Annie E. Wertz

© MPI for Human Development
Research Group Leader

wertz [at] mpib-berlin [dot] mpg [dot] de
49 30 82406-300

Short CV: 

2014-present - Research Group Leader, MPRG Naturalistic Social Cognition, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin

2009-2014 - Postdoctoral Researcher, Infant Cognition Center, Yale University

2009 - Ph.D., Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara

2003 - B.A., Psychology, Boston University, summa cum laude, with distinction

Research Interests: 

My research investigates how infants and young children think about and learn from other people in naturalistic circumstances. The primary focus of this work is the selective social learning strategies that humans use to acquire information about plants over the course of development. My work provided the first evidence that human infants do indeed possess behavioral and social learning strategies that are selective to plants (e.g., infants avoid plant dangers and selectively learn that plants are edible). I am continuing to investigate plant-relevant learning rules by using a combination of laboratory studies and naturalistic observations of infants, young children, and their parents. This research provides a window into the complex interplay of evolutionary and developmental factors that allow human beings to accumulate cultural knowledge.

Selected Literature: 

Kominsky, J.F., Strickland, B., Wertz, A.E., Elsner, C., Wynn, K., & Keil, F.C. (in press). Categories and constraints in causal perception. Psychological Science.

Pietraszewski, D., Wertz, A.E., Bryant, G.A., & Wynn, K. (2017). Three-month-old infants use vocal cues of body size. Proceedings of the Royal Society Biological Sciences, 284, 20170656.

Wertz, A.E., & Wynn, K. (2014). Selective social learning of plant edibility in 6- and 18-month-old infants. Psychological Science, 24, 874-882.

Wertz, A.E., & Wynn., K. (2014). Thyme to touch: Infants possess strategies that protect them from dangers posed by plants. Cognition, 130, 44-49.

Wertz, A.E., & German, T.C. (2013). Theory of mind in the wild: Toward tackling the challenges of everyday mental state reasoning. PLoS ONE, 8(9), e72835.

Pietraszewski, D., & Wertz, A.E. (2011). Reverse engineering the structure of cognitive mechanisms. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 34, 209-210.

Wertz, A.E. (2011). Cognitive adaptation: Distinguishing between levels of analysis. Theory and Psychology, 21, 416-418.