Celeste Kidd

Celeste Kidd

Title
Assistant Professor
Department
Dept of Psychology
Research Expertise and Interest
attention, curiosity, learning, computational modeling, cognitive development, machine learning, belief formation
Research Description

The Kidd Lab studies the processes involved in knowledge acquisition, especially in young children, using a combination of computational and behavioral methods.

We draw inspiration from classic learning theories in education and psychology, like those by Jean Piaget, Maria Montessori, and Lev Vygotsky. We build computational models inspired by these classic theories that allow us to make specific predictions and generate testable competing hypotheses about learning dynamics (for example, the relationship between the learning context and learning outcomes).

We also design behavioral experiments to empirically differentiate between competing learning theories. Our experiments measure how learners attend and explore throughout the process of learning. Different experiments measure how humans look, explore, and play, starting in infancy and continuing throughout childhood. We use eye-trackers to measure visual fixations to screens during passive viewing, and touchscreens to study touch-based exploration in kid-friendly apps, in addition to studying more traditional play behaviors.

Our results are quantitative theories about how data interacts with learners’ growing knowledge. These formal theories can function as the “back-end” for learning technologies, in addition to informing parenting, educational, and clinical practices.

In the News

March 26, 2020

Coronavirus skeptics, deniers: Why some of us stick to deadly beliefs

Many young adults are defying the 6-feet-apart social distancing rules. What causes certain people to stick to their beliefs and act with skepticism despite overwhelming contradictory evidence? Berkeley News asked Celeste Kidd, a UC Berkeley computational cognitive scientist who studies false beliefs, curiosity and learning.
May 23, 2019

What we think we know — but might not — pushes us to learn more

If you think you know the farm animal most closely related to T-Rex, or the American president who inspired the creation of blueberry jelly beans — but aren’t quite sure — you’re more likely to bone up on the chicken-dinosaur connection or Ronald Reagan’s predilection for glazed, gel-filled candies.

In the News

March 26, 2020

Coronavirus skeptics, deniers: Why some of us stick to deadly beliefs

Many young adults are defying the 6-feet-apart social distancing rules. What causes certain people to stick to their beliefs and act with skepticism despite overwhelming contradictory evidence? Berkeley News asked Celeste Kidd, a UC Berkeley computational cognitive scientist who studies false beliefs, curiosity and learning.
May 23, 2019

What we think we know — but might not — pushes us to learn more

If you think you know the farm animal most closely related to T-Rex, or the American president who inspired the creation of blueberry jelly beans — but aren’t quite sure — you’re more likely to bone up on the chicken-dinosaur connection or Ronald Reagan’s predilection for glazed, gel-filled candies.

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or positions of UC Berkeley.
May 28, 2019
Doubt is the driver of curiosity and the urge to learn, suggests a new study by Berkeley researchers. "It's very in vogue to talk about curiosity as a strategy to increase learning, but it's unclear how to engage people's curiosity," says assistant psychology professor Celeste Kidd, the study's senior author. "Our study suggests it's the uncertainty -- when you think you know something and discover you don't -- that leads to the most curiosity and learning." Co-author Shirlene Wade, a visiting doctoral scholar in Professor Kidd's lab, says: "Asking students to explain how things work can be an effective learning intervention because it makes them aware of what they don't know and curious about what they need to know." This story originated at Berkeley News. A related story about Professor Kidd's research appeared in Study Finds. It stemmed from another story at Berkeley News.
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