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Henry M. Wellman, Ph.D.

  • Harold W. Stevenson Collegiate Professor of Psychology
  • Research Professor, CHGD
  • 1039EC North Ingalls Building
    300 N. Ingalls

  • hmw@umich.edu

Profile

Dr. Henry Wellman is a developmental psychologist specializing in cognitive development. His research focuses on core cognitive domains. Such domains, like the child’s understanding of language or space, are rapidly acquired cognitive structures that frame and encourage further developments. Much of his current research focuses on the child’s developing core understanding of people or “theory of mind.” This term refers to our everyday understanding of persons in terms of their inner psychological states and processes. We see an actor’s external behaviors, for example, as a product of his or her internal beliefs, desires, emotions, and intentions.

When and how do children acquire an everyday theory of mind, the basic bedrock for our common understanding of self and others? Wellman’s research focuses on this question in children from infancy to adulthood, growing up in this and other cultures, as well as those with delayed development (such as children with autism and deafness). His research is cognitive and cultural–he researches the differing conceptions of persons acquired by children growing up in different cultural communities, and very basic social conceptions in infants and young preschoolers, that allow cultural learning to occur in the first place.

Dr. Wellman received a MERIT Award from NICHD in 2005, and the G. Stanley Hall Award from the American Psychological Association in 2012 for his work on child’s theory of mind.

Infant Cognition Project Lab

Department of Psychology Faculty Page