Since April, Dr. María Emilia Oñate carries out her postdoctoral research based at the Institute of Philosophy with a CONICET scholarship co-financed by Austral University. She has a degree and a PhD in Psychology from the Universidad Católica Argentina. Since 2009 she has taught Personality Psychology at Universidad Católica Argentina and since 2017 she is the director of the Graduation Thesis Seminar at the University of Cuenca del Plata.
The title of her research project is “Children’s discernment of the capacity for prior knowledge in human and non-human agents”. Its purpose is to know if children between 4 and 6 years old can distinguish different types of human and non-human agents (animal and divine) and if this distinction changes as they grow up. For this purpose, a longitudinal study will be carried out in two groups of children-, assessing cognitive development, theory of mind, and the attribution of prior knowledge to the agents by means of three tests. The project will probe whether children attribute different prior knowledge capacities to human (mother or caretaker) and non-human (dog and God) agents. In addition, it will try to be more precise about whether the attribution of prior knowledge to different agents (human and non-human) changes as children grow up, dividing them according to age 4 to 5 and 5 to 6 years old. Changes in the children’s theory of mind will be studied dividing them in the same two groups. Finally, the project will study if the level of theory of mind reached by children affects their levels of attribution of prior knowledge to different agents (human and non-human) as they grow.