Fantasy Orientation: Measuring Individual Differences, Improving Imaginative Play, & Assessing Mechanisms of Cognitive Development
This research, funded by the Imagination Institute, will answer two important questions to propel research in childhood imagination: (1) How is children’s imagination best defined and measured, and (2) Can we stimulate imagination to enhance children’s development?
Dr. Ansley Gilpin is a developmental psychologist whose research centers on cognitive development in early childhood, specifically focusing on imagination, executive functions and conceptual development, as well as development of academic and socio-emotional skills. Her graduate training included mentorship by leaders in child cognitive development research, specifically in conceptual development. As an early investigator, she has spent the last six years establishing community relations in Alabama, and collecting developmental data from local preschools and elementary schools, including Head Start. She currently serves as a principal investigator with Dr. Jason DeCaro and Dr. Caroline Boxmeyer of a large, longitudinal grant from the Administration for Children and Families assessing a social-emotional intervention in Head Start. Specifically, she is investigating the potential mediation effect of executive functions on the intervention outcomes, and also investigating long-term intervention effects on cognitive development. She is currently a distinguished teaching fellow at the University of Alabama, and in 2015, this research team was recognized with an award for faculty excellence in community engagement from UA’s Center for Community-Based Partnerships.
Dr. Jason DeCaro is a psychological and medical anthropologist whose research focuses on linkages among social and cultural settings, physiology, and health-related behavior across the lifespan. His graduate training included mentorship by leaders in both autonomic and adrenocortical psychophysiology, including one of the originators of the Biological Sensitivity to Context (BSC) framework, and he now runs a lab that applies these measures to developmental research questions. He has published on cortisol and autonomic reactivity in children of preschool age, on the use of immunological markers to assess chronic stress, and on the role of maternal mental health and family ecology in child well-being. He currently serves as a principal investigator with Dr. Ansley Gilpin and Dr. Caroline Boxmeyer of a large, longitudinal grant from the Administration for Children and Families assessing a social-emotional intervention in Head Start. He also has received funding from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. In 2015, he was recognized with the University of Alabama President’s Faculty Research Award for the Social Science.