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Culture and Development

Culture permeates many, if not all, aspects of our life and cultural practices—beliefs and expectations—closely guide how caregivers attend to their children to promote their development.

Our lab examines social and cultural factors that shape infant development. Specifically, we examine how cultural beliefs and practices in and outside of the U.S. shape infants’ daily experiences, which in turn affect when infants acquire skills—manipulating objects, sitting, crawling, and walking—and how those skills change infants’ interactions and learning from their environment. To answer these questions, we collect data from caregivers using surveys, interviews, and observational measures and test infants in standard tasks and naturalistic assessments. While experiments allow us to test whether enhanced practice alters skills, our cross-cultural work serves as a “natural” experiment to address questions about effects of restricted experience. We conduct our studies in the lab and in family’s homes, in the U.S. and abroad.


Hi, I’m Dr. Lana Karasik. I’m a professor in the Psychology Department at the College of Staten Island and the Graduate Center, CUNY. I also direct the Culture & Development Lab. I study infant motor development—how infants move and explore. Mostly, I’m interested in cultural similarities and differences in how infants develop because cultural practices place different expectations on children’s skills and behaviors. To conduct my cross-cultural work, I foster collaborations with researchers and students around the U.S. and abroad.

Take a look at the rest of the site to learn more about our work. Get in touch if you’re a student looking for research opportunities, or if you’re a parent and would like to sign up for a study! We’re delighted to hear from you!

Team Karasik at an event in Tajikistan to raise awareness of children with disabilities. Dancing with U.S. Ambassador to Tajikistan, Susan M. Elliot. Credit: Scott Robinson
Lunch after presenting the project to the Ministry of Health of Tajikistan. From left to right: Dr. Nabiev, Dr. Scott Robinson, Dr. Karasik, and Dr. Bobokhodjaeva. Credit: Rano Dodojonova
During a January 2019 trip to Tajikistan, the team visited families in the mountainous region, Ayni. Top picture: Team dinner. Bottom picture: Team at our office in Dushanbe after a day of data collection. Credit: Rano Dodojonova, Scott Robinson
Group photo with a family after data collection. Credit: Scott Robinson

Recent News

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Just sharing some joy— Hadn’t been to my dept office in months (because COVID). Returned & found something unexpected: a mailbox over-flowing w/hundreds (!) of thank you cards/letters from students in my @coursera class + fans of #TheHappinessLabPod. Wow. #imnotcryingyourecrying

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Thanks for having me @PittTweet Psychology

Play is a primary environment for learning during toddler development. Fletcher, Cates, Mendelsohn & @TamisLeMondaNYU looked at the play of Mexican-American moms and toddlers and found that it was frequent, multimodal, and symbolically rich. #infancypapers https://t.co/jJkqOHPM7I