My PhD focuses on the development of a minimal sense of commitment in young children. Commitment, as traditionally conceived by philosophers, involves a relatively high degree of cognitive sophistication; the agents involved in commitment-relations are usually assumed to possess notions of normativity, moral obligation, and mindreading, along with the ability to produce and understand speech acts of promising. Over the past decade a number of studies have emerged which suggest that young children are sensitive to certain cues and contexts which are relevantly commitment-like, prior to their being cognitively sophisticated enough to engage in full-blown commitment. I wish to understand what form this sense of commitment might take, what further social cognitive capacities it involves, and what factors might modulate that sense of commitment.
More broadly, I am interested in what motivates people to pursue and commit to goals, as well as habit formation and persistence. I am especially interested in the application of cognitive science to motivation and productivity in the workplace.
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