Alison Gopnik

Job title: 
Department of Psychology

Alison Gopnik is a professor in the Department of Psychology, an expert in child development, and author of several popular books including The Scientist in the Crib, The Philosophical Baby, and The Gardener and the Carpenter. Professor Gopnik was raised in Montreal and obtained her bachelor's degree from McGill University and her Ph.D. at Oxford. She joined the Berkeley faculty in 1988 after teaching at the University of Toronto.

Professor Gopnik's research explores how young children come to know about the world around them. The work is informed by the "theory theory" - the idea that children develop and change intuitive theories of the world in much the way that scientists do. Most recently, she has concentrated on young children's causal knowledge and causal learning across domains, including physical, biological and psychological knowledge. In collaboration with computer scientists, she uses the Bayes Net formalism to help explain how children are able to learn causal structure from patterns of data, and has demonstrated that young children have much more powerful causal learning mechanisms than was previously supposed.