Department welcomes new faculty member Tamar Kushnir


It is with great enthusiasm that the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience welcomes Tamar Kushnir, PhD as a new member of its faculty. In a message to the community, department chair Scott Huettell stated: "Dr. Kushnir is a leading scholar of cognitive development whose work has sparked fundamental insights in causal learning, statistical sampling, prosocial behavior, and many other topics. She is an also an accomplished mentor and an enthusiastic teacher – someone whose impact will be broadly felt throughout our department.

Kushnir, too, is excited about joining the Duke faculty and moving her family to Durham: "Moving to a new place is always an opportunity learn new things. This is perhaps what excites me most about moving to Durham and joining the faculty at Duke. I am looking forward to learning through new collaborations, exchanging ideas with Duke faculty and students, and immersing myself in the community and local culture.  My family is equally excited to have a fresh start, especially after such a hard year. Of course, I'm also looking forward to year-round warm weather running!"

Kushnir received her M.A. in Statistics and Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, and was a Post-Doctoral fellow at the University of Michigan. Specifically, her research examines learning and conceptual change in young children with a focus on social learning and social cognition.  Kushnir’s work is motivated by a long-standing curiosity about the developing mind, and in particular by how children learn about themselves and others from actively exploring the world around them.  Research topics include: mechanisms of causal learning, the developmental origins of our beliefs in free will and agency, cultural influences on early social and moral beliefs, normative reasoning, and epistemic trust, and the role of imagination in social cognition, motivation and decision making. 

Kushnir has served as an associate editor at Child Development and Cognitive Science, and currently serves on the boards of the Society of Philosophy and Psychology and the Cognitive Development Society.