Bulletin of the Centre for
Research in Human Development


Volume 5, Issue 3, Fall 2012 PDF Download Download this issue

The multi-disciplinary focus of the CRDH

Resolving our differences: Qualitative and quantitative research methods
By Christopher Cardoso and Matthew T. Keough

Crossing Borders - die Überfahrt von Grenzen
By Shireen Abuhatoum

Highlights of Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary Workshop
By Kierla Ireland

CRDH welcomes new Post-doctoral fellow
By Jackie Legacy

The trainee poster session reflects CRDH's diversity
By Melanie Mulligan-Pittarelli

Spotlight on Success
By Rami Nijjar

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dialogue-CRDH is a periodical web bulletin produced by the Centre for Research in Human Development.



CRDH Welcomes New Post-Doctoral Fellow

By Jackie Legacy

Dr. Souza

Dr. Andre Souza, CRDH’s new Post-Doctoral Fellow


We all have certain beliefs that help us to make sense of the world around us.  But how do we develop these beliefs and what makes us more inclined to believe certain sources of information over others?  This is the focus of newcomer Dr. Andre Souza’s post-doctoral research.

Dr. Souza, originally from Belo Horizonte, Brazil, joined CRDH this fall as a post-doctoral fellow and will be collaborating with Drs. Diane Poulin-Dubois and Krista Byers-Heinlein.  After completing his B.A. in linguistics and M.A. in psychology from the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil, Dr. Souza pursued doctoral studies in Cognitive Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin; where, in collaboration with Dr. Cristine Legare, he studied the ways in which human belief systems can be understood.  As part of this research, Dr. Souza investigated how the efficacy of ritualistic actions (i.e., religious or non-religious sets of actions performed for their symbolic value) is evaluated, and found that a number of cognitive criteria (e.g. repetition, greater number of procedural steps, procedural specificity, etc.) come into play when evaluating actions that do not have an explicit causal relationship with their outcomes.  He also suggests that rituals may actually provide a mechanism for reestablishing feelings of control in situations of uncertainty.  Evidence for this interpretation comes from findings that priming a lack of control in participants, regardless of baseline levels of chronic uncertainty, tends to increase our evaluation of the efficacy of ritualistic actions.  Furthermore, Dr. Souza has carried out his work on human belief systems across different cultures (North America and Brazil), and hypothesizes that our evaluations of the efficacy of ritualistic actions generally stem from intuitive causal principles and not familiarity with the ritualistic content.

Recently, he has expanded his research on human belief systems to look at how individuals appraise both expert and consensual information when the two are in conflict.  One such study involved analyzing adults’ interpretations of consumer reviews, while another looked at how expert and consensual information affected individuals’ perceptions of the efficacy of religious healers in Brazil; a culture where religious healers are often consulted for a variety of everyday problems.  The results of both of these studies suggest that while consensual information and expert testimony each have a unique effect on our beliefs about the efficacy of an object or ritual, expert testimony appears to override consensual information when the two are in conflict. 

After finishing his doctoral work in Texas, Dr. Souza decided to move to Montreal.  When asked why he decided to continue his research abroad, and what his experience of settling into Montreal has been like, Dr. Souza responded by stating that his main motivation to come to Montreal has to do with “the invaluable possibility of bringing different expertise to the same research agenda”.  He also stated that settling into a new country is both challenging and rewarding in that while it takes time figure out a new environment, it also “increases your cognitive flexibility and widens the way you see the world”.

As Dr. Souza settles into Montreal, he prepares to draw on relevant concepts from several different fields and theoretical frameworks to explore the developmental side of the human belief system.  During his time `here at CRDH, Dr. Souza will be working in collaboration with Dr. Diane Poulin-Dubois and Dr. Krista Byers-Heinlein to examine aspects of trust and language preference in young bilingual children.  Research in social psychology suggests that both children and adults trust and prefer to learn from others who are like themselves.  This finding has tremendous implications for language acquisition, especially in relation to individuals who are exposed to multiple languages from birth.  As a part of this research, Dr. Souza will be studying whether bilinguals show the same preference as monolinguals for someone who speaks one of their native languages.  Dr. Souza and his collaborators will also be expanding this research to investigate how perceptual and attentional biases thought to underlie language acquisition in infancy might differ from those that underlie second language acquisition. 

 As for Dr. Souza’s hopes for his time here at CRDH, he states, “As any scholar would hope, we want our results to have a positive impact in the field. We want them to contribute to what we already know about this line of research. The ultimate goal is, of course, to be able to understand more systematically the way our mind works and ways we can intervene, if necessary, in the process of cognitive and language development.”



CRDH is funded by the Programme des regroupements stratégiques


Kiran Vadaga

Associate Editors
Rami Nijjar
Shireen Abuhatoum


Christopher Cardoso
Jackie Legacy
Kierla Ireland
Matthew T. Keough
Melanie Mulligan-Pittarelli


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KAI Design & Communication

French Translation

Concordia, UQAM, McGill, U de Laval, UQTR, U de Montreal

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