All about cog­ni­tion and work­ing with teenagers

Gabe Chier­chia, UCL


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Our research focus­es on social, cog­ni­tive and affec­tive devel­op­ment dur­ing ado­les­cence. For exam­ple, we inves­ti­gate how age mod­u­lates sus­cep­ti­bil­i­ty to social and peer influ­ence, train­ing of dif­fer­ent cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties, and men­tal health. This typ­i­cal­ly involves com­par­ing large groups of peo­ple of dif­fer­ent ages, such as ado­les­cents and young adults. In addi­tion, these groups must also be eval­u­at­ed for basic cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties such as non-ver­bal rea­son­ing, which are also known to change with age and thus need to be con­trolled for inde­pen­dent of the task of inter­est. Some of the chal­lenges this research faces are that 1) copy­right issues of well-val­i­dat­ed non-ver­bal rea­son­ing tasks fre­quent­ly pre­vent these from being com­put­er­ized and this lim­its their use­ful­ness in a num­ber of set­tings; 2) recruit­ing and test­ing large sam­ples of ado­les­cents in their schools; and 3) allow­ing plau­si­bil­i­ty of exper­i­ments involv­ing social inter­ac­tion. I will present the Matrix Rea­son­ing Item Bank (or MaRs-IB). This is a nov­el item bank we devel­oped that is now online (Goril­la open mate­ri­als), and free to use for non-com­mer­cial pur­pos­es. I’ll show how the MaRs-IB is sen­si­tive to age dif­fer­ences in non-ver­bal rea­son­ing accu­ra­cy and, rel­a­tive to its pen-and-paper ana­logues, it fur­ther allows cap­tur­ing poten­tial speed-accu­ra­cy trade-offs in rea­son­ing. I will also dis­cuss how online/on-site test­ing has great­ly helped mak­ing recruit­ment and test­ing more effi­cient and social exper­i­ments more plau­si­ble to the participants.

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