My research focuses on the development and consequences of social learning in early childhood. Specifically, I explore the nuanced interplay between two critical components of early learning: the capacity to learn important information about the world by making inductive inferences on the basis of limited evidence, and the ability to flexibly and selectively learn from others. By investigating this interplay across several important areas of learning—causal reasoning, inductive generalization, categorization, and normative judgment—as well as over the course of development, I hope to generate broad conclusions about how early cognitive development is fundamentally shaped both by the social context in which it occurs, and by children’s developing social cognitive capacities. 
Prior to coming UMD I completed a A.B. in Psychology from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in Psychology from Stanford University. I also spent 2 years in Leipzig, Germany as an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 


  • PhD
    Psychology, Stanford University, 2012
  • MA
    Psychology, Stanford University, 2009
  • AB
    Psychology, Harvard University, 2005
Research Methods
Social Cognition
Research Interests
Social Cognition
Cognitive Development
Theory of Mind
Dr. Lucas Butler
3304 Benjamin Building
Neuroscience and Cognitive Science
lpbutler [at]