•••Current Neighborhood Preschool Studies•••

Hello Neighborhood Preschool families!

Thank you for participating in our studies! On this page you can find and read about the current studies we are running at NPS. This list is updated as studies are completed and new ones are added. You will also receive an e-mail through the NPS parent listserv when new studies are added. Please feel free to explore the rest of our website too!

Size Comparison Game

How do children compare the sizes of individual shapes, sets of things, and other kinds of sizes they can’t look at directly (like the size of “6” compared to the size of “10”)? In this study, we will use a simple game to find out how kids think about sizes. Children will be presented with a line with two items to be compared shown over the line (for example, a big circle and a small circle, or a tall rectangle and a short rectangle). Children will be told that the big circle gets one side of the line, and the small circle gets the other side. They will be asked to make a mark or adjust a sliding bar to help the two circles share the line, so that the big circle gets just enough, and the small circle gets just enough.

Space/Time Game

The goal of our study is to understand how children figure out relations that are common to both space and time. In many languages, common words can describe both space and time, like long for “a long meeting” or “a long snake.” For adults, these relations are so intuitive that many psychologists refer to a “space-time metaphor.” But how do children develop the idea that space and time are related? Is this simply a natural intuition — do children intuitively see a commonality between a “long” snake and a “long” trip to the zoo? Our short study has a training part and a testing part. In the training, we first teach children the meaning of a fake word like “blicket.” We show them a short and a long stick, and teach them that one of them is “blicket.” In the testing part, we present them with a buzzer, and ask them to play the buzzer “blicket” and “not blicket.” If children Ican transfer a spatial meaning of “blicket” (long stick) to a time meaning (long buzzer press), they should press the buzzer for a longer time only when we ask them to play it “blicket.” For other children, we will teach “blicket” on the buzzer and see if they can apply this meaning to the sticks. The results will show how children come to understand, as adults do, that length is a single abstract concept that can be used to talk about both space and time?


In this study, children will play three short games designed to determine a child’s conceptual understanding of numbers. First, in the Fastcards game, children will play a computer estimation game.  In the Give a Number game, children will be asked to put a certain number of objects into a bowl. Finally, the Which Has More game is played to determine if the child can distinguish between high and low number values. For example, five bears will be placed in one bucket and seven in another. The child will be shown the buckets and told “There are five bears in this bucket and seven bears in this bucket. Which bucket has more bears?” Children will be asked to compare quantities that are one step apart (e.g., 5 vs. 6), two steps apart (e.g., 5 vs. 7), and greater distances (e.g., 5 vs. 10). We hope to find out how young children understand the counting list and relationships between quantities.

Social Preferences

This study focuses on the early development of social preferences in friendships. It is well documented that humans have a preference for relatively attractive peers, and this preference is even considered to be an evolutionary trait. However, it seems to be common sense that one would prefer to be friends with a nice person rather than a mean person. What happens when these social cues are pitted against each other in real life? In this study, your child will see pictures of children who will sometimes vary in their level of attractiveness. They will hear stories about the children’s mean or nice behaviors. Your child will be asked questions about whom they would prefer to be friends with. Through this study, we hope to learn about young children’s social preferences and whether they are similar to those of adults.

Box Game

In this study we are looking at children’s ability to manipulate numbers even when they are not using “number words.” In the Box Game, your child will see a box with some balls (between 1 and 10) on top of it. They will then watch as the balls are placed into the box one at a time. The experimenter will remove one of the balls through a slot at the back of box without your child seeing before asking your child to reach into the box and remove the balls, one at a time.  Once the child has retrieved all of the balls (except the hidden one), the experimenter will record how long your child continues to search in the box for the missing ball (up to 1 minute) before putting the ball back into the box for your child to find.