I am a fifth year graduate student in the Developmental Psychology program at the University of Virginia. I work primarily with Dr. Angeline Lillard in the Early Development Lab, which is part of the Child Development Labs.

Before coming to UVA, I received my undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University, where I worked with Christy Buchanan and Eric Stone. I also spent two summers working in the Child Study Center at Emory University.


Click here to download a PDF of my CV


University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
     Degree: PhD, Expected May 2015

Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC
     Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Psychology (minor in Sociology), May 2010


Broadly, my research focuses on children’s experiences in pretense, fiction and fantasy. How do children understand these experiences? How might these experiences affect children's behaviors, beliefs and abilities?

Perspective taking and adopting fictional characters' stereotypical traits

Research suggests that adults who adopt the point of view of a character take on the character's stereotypical traits and behaviors. Do children also adopt traits of protagonists? If so, the characters that children read about, watch on TV or pretend to be might impact their later behavior. For example, does taking the perspective of an intelligent character in a TV show lead children to see themselves as more intelligent or perhaps even improve academic performance? In this line of research, we are investigating whether children who take perspective of a character in a narrative will adopt the character’s traits and behaviors.

Theory of mind and children's engagement in fantasy worlds

Engaging in fantastical worlds might advance children's theory of mind skills because in fantasy children must imagine alternative realities (e.g. imagining a world where people can fly), a skill that might be helpful in understanding others' minds (e.g. imagining that a person could have a false belief about the world). In a short-term longitudinal study, we found that preschoolers' fantasy orientation predicted improvement in theory of mind over the time period examined (Dore & Lillard, in press).

Racial bias in perceptions of others’ pain

Recent research suggests that people assume black people feel less pain than do white people (Trawalter, Hoffman & Waytz, 2012). In collaboration with UVA social psychologists Kelly Hoffman and Sophie Trawalter, we examined when this bias emerges in childhood by having children of different ages rate the pain of both a black and a white child in response to different events, like stubbing your toe or hitting your head. We found no evidence for the bias at age 5, a weak bias at age 7 and a reliable bias by age 10. This work has been covered by national media including the Huffington Post and the Boston Globe. In future work in this line, we plan to investigate potential mechanisms that may explain the development of this bias and interventions that could prevent or reduce this racial pain bias in children.

Learning from testimony about reality

How do children use others' testimony to decide what is real and what is fantasy? What cues might children use to decide whether to believe others' testimony about entities' reality status? In collaboration with Vikram Jaswal, I am investigating these questions by presenting children with videos of conversations about novel entities and manipulating various cues to determine which factors might affect children's belief in the entities' reality status.

Publications and Presentations


Dore, R.A., Jaswal,V.K., & Lillard, A.S. (in press). Real or not? Speaker informativeness influences children's reality judgments. Cognitive Development. Link to PDF

Dore, R.A. & Lillard, A.S. (in press). Theory of mind and children’s engagement in fantasy worlds. Imagination, Cognition, and Personality. Link to PDF

Hopkins, E. J., Dore, R. A., & Lillard, A. S. (in press). Do children learn from pretense? Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. Link to PDF

Dore, R.A., Lillard, A.S & Jaswal, V.K. (in press). Anthropologist in the Crib? A Review of Trusting What You’re Told. Journal of Cognition and Development. Link to PDF

Lillard, A. S., Dore, R. A., Hopkins, E. J., & Smith, E. D. (in press). Challenges to research on play: Mending the methodological mistakes. In J. J. Johnson, & S. G. Eberle (Eds.), Handbook of the Study of Play. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. Link to PDF

Dore, R.A., Hoffman, K.M., Lillard, A.S., & Trawalter, S. (2014). Children's racial bias in perceptions of others' pain. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, Advanced online publication. doi: 10.1111/bjdp.12038 Link to PDF

Dore. R.A. & Lillard, A.S. (2014). Do children prefer mentalistic descriptions? Journal of Genetic Psychology, 175(1), 1-15. Link to PDF

Dore, R.A., Buchanan, C.M., & Stone, E. (2014). A social values analysis of parental decision making. Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied. Advanced online publication. doi: 10.1080/00223980.2013.808603 Link to PDF

Lillard, A.S., Lerner, M.D., Hopkins, E.J., Dore, R.A., Smith, E.D., & Palmquist, C.M. (2013). The impact of pretend play on children's development: A review of the evidence. Psychological Bulletin, 139, 1 – 34. Link to PDF

Lillard, A.S., Hopkins, E.J., Dore, R.A., Palmquist, C.M., Lerner, M.D., & Smith, E.D. (2013). Concepts and theories, methods and reasons: Why do the children (pretend) play? Reply to Weisberg, Hirsh-Pasek, and Golinkoff (2013); Bergen (2013); and Walker and Gopnik (2013). Psychological Bulletin, 139, 49 - 52. Link to PDF

Manuscripts in preparation

Dore. R.A., Smith, E.D., & Lillard, A.S. (in preparation). Children adopt the traits of characters in fictional narratives.

Dore, R. A., Hoffman, K. M., Lillard, A. S., & Trawalter, S. (in preparation). Developing cognitions about race: Perceptions of pain and hardship.

Dore, R.A. & Lillard, A.S. (in preparation). Learning through identification with characters in fictional narratives.

Conference Presentations

Dore, R., Smith, E.S., & Lillard, A.S. (April 2013). You Are What You Read (Or Whom You Take the Perspective of): Children Adopt the Traits of Characters in Fictional Narratives. Poster presented at biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Seattle, WA.

Dore, R., Hoffman, K.M., Lillard, A.S., & Trawalter, S. (April 2013) Do You Feel What I Feel? Children’s Racial Bias in Perceptions of Other’s Pain. Poster presented at biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Seattle, WA

Dore, R., Stone, E.R., Buchanan, C.M. (November, 2010). A Social Values Analysis of Parental Decision Making. Poster presented at annual meeting of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making, St. Louis, MO.

Dore, R., Buchanan, C.M., & Stone, E.R. (March, 2010). Self-Other Differences in the Decision-Making of Parents of Adolescents. Poster presented at biennial meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Philadelphia, PA.

Ellingsen, R. W., Buchanan, C. M., Dore, R., Voos, A., & Robinson, L. (April, 2009). Mothers' expectations about adolescent risk-taking as predictors of parental efficacy, parenting strategies, and verbal messages. In C. M. Buchanan (Chair), Mechanisms of Self-Fulfilling Prophecies During Adolescence. Symposium presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research on Child Development, Denver, CO.

Everett, B., Buchanan, C. M., Voos, A., Robinson, L., & Dore, R. (April, 2009). Moderators of the relation between parental civic involvement and youth civic development. Poster presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research on Child Development, Denver, CO.

Departmental Presentations

Dore, R.A. (2013, April 15) Effects of Perspective-Taking in Pretense and Fiction. Presented at the Developmental Lunch series at the University of Virginia

Dore, R.A. (2011, May 2) Pretend Play and Social Cognitive Development: Does perspective-taking play influence children's theory of mind skills? Presented at the Developmental Lunch series at the University of Virginia.


Teaching Experience

Instructor, Interacting with Fictional Narratives: A Developmental Perspective (Fall 2014)

Discussion Teaching Assistant, Introduction to Child Psychology (Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013)

Lab Teaching Assistant, Research Methods and Data Analysis I (Fall 2012)

Review Teaching Assistant, Introduction to Child Psychology (Fall 2010)

Selected Student Feedback:

"She is understanding and open to questions…She commands respect but is very friendly, a great balance to have."

"What really helped me to succeed in your course was the way that you offered help to students… whenever I asked a question, you always helped me to think about the question in a different way and come up with the answer on my own. This helped me to remember the concept in the long run."

"Rebecca was very knowledgeable about all of the topics we covered this semester…. She was a good listener and very supportive of everyone's ideas and interested in what we had to contribute."

"She is very good as explaining things and helping students out when they are confused. She really tries to get into the mindset of the student.""

"Your enthusiasm for teaching helped us to want to participate in a course area that can easily become dry! Thank you for making your classes a priority."

Graduate Teacher Training Program

In 2013, I completed the Graduate Teacher Training Program. The goal of the program is to train graduate students in different models of effective teaching, specifically for the teaching of psychology. Workshops and training focus on three distinct areas of instruction: student learning, assessment of student learning, and teaching techniques. By the end of their tenure in this program, participants complete a portfolio of teaching related documents, including a reflective teaching statement, course syllabus, and peer-observation reflection.

Tomorrow’s Professor Today

I am also participating in Tomorrow’s Professor Today, a selective university wide training program for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who wish to hone their teaching through self- and peer-assessment, workshop attendance, and the creation of a teaching portfolio.

Faculty Collaborators

Angeline Lillard (Advisor)
Vikram Jaswal
Sophie Trawalter

Graduate Student Collaborators and Colleagues

Eric Smith
Emily Hopkins
Matthew Lerner
Carolyn Palmquist
Robyn Kondrad
Kelly Hoffman
Marissa Drell
Shaina Rowell
Katie Boguszewski

Information for students

Undergraduate students who are interested in working in our lab should fill out this application. We typically review applications in the spring for the following school year.

Students from other universities can apply to our summer internship program. Get more information here.

Contact information

102 Gilmer Hall
P.O. Box 400400
Charlottesville, VA 22904