Amanda L. Woodward
University of Chicago
Developmental psychologist; Educator
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Research focuses on understanding the maturational and experiential factors that make possible the child's entry into language acquisition. Launched a new field-children's understanding of human action-with her classic 1998 Cognition paper showing that infants represent human actions not as purely physical motions, but rather as actions directed at goals and objects of attention: Infants are able to recognize goal-directed acts as intentional at varying levels of analysis, including concrete action goals, higher order plans, acts of attention, and collaborative goals. More recently, explored the process by which infants come to understand others as intentional agents, showing that infants' own action experiences shape their action perception of others' goal-directed actions. Work offers fundamental insight into the nature and development of human reasoning not only about human actions, but also about the mental states that guide the actions of the self and others.