some amazing people and their research groups.

Drew Weatherhead, UBC, Postdoctoral Researcher

Janet Boseovski, UNCG, DUCK Lab

Jasmine Dejesus, UNCG, Development Culture Health Lab

Ori Friedman, University of Waterloo, Child Cognition Lab

Stephanie Denison, University of Waterloo, Developmental Learning Lab

Stuart Marcovitch, UNCG, DUCK Lab

Susan Gelman, University of Michigan, Conceptual Development Lab

Priti Shah, University of Michigan, Basic and Applied Cognition Lab


 Published Work


Check out some of our published work below. But, please do not distribute without permission. PDFs have only been provided as a means to ensure timely dissemination of scholarly work. Copyrights are maintained.


Nancekivell, S.E., Shah, P., & Gelman, S.A. (2019). Maybe they’re born with it or maybe it’s experience: Towards a deeper understanding of the learning style myth. Journal of Educational Psychology.

Nancekivell, S.E., Gelman, S.A., & Friedman, O. (2019). Ownership Matters: People possess a naive theory of ownership. Trends in Cognitive Sciences.

Nancekivell, S. E. & Friedman, O. (2019). I owe you an explanation: Children’s beliefs about when people are obligated to explain their actions. In T. Lombrozo, J. Knobe, & S. Nichols (Eds.), Oxford studies in experimental philosophy (Vol. 3). Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Nancekivell, S.E., & Friedman, O. (2018). Spoiled for choice: Identifying the building blocks of folk-economic beliefs. Commentary on Boyer and Peterson in Behavioral and Brain Sciences.

Weatherhead, D.W., & Nancekivell, S.E. (2018). Brungarians use it differently! Children’s understanding of artifact function as a cultural convention. Journal of Cognition and Culture, 18, 89-103.


Nancekivell, S.E., & Friedman, O. (2017). She bought the unicorn from the pet store: Six-to-seven-year-olds are strongly inclined to generate natural explanations. Developmental Psychology, 53, 1079-1087.

Nancekivell, S.E., & Friedman, O. (2017). “Because it’s hers”: When preschoolers use ownership in their explanations. Cognitive Science, 41, 827-843.


Nancekivell, S.E., Millar, J.C., Summers, P.C., & Friedman, O. (2016). Ownership rights. In J. Sytsma & J.W. Buckwalter (Eds.). A Companion to Experimental Philosophy. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.


Nancekivell, S.E., & Friedman O. (2014). Mine, yours, no-one's: Children’s understanding of how ownership affects object use. Developmental Psychology, 50, 1845-1853.

Nancekivell, S.E., & Friedman, O. (2014). Preschoolers selectively infer history when explaining outcomes: Evidence from explanations of ownership, liking, and use. Child Development, 85, 1236-1247.


Nancekivell, S.E., Van de Vondervoort, J.W., & Friedman, O. (2013). Young children’s understanding of ownership. Child Development Perspectives, 7, 243-247.