For Students

Research Assistant Positions

Our RA application for Winter 2024 are now closed. Applications for Fall 2024 will open in late summer.

We are seeking motivated students to assist with research on the development of cooperative behaviors in young children. As a research assistant, you will participate in a variety of research activities, including recruiting and scheduling families, testing children online and in the lab, coding and analyzing data, and helping with study design. Interests in psychology and in working with children are essential, and previous research experience is a plus. We ask you to commit to working 9-12 hours a week in the lab and attend our weekly lab meetings.

If you have any questions, please email us at warneken.labmanager@umich.edu

Courses for Winter 2024

Dr. Warneken teaches courses on the evolution and development of social cognition that are good starting points for getting involved in our research.

PSYCH 466 – Origins of Moral Development

Is human nature selfish? How do we learn to tell right from wrong, good from evil, fair from unfair? Can we overcome prejudice and bias? Can we predict who will be a good citizen and who will become a psychopath? These are fundamental questions for all human societies, and also questions that have motivated recent research in the behavioral sciences investigating the origins and the development of moral judgment and conduct. In this seminar, we will read recent articles and books by some of the most eloquent scientists in the field who are able to make their research accessible to the wider public. This course is discussion-based, with the goal of bringing new ideas to bear on tricky questions that are still unresolved. Emphasis is put on reading original literature, writing discussion questions in preparation for class, and engagement in lively discussions.

PSYCH 326 – Faculty Directed Early Research for Psychology

​Research assistants can earn course credits through many tasks and activities designed to strengthen their knowledge of child development and research.

See what past students had to say about working in our lab


I love working with people who have similar passions for working with children, understanding human nature, and moral development. This lab has given me the incredible opportunity to learn from some of the top researchers in our field as well as meet other students pursuing a similar path. I love working with the children in all formats, but our in-person testing for our Living Lab in the Hands-On-Museum has been so much fun. I feel truly supported and encouraged by all the senior members of this lab and I am excited to continue working with the lab this year!

“I have enjoyed having the opportunity to work on a variety of projects in-depth with different senior lab members. Through these experiences, I have gained insight into multiple aspects of moral development as well as the vital components that come together behind the scenes to form successful experiments. Being involved in research has enhanced my understanding of and appreciation for psychology, and I look forward to continuing to learn in the Social Minds Lab.

I enjoy the friendly and collaborative relationship between the senior members and the research assistants, the attention to the needs and goals of the undergraduates as a part of the team, having an active role in study visits with children, and playing with puppets as part of research!

“Being a member of the Social Minds lab has been one of my favorite experiences here at Michigan. Working with children is already entertaining, but being able to assist on different studies instead of just one, makes it all the while better. The graduate students were always willing to hear the RAs input on testing techniques and other important details in their study, and they really valued our insight. This was really encouraging. This is definitely an environment in which you are heard and your interest in developmental psychology will absolutely increase!”

“At the start of the semester, as someone who had barely any research experience, I was not sure what to expect by working in the Social Minds Lab. However, over the course of past few months, I have been able to gain a solid understanding for how research is actually carried out through attending lab meetings, participating in museum shifts and recruiting for lab visits. A key component to my own development has been the emphasis on open communication within the lab: everyone is made to feel like they have a voice. Ultimately, I would absolutely recommend working at the Social Minds Lab to anyone who is looking to get involved in research.”

“As a part of the Social Minds lab we participated in recruiting potential subjects to participate in our studies, coded video recordings of the experiments, and helped out the lab instructors by assisting them with running the actual experiments. Being a part of this lab was an incredible experience because it taught me valuable lessons about research and what it is all about. To anyone out there who has the slightest interest in extremely fascinating research this is the lab for you. It has given me one of the best experiences of my college career and I’d recommend it to anyone!”