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Dr. Lili Ma

Associate Professor
EducationPhD, University of Virginia
Phone416-979-5000 ext. 552694
Areas of Expertiseearly childhood; social-cognitive development; social learning; credulity; social judgments


Dr. Ma received her PhD in developmental psychology from the University of Virginia in 2007. After graduate school, she completed postdoctoral training at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of British Columbia. She joined the Department of Psychology at Ryerson University in 2010.

Dr. Ma’s research centers on social-cognitive development in early childhood. More specifically, she studies how children make social judgments and decisions based on information from various sources. Some of her current areas of interest include (1) children’s selective learning from others, (2) children’s credulity toward misinformation, (3) early social understanding based on patterns of evidence, and (4) the effects of scarcity on children’s judgment and decision-making. Her current research is supported by a Discovery Grant from the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).

Dr. Ma’s teaching interests include undergraduate courses in introductory and developmental psychology, as well as advanced courses in infancy, cognitive development, and early social cognition.


Selected Publications

McDonald, K.*, & Ma, L. (2016). Preschoolers’ credulity toward misinformation from ingroup versus outgroup speakers. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 148, 87-100.

Jaffer, S.*, & Ma, L. (2015). Preschoolers show less trust in physically disabled or obese informants. Frontiers in Psychology, 5:1524.

Ma, L., & Xu, F. (2013). Preverbal infants infer intentional agents from the perception of regularity. Developmental Psychology, 49, 1330-1337.

Ma, L., & Woolley, J. D. (2013). Young children’s sensitivity to speaker gender when learning from others. Journal of Cognition and Development, 14, 100-119.

Ma, L., & Xu, F. (2011). Young children’s use of statistical sampling evidence to infer the subjectivity of preferences. Cognition, 120, 403-411.

Ma, L., & Ganea, P. A. (2010). Dealing with conflicting information: Young children’s reliance on what they see versus what they are told. Developmental Science, 13, 151-160.

*indicates trainee