Early Cognitive Development Centre
School of Psychology
University of Queensland, Australia
Brisbane, QLD 4072
B.A. (Sarah Lawrence College, New York)
Ph.D. (University of California, Berkeley)
Graduate Certificate in Higher Education (University of Queensland)
Moved to Queensland in 1996. Australian and US citizenship.
Three children: Katie, 19; Rorie, 16; Brian, 10.
Member, Fellowship Fund Incorporated, branch of Graduate Women Queensland. This organisation grants scholarships to women pursuing postgraduate studies (http://fellowshipsfund.com.au/).
Fellow, Association for Psychological Science
Australian Award for University Teaching in the category Teaching Large First Year Classes
University of Queensland Foundation Research Excellence Award
University of Queensland Teaching Excellence Award
Australian Psychological Society Early Career Research Excellence Award
It is remarkable how quickly human beings learn to negotiate the social environment into which they are born. Infants’ interpersonal skills, including mutual gaze and imitation, are effective enough to inspire caregivers to attend to their every need. Toddlers already recognise that other people are sentient entities whose minds contain unique perspectives on the world. Moving into childhood, social understanding becomes increasingly complex as it is intertwined with language and cultural practices and applies to larger and more diverse groups of people. My research documents these developmental stages and explores how biological factors and everyday experiences contribute to children’s learning in this domain.
Some current projects:
Do theory of mind delays explain children’s social problems? (ARC Discovery Project; Slaughter, Peterson, de Rosnay, Wellman & Begeer)
Yours and mine: development of the concept of ownership in typical children and those on the autism spectrum (ARC Discovery Project; Kritikos, Slaughter, Sofronoff & Bayliss)
Charting the prevalence, time course and social-cognitive correlates of neonatal imitation (ARC Discovery Project; Slaughter, Nielsen & Suddendorf)
Mothers’ and their children’s health study: Understanding disparities in health and health service utilisation among Australian families. (NHMRC Project; Mishra, Davies, Dobson, Slaughter, Loxton, Hesketh, Tooth & Koupil)
Infants' discrimination of correct from incorrect counting
Lillienfeld, S., Lynn, S., Namy, L., Woolf, N., Jamieson, G., Marks, A., & Slaughter, V. (2014). Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding: Australian Edition, Second edition. Pearson Education: Melbourne, Australia.
Slaughter, V. & Brownell, C. (Eds.) (2011). Early Development of Body Representations. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press; Cambridge Studies in Cognitive and Perceptual Development.
Lillienfeld, S., Lynn, S, Namy, L., Woolf, N., Jamieson, G., Haslam, N. & Slaughter, V. (2011). Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding: Australian Edition. Pearson Education.
Slaughter, V. & Heron, M. (2004). Origins and early development of human body knowledge. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development. Serial number 276, 69(2).
Repacholi, B. & Slaughter, V. (Eds.) (2003). Individual Differences in Theory of Mind: Implications for Typical and Atypical Development. Hove: Psychology Press.
Slaughter, V. & Peterson, C. (2012). How conversational input shapes theory of mind development in infancy and early childhood. In M. Siegal and L. Surian (Eds.)Access to Language and Cognitive Development(pp. 3 - 22). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Slaughter, V., Heron-Delaney, M., & Christie, T. (2011). Developing expertise in human body perception. In V. Slaughter & C. Brownell (Eds.) Early Development of Body Representations (pp. 81-100). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press; Cambridge Studies in Cognitive and Perceptual Development.
Slaughter, V. (2011). Development of social cognition. In D. Skuse, H. Bruce, L. Dowdney & D. Mrazek (Eds.) Child Psychology and Psychiatry - Frameworks for Practice (pp. 51-55). London: Wiley Blackwell.
Slaughter, V. (2011). Early adoption of Machiavellian attitudes: Implications for children’s interpersonal relationships. In T. Barry, C., P. Kerig, & K. Stellwagen (Eds.) Narcissism and Machiavellianism in youth: Implications for the Development of Adaptive and Maladaptive Behavior (pp. 177-192). Washington, DC: APA Books.
Nielsen, M. & Slaughter, V. (2007). Multiple motivations for imitation in infancy. In K. Dautenhahn & C. L. Nehaniv (Eds.) Models and Mechanisms of Imitation and Social Learning in Robots, Humans and Animals: Behavioural, Social and Communicative Dimensions (pp. 343 – 360). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Slaughter, V. & Repacholi, B. (2003). Individual differences in theory of mind: What are we investigating? In B. Repacholi & V. Slaughter (Eds.) Individual Differences in Theory of Mind: Implications for Typical and Atypical Development (pp. 1 –12). Hove: Psychology Press.
Repacholi, B., Slaughter, V., Pritchard, M. & Gibbs, V. (2003). Theory of mind, Machiavellianism and social functioning in childhood. In B. Repacholi & V. Slaughter (Eds.) Individual Differences in Theory of Mind: Implications for Typical and Atypical Development (pp. 67 – 98). Hove: Psychology Press.
Slaughter, V., Jaakkola, R. & Carey, S. (1999). Constructing a coherent theory: Children’s biological understanding of life and death. In M. Siegal & C. Peterson (Eds.) Children’s Understanding of Biology and Health (pp. 71 – 98). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gopnik, A., Slaughter, V. & Meltzoff, A. (1994). Changing your views: How understanding visual perception can lead to a new theory of mind. In C. Lewis & P. Mitchell (Eds.) Children's Early Understanding of Mind: Origins and Development (pp. 157-181). Hilsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Slaughter, V. (in press).Theory of mind in infants and young children. Australian Psychologist.
O’Haire, M., McKenzie, S., Beck, A., & Slaughter, V. (in press). Animals may act as social buffers: Skin conductance arousal in children with autism spectrum disorder in a social context. Developmental Psychobiology.
Fink, E., Begeer, S., Peterson, C., Slaughter, V., & De Rosnay, M. (in press) Friendlessness and theory of mind: A prospective longitudinal study. British Journal of Developmental Psychology
Schneider, D., Slaughter, V., & Dux, P. (in press). What do we know about implicit false-belief tracking? Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.
Slaughter, V., & Perez-Zapata, D. (2014). Cultural variations in the development of mindreading. Child Development Perspectives, 8, 237–241.
Slaughter, V. & Ong. S. S. (2014). Social behaviours increase more when children with ASD are imitated by their mothers versus an unfamiliar adult. Autism Research, 7, 582–589.
Shahaeian, A., Nielsen, M., Peterson, C., Aboutalebi , M., & Slaughter, V. (2014). Knowledge and belief understanding among Iranian and Australian preschool children. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 45, 1643–1654.
Shahaeian, A., Nielsen, M., Peterson, C., & Slaughter, V. (2014). Iranian mothers’ disciplinary strategies and theory of mind in children: A focus on belief understanding. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 45, 1110-1123.
Schneider, D., Slaughter, V., Becker, S., & Dux, P. (2014). Implicit false-belief processing in the human brain. NeuroImage, 101, 268-275.
Shahaeian, A., Nielsen, M., Peterson, C., & Slaughter, V. (2014). Cultural and family influences on children’s theory of mind development: A comparison of Australian and Iranian school-age children. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 45, 555-568.
De Rosnay, M., Fink, E., Begeer, S., Slaughter, V., & Peterson, C. (2014). Talking theory of mind talk: Young school-aged children’s everyday conversation and understanding of mind and emotion. Journal of Child Language, 41, 1179-1193.
O’Haire, M., McKenzie, S., & McCune, S., & Slaughter, V. (2014). Effects of a classroom-based animal-assisted intervention on social functioning in children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 20, 162-168.
Oostenbroek, J., Slaughter, V., Nielsen, M. & Suddendorf, T. (2013). Why the confusion around neonatal imitation? Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 31, 328-341.
Fink, E., De Rosnay, M., Peterson, C., & Slaughter, V. (2013). Validation of the Peer Social Maturity Scale for assessing children's social skills. Infant and Child Development, 22, 539-552.
Erlich, N., Slaughter, V., & Lipp, O. (2013). Of hissing snakes and angry voices: Human infants demonstrate differential responsiveness to evolutionary fear-relevant sounds. Developmental Science, 16, 894-904.
Kuntoro, I., Saraswati, L., Peterson, C. & Slaughter, V. (2013). Micro-cultural influences on theory of mind development: A comparative study of middle-class and pemulung children in Jakarta, Indonesia. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 37, 266-273.
Schneider, D., Slaughter, V., Bayliss, A. & Dux, P. (2013). A temporally sustained implicit theory of mind deficit in Autism Spectrum Disorders. Cognition, 129, 410-417.
O’Haire, M. E., McKenzie, S. J., McCune, S., & Slaughter, V. (2013). Effects of animal-assisted activities with guinea pigs in the primary school classroom. Anthrozoös: A MultidisciplinaryJournal of the Interactions of People and Animals, 26, 445-458.
Guzzetta, A., Boyd, R., Perez, M., Zivani, J., Burzi, V., Slaughter, V., et al. (2013). UP-BEAT (Upper Limb Baby Early Action-observation Training) – Two parallel randomised controlled trials of action observation training for typically developing infants and infants with asymmetric brain lesions. BMJ Open, 14, 3(2). pii: e002512. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2012-002512.
O’Haire, M., McKenzie, S., & Beck, A., & Slaughter, V. (2013). Social behaviors increase in children with autism in the presence of animals compared to toys. PLoS ONE 8(2): e57010. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0057010.
Peterson, C., Slaughter, V., Peterson, J., & Premack, D. (2013). Children with autism can track others’ beliefs in a competitive game. Developmental Science, 16, 443-450.
Nielsen, M., Slaughter, V., & Dissanayake, C. (2013). Object directed imitation in high-functioning autistic children: Testing the social motivation hypothesis. Autism Research, 6, 23-32.
Slaughter, V., Peterson, C., & Moore, C. (2013). I can talk you into it: Theory of mind and persuasion behaviour in young children. Developmental Psychology, 49, 227-231.
Suddendorf, T., Oostenbroek, J., Nielsen, M., & Slaughter, V. (2013). Is newborn imitation developmentally homologous to later social-cognitive skills? Developmental Psychobiology, 55, 52-58.
Morita, T., Slaughter, V., Katayama, N., Kitazaki, M., & Itakura, S. (2012). Infants’ and adults’ perception of possible and impossible body movements: An eye-tracking study. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 113, 401-414.
Peterson, C., Wellman, H., & Slaughter, V. (2012). The mind behind the message: Advancing theory of mind scales for typically developing children, and those with deafness, autism, or Asperger Syndrome. Child Development, 83, 469-485.
Slaughter, V. (2011). Human body perception and higher-level person perception are dissociated in early development. Cognitive Neuroscience, 2, 206-207.
Shahaeian, A., Peterson, C., Slaughter, V., & Wellman, H. (2011). Culture and the sequence of steps in theory of mind development. Developmental Psychology, 47, 1239-1247.
Slaughter, V., Itakura, S., Kutsuki, A. & Siegal, M. (2011). Learning to count begins in infancy: Evidence from 18-month-olds’ visual preferences. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 278, 2979-2984.
Slaughter, V. & Neary, P. (2011). Do young infants respond socially to human hands? Infant Behavior and Development, 34, 374–377.
O’Brien, K., Slaughter, V., & Peterson, C. (2011). Sibling influences on theory of mind development for children with ASD. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 52, 713-719.
Brown, F. & Slaughter, V. (2011). Normal body, beautiful body: Discrepant perceptions reveal a pervasive ‘thin ideal’ in childhood. Body Image, 8, 119-125.
Slaughter, V. & Heron-Delaney, M. (2011). When do infants expect hands to be connected to a person? Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 108, 220-227.
Slaughter, V. & Ting, C. (2010). Development of ideas about food and nutrition from preschool to university. Appetite, 55, 556-564.
Ramm, B., Cummins, T., & Slaughter, V. (2010). Specifying the human body configuration. Visual Cognition, 18, 898–919.
Christie, T., & Slaughter, V. (2010). Movement facilitates infants’ recognition of the whole human form. Cognition, 114, 329–337.
Heron, M. & Slaughter, V. (2010). Infants’ responses to real humans and representations of humans. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 34, 34-45.
Slaughter, V., Peterson, C., & Carpenter, M. (2009). Maternal mental state talk and infants’ early gestural communication. Journal of Child Language, 36, 1053-1074.
Peterson, C. & Slaughter, V. (2009). Eye reading and false belief understanding in children with autism, deafness or typical development. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 3, 462-473.
Christie, T., & Slaughter, V. (2009). Exploring links between sensori-motor and visuo-spatial body representations in infancy. Developmental Neuropsychology, 34, 448-460.
Hudry, K. & Slaughter, V. (2009). Agent familiarity and emotional context influence the everyday empathic responding of young children with autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 3, 74-85.
Slaughter, V., Peterson, C., & Carpenter, M. (2008). Maternal talk about mental states and the emergence of joint visual attention. Infancy, 13, 640–659.
Heron, M., & Slaughter, V. (2008). Toddlers’ categorization of typical and scrambled dolls and cars. Infant Behavior and Development, 31, 374-385.
Lim, H., & Slaughter, V. (2008). Brief report: Human figure drawings in children with Asperger’s Syndrome. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 38, 988–994.
Slaughter, V., Nielsen, M., & Enchelmaier, P. (2008). Interacting socially with human hands at 24 months of age. Infancy, 13, 1-11.
Peterson, C., Slaughter, V., & Paynter, J. (2007). Social maturity and theory of mind in typically developing children and those on the autism spectrum. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 48, 1243-1250.
Slaughter, V. & Griffiths, M. (2007). Death understanding and fear of death in young children. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 12, 525-535.
Slaughter, V., & Suddendorf, T. (2007). Participant loss due to “fussiness” in infant visual paradigms: A review of the last 20 years. Infant Behavior and Development, 30, 505-514.
Slaughter, V., Peterson, C., & Mackintosh, E. (2007). Mind what mother says: Narrative input and theory of mind in typical children and those on the autism spectrum. Child Development, 78, 839-858.
Christie, T., & Slaughter, V. (2007). Early development of body representations. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 30, 203-204.
Slaughter, V., & Corbett, D. (2007). Differential copying of human and non-human models at 12 and 18 months of age. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 4, 31-35. Special Issue on Social Cognition During Infancy. Reprinted in V. Reid, T. Striano, & W. Koops (Eds.), Social Cognition During Infancy (pp. 31 – 46). Hove: Psychology Press.
Peterson, C. & Slaughter, V. (2006). Telling the story of ToM: Deaf and hearing children's narratives and false belief understanding. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 24, 151-179.
Nielsen, M., Suddendorf, T., & Slaughter, V. (2006). Mirror self-recognition beyond the face. Child Development, 77, 176-185.
Slaughter, V., Kamppi, D., & Paynter, J. (2006). Toddler subtraction with large sets: Further evidence for an analog-magnitude representation of number. Developmental Science, 9, 33-39.
Slaughter, V. (2005). Young children’s understanding of death, Australian Psychologist. 40, 179-186.
Symons, D., Peterson, C., Slaughter, V., Doyle E., & Roche, J. (2005). Theory of mind and mental state discourse during book reading and story-telling tasks. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 23, 81-102.
Slaughter, V., Stone, V. & Reed, C. (2004). Perception of faces and bodies: Similar or different? Current Directions in Psychological Science. 13, 219-223.
Slaughter, V. (2004). Emulator as body schema. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 27, 415-416.
Connolly, J., Slaughter, V. & Mealey, L. (2004). The development of preferences for specific body shapes. Journal of Sex Research, 41, 5-15.
Peterson, C., & Slaughter, V. (2003). Opening windows into the mind: Mothers’ preferences for mental state explanations and children’s theory of mind. Cognitive Development, 18, 399-429.
Slaughter, V., & McConnell, D. (2003). Emergence of joint attention: Relationships between gaze-following, social referencing, imitation and naming in infancy. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 164, 54-73.
Slaughter, V., & Lyons, M. (2003). Learning about life and death in early childhood. Cognitive Psychology, 43, 1-30.
Slaughter, V., Dennis, M. & Pritchard, M. (2002). Theory of mind and peer acceptance in preschoolers. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 20, 545-564.
Jaakkola, K., & Slaughter, V. (2002). Children’s body knowledge: Understanding “life” as a biological goal. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 20, 325-342.
Slaughter, V., Heron, M., & Sim, S. (2002). Development of preferences for the human body shape in infancy. Cognition, 85, B71-B81.
Slaughter, V., & Boh, W. (2001). Decalage in infants’ search for mothers versus toys demonstrated with a delayed response task. Infancy, 2, 405-413.
Connolly, J., Mealey, L., & Slaughter, V. (2000). The development of waist-to-hip ratio preferences. Perspectives in Human Biology, 5, 19-29.
Waters, L., Siegal, M., & Slaughter, V. (2000). Development of inductive reasoning and the tension between scientific and conversational inference. Social Development, 9, 383-396.
Slaughter, V., & Mealey, L. (1998). Seeing is not (necessarily) believing. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 25, 130.
Johnson, S., Slaughter, V., & Carey, S. (1998). Whose gaze will infants follow? The elicitation of gaze-following in 12-month-olds. Developmental Science, 1, 233-238.
Slaughter, V. (1998). Children’s understanding of pictorial and mental representations. Child Development, 69, 321-332.
Slaughter, V., & Gopnik, A. (1996). Conceptual coherence in the child's theory of mind: Training children to understand belief. Child Development, 67, 2967-2988.
Gopnik, A., & Slaughter, V. (1991). Young children's understanding of changes in their mental states. Child Development, 62, 98-110.
Note: Coordinator roles prior to 2009 and tutor roles prior to 2006 are not included.
General areas of interest: cognitive development in infancy and early childhood; theory of mind and early social development; development of knowledge about the human body; development of biological concepts; early numerical knowledge.
My preference is to negotiate with students about the project they wish to undertake in Honours. We normally spend the first few weeks discussing mutual interests, before settling on a topic.
Most of my Honours students do developmental research, recruiting and testing infants and/or children through the Early Cognitive Development Centre or via local daycare centres and schools. Contrary to rumour, it is not especially difficult or otherwise disadvantagous to carry out a developmental project, as we have excellent systems in place to ensure that students can recruit a good-sized sample within the Honours timeframe.