Azzurra Ruggeri


Leader of the Max Planck Research Group iSearch - Information Search, Ecological and Active Learning Research with Children

Professor, TUM School of Education of the Technical University of Munich

Professor, Department of Cognitive Science, Central European University, Vienna



Short CV

  • 2021-present: Central European University, Vienna Assistant Professor (W2), Cognitive Science Department 
  • 2017-present: Technical University Munich Assistant Professor (W2) of Cognitive and Developmental Psychology, School of Education
  • 2016-present: Max Planck Institute for Human Development Max Planck Research Group Leader, Max Planck Research Group iSearch
    Faculty of the International Max Planck Research School on the Life Course (LIFE)                 
  • 2015-2016: Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin Researcher, Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition
  • 2013-2015: University of California, Berkeley Postdoctoral Scholar, Department of Psychology
  • 2012-2013: Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin Postdoctoral Scholar, Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition
  • 2012: Humboldt University of Berlin - Ph.D., Psychology, Department of Psychology
  • 2012: University of Siena - Ph.D., Cognitive Science
  • 2008: University of Pisa - M.A., Philosophy, Decision Making and Philosophy of Science


Research Interests:

My research focuses on how children and adults actively search for information when making decisions, drawing causal inferences and solving categorization tasks. Search strategies, as any other kind of strategies, are not always effective, because their usefulness and performance depends on the characteristics of the problem presented. In this sense, I am interested in how adaptive children and adults’ search for information strategies are, how sensitive and responsive they are to the structure of the tasks. I am especially interested in how actively searching for information, being able to generate the information we are interested in and to focus on what we consider most relevant, can impact our learning, understanding and explanations.

Grants and awards

  • 2021: John Templeton Foundation, Virtual Research Network on the Development of Intellectual Humility, $30.000 (starting funds)
  • 2020: Volkswagen Foundation - Artificial Intelligence and the Society of the Future, “Towards a theory of curiosity,” €1.500.000 (of which €585.800 to Azzurra Ruggeri)
  • 2019: Innovation funds of Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, Leibniz - Institut für Evolutions- und Biodiversitätsforschung, project: “Center for Active Learning in Museums,” €15.500
  • 2018: DFG Focus Program: The active self (SPP 2134), project: “Climbing to yourself,” €350.000
  • 2013-2017: Research Fellowship, Marie Curie Actions International Outgoing Fellowships, $282.000 
  • 2014: Best Early Career Developmental Paper, AIP (Italian Psychological Association), $1.200

Selected Literature:

  • Meder, B., Wu, C., Schulz, E., & Ruggeri, A. (in press) Development of directed and random exploration in children. Developmental Science.
  • Jones, A., Markant, D., Gopnik, A., Pachur, T., & Ruggeri, A. (in press) Developmental differences in active causal learning across preschool age reveal different hypothesis-space structures. Developmental Psychology.
  • Ruggeri, A., Swaboda, N., Sim, Z. L., & Gopnik, A. (2019). Shake it baby, but only when needed: Preschoolers adapt their exploratory strategies to the information structure of the task. Cognition193:104013. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2019.104013
  • Ruggeri, A.,Markant, D., Gureckis, T., Bretzke, M., & Xu, F. (2019) Memory enhancements from active control of learning emerge across development.Cognition,186, 82-94.doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2019.01.010
  • Ruggeri, A.,Sim, Z. L.,&Xu, F. (2017)."Why is Toma late to school again?" Preschoolers identify the most informative questions.Developmental Psychology,53(9), 1620-1632.doi: 10.1037/dev0000340.
  • Ruggeri, A.,Lombrozo, T., Griffiths, T. L., & Xu, F. (2016) Sources of developmental change in the efficiency of information search.Developmental Psychology,52(12), 2159-2173.doi: 10.1037/dev0000240
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