Learning Social Rules

Child-like Drawing

This research project focuses on how children learn everyday rules for their behavior (like being nice, not hitting others, or saying ‘thank you’). Children learn these different social rules during the preschool years, and in this project, we are studying how this develops and what helps children learn. The results of this project will help parents and those who work with young children.

The research team is led by Dr. Judith Smetana of the Department of Psychology at the University of Rochester. The Study Coordinator is Courtney Ball, a doctoral student in developmental psychology. Dr. Smetana and her team have been studying children’s social development for over 30 years, and their work is internationally known. Dr. Smetana has been interviewed on National Public Radio, and her work has been cited in the New York Times, Parenting magazine, and numerous other sources.

We are inviting mothers and their 2 year old or 4 year old children to visit the University of Rochester (River Campus) for a 45-minute session, scheduled at your convenience. Mothers will fill out surveys while children participate in some fun tasks.

We will provide free parking and $10 as a thank-you for your participation.

Please click on Frequently Asked Questions for more information about this project or contact us:

Dr. Judith Smetana
(585) 275-4592
Courtney Ball
(585) 276-5275

To Enroll in this Project: Click on and complete the Interest Form. We will contact you to schedule your session.Remember, your and your child’s responses are confidential. In our experience, mothers and children enjoy the sessions. We hope to hear from you soon!

Click here for Information regarding parking at the University of Rochester. 

Click here for the Parental Permission form, to be signed at your visit.