Kimberly Wright Cassidy

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President and Professor of Psychology
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania


Phone: 610-526-7383


Please send any questions or comments to Kimberly Wright Cassidy.

Kimberly Wright Cassidy is a developmental psychologist with a focus on cognition. Currently her research projects include:


Desire Understanding : In order to make sense of the behavior of others, children must understand that others have desires and that these desires may be different from the children's own desires. In our lab we are studying what preschool children and toddlers understand about the desires of others. Currently our projects include investigations of toddlers' understanding of conflicting desires, and preschool children's understanding of wicked desires (desires for things that are intrinsically bad) and normative desires (what most people like/want). In addition, we are studying desire understanding in children with Pervasive Developmental Disorders.


Theory of Mind and Aggression: Some theories of the cause of aggression suggest that aggression occurs because children engage in faulty social information processing. That is, children aggress because they fail to reason accurately or reflectively about the intentions of others, fail to generate appropriate strategies to respond to others and/or fail to choose adaptively among response choices. Currently we are investigating the relationship between theory of mind, social information processing and aggression in preschool children.


Name Phonology and the Activation of Gender Stereotypes : Male and female names differ according to a variety of phonological features. For example, female names tend to be more likely to end in a schwa sound (Carl vs. Carla). Given the many phonological differences between male and female names, some names are much more typical of their gender (in terms of their sound properties) than others. With a grant from the National Institute of Health, we are investigating the role of name phonology in the activation people's gender stereotypes and the affect of name phonology on people's perceptions of others.

Representative Publications :


Werner, R. S., Cassidy, K. W. & Juliano, M. (in press). The role of social-cognitive abilities in preschoolers' aggressive behavior. British Journal of Developmental Psychology.


Cassidy, K. W., Adamek-Griggs, R., Cosetti, M., Meier, V., Kelton, E., Richman, L., Stanhaus, H. (2005). Preschool children's understanding of conflicting desires. Journal of Cognition and Development , 6 , 427-454.


Cassidy, K. W., Fineberg, D., Brown, K. & Perkins, A. (2005) Theory of mind may be contagious, but you don't catch it from your twin. Child Development , 76 , 97-106.


Gleitman, L. R., Cassidy, K. W., Nappa, B., Papafragou, A. & Trueswell, J. C. (2005) Hard words. Language Learning and Development , 1 , 23-64.


Cassidy, K. W., Werner, R. S., Rourke, M., Zubernis, L. S. & Balaraman, G. (2003). The relationship between psychological understanding and positive social behavior. Social Development, 12 , 198-221.


Cassidy, K. W., Kelly, M. H. & Sharoni, L. J. (1999). Inferring gender from name phonology. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General , 128 , 1-20.


Cassidy, K. W. (1998). Are three-year-old children desire theorists? Cognition , 66 , B1-B11.


Cassidy, K. W. (1998). Preschoolers' use of desires to solve theory of mind problems. Developmental Psychology , 34 , 503-511.


Cassidy, K. W., Ball, L. V., Rourke, M. T., Werner, R. S., Feeny, N., Chu, J. Y., Lutz, D. J. & Perkins, A. (1998). Theory of mind concepts in children's literature. Applied Psycholinguistics , 19 , 463-470.