Jacqueline Woolley Ph.D.

Jacqueline Woolley, Ph. D.

Jacqueline Woolley, Ph. D., is a Professor of Psychology and Director of the Children’s Research Lab at the University of Texas at Austin. She received her B.S. in Psychology from Carnegie Mellon University and her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Michigan. She has published over 40 refereed articles and book chapters, and has received 10 years of grant support for her research through the National Institutes of Health. In 2011 she was elected a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science. She serves on the board of the Cognitive Development Society, and is on the editorial board of the Journal for Cognition and Culture.

Her research addresses how children assign reality status when they encounter novel information. Specifically, she investigates the effects of three broad classes of factors: (1) characteristics of the individual child (e.g., age, ability to make the appearance-reality distinction) that may affect judgments regarding the reality status of various types of entities, processes, and events, (2) characteristics of the stimulus that may affect judgments about reality status (e.g. internal consistency of the attributes of the novel entity), and (3) effects of the environment or social setting on children’s decisions (e.g., the context in which children encounter a novel entity). Dr Woolley argues forcefully that the ability to make clear distinctions between what really exists and what does not is the foundation of a healthy society. This is especially true in today’s society, when children are exposed, primarily via the media, to significantly more and more varied information than in previous eras.

At the University of Texas, she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on children’s thinking. She has received both the President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Award and the College of Liberal Arts Raymond Dickson Endowed Centennial Teaching Fellowship for her teaching of undergraduate students. Her favorite course is her undergraduate course on the fantasy-reality distinction, in which she aims to foster critical thinking and to improve student writing.

Woolley lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband Rich MacMath, an architect, and her daughter, Jessie. Her son, Liam, is a student at the University of Texas. Her hobbies include playing tennis, and playing the fiddle.

Author of

What Children Know

How we learn about fantasy and reality
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