I graduated with a BSc degree from Queen’s School of Psychology back in July 2006. In December 2012, I graduated with a MA degree (with distinction) in Cognitive Science from Queen’s School of History, Anthropology & Philosophy. I am currently in the writing year of a research Ph.D. at Queen’s Institute of Cognition & Culture (ICC).
The title of my Ph.D. thesis is, ‘The Ontogeny of Human Deontic Competence’. My doctoral research has focused exclusively on the emergence and development of human deontic reasoning. I have conducted six experimental investigations to date, four of which have been with preschool and primary school children. The remaining two investigations have focused on adult deontic reasoning, the aim being to compare the emerging and developing deontic reasoning capacities of children with that of adults to identify potential developmental patterns or dissimilarities. More specifically, my doctoral research can be deconstructed into two primary parts: (1) the first part focused exclusively on the early acquisition and development of deontic concepts and their logical interrelations. To achieve this, I designed original deontic reasoning tasks derived from the ‘Deontic Hexagon of Logical Relations’ (Sousa, 2014; unpublished work). Three sets of tasks were devised, that is, one set for 3- and 4-year olds, one set for 5- and 6-year olds, and a third set for adults; (2) the second part of my research focused exclusively on the development of deontic conditional reasoning, and the types of deontic inferences that such reasoning affords under varying conditions. To achieve this, I employed twelve deontic inference tasks, an evaluation task, and a reformulation task. These deontic conditional reasoning tasks were initially formulated by Beller (2008). Once more, three sets of tasks were devised, that is, one set for 5- and 6-year olds, one set for 7- and 8-year olds, and a third set for adults. Note, however, that children were only tested on eight of Beller’s twelve deontic inference tasks.
I have numerous research interests, including (but not limited to) the emergence and development of deontic reasoning, domain generality vs. domain specificity, evolved cognitive algorithms, logic and conditional reasoning, mental models, modularity, norm acquisition, norm psychology, theory-of-mind reasoning, and the development of thinking and reasoning more broadly conceived.