Professor Susan Hespos


Susan Hespos is Professor of Infant Studies at MARCS. She leads a research program on understanding our earliest evidence of cognitive capacities in infancy and what changes over development. Hespos received her doctoral degree in Psychology from Emory University in 1996. In 2001, she was appointed Assistant Professor of Psychology and Human Development at Vanderbilt University. In 2005, she joined the Northwestern Psychology Department where she was promoted to Associate Professor and Full Professor. Her research has been supported by National Science Foundation for 15 years. Her work is published widely in top journals in cognitive and developmental psychology, including Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy, Psychological Science and Cognition.

Research Interests

Professor Hespos’ research focuses on early conceptual abilities, and how early thinking lays the foundation for adult reasoning. Most of this work falls within the domain of cognitive development, the study of how humans represent everyday entities like objects, space, and events. She investigates what infants understand about how objects behave and the first links between words and concepts. Her current work maintains this focus and explores the ability to represent substances like liquids, and the ability to make relational comparisons between objects and events. The patterns revealed in this research shed light on the basic principles that guide cognition and learning, not only in infants, but throughout the life span.

The research from her lab is currently featured on Netflix series call ‘Babies’ (part 2, episode 1).


  • 1996-1998 Postdoctoral Fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
  • 1998 – 2001 Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, Champaign, Illinois, USA
  • 1996 Ph.D. Psychology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  • 1993 M.A. Psychology, Emory  University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  • 1990 B.A. Reed College, Portland, Oregon, USA


Please click here for a list of publications