University of Wisconsin–Madison

Charles Kalish


(608) 262-0840

1067 Educational Sciences
1025 West Johnson St.
Madison, WI 53706-1706

Lab website: Cognitive Development

Personal Biography

My research focuses on inductive inference and causal reasoning: How do we predict the future and learn from experience? One line of research explores how children acquire the set of commonsense beliefs that characterize adult thinking. I am particularly interested in children’s developing appreciation of physical and intentional causality.

My current research explores the role of norms in social cognition. How does children’s understanding of rules and obligations develop, and what role does such understanding play in their predictions and explanations of people’s behavior?

A second line of research addresses more general processes of categorization and inference. We explore how people use evidence to draw conclusions, and how information about sampling affects these conclusions. Ongoing studies focus on conditional probability judgments. These judgments are central to categorization and inference, and are especially interesting in stereotypes and social judgments. For example, that most basketball players are tall does not imply that most tall people are basketball players.

The ability to generalize past experience to new situations, to make inductive inferences, is central to what we think of as learning. We want children not just to be able to solve familiar problems, but also to know how to apply their knowledge in new circumstances. I hope that studying the process of generalization will tell us more about how children learn.

More about me: Chuck’s homepage

Lab Website: The Study of Children’s Thinking

Grants and Sponsorships

  • 2008-2013 – Amount: $741,938.00, “Understanding And Cultivating The Connections Between Students’ Natural Ways Of Reasoning And Mathematical Ways Of Reasoning,” Awarded By: National Science Foundation (REESE), Eric J. Knuth, Principal; Amy B. Ellis, Co-Principal; Charles W. Kalish, Co-Principal.


PhD, Developmental Psychology
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI

BA, Psychology, Magna cum laude
Swarthmore College
Swarthmore, PA


  • Kalish, C.W. (2013). Status seeking: The importance of roles in early social cognition. In M Banaji and S Gelman (Eds.), Navigating the social world: What infants, children, and other species can teach us, (pp. 216-219). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Kalish, C.W., Kim, S., & Young, A.M. (2012). How Young Children Learn From Examples: Descriptive and Inferential Problems. Cognitive Science. 36, 1427-1448.
    Online Publication/Abstract
  • Young, A.M., Alibali, M.W., & Kalish, C.W. (2012). Disagreement and Causal Learning: Others’ Hypotheses Affect Children’s Evaluations of Evidence. Developmental Psychology. 48, 1242-1253.
    Online Publication/Abstract
  • Kalish, C.W. (2012). Normative reasoning and learning. Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning, (pp. 842). New York: Springer.
    Online Publication/Abstract
  • Kim, S., Kalish, C.W., & Harris, P. (2012). Speaker reliability guides children’s inductive inferences about novel properties. Cognitive Development. 27, 114-125.
    Online Publication/Abstract
  • Gibson, B.R., Zhu, X., Rogers, T.T., Kalish, C.W., & Harrison, J. (2011, December). Humans learn using manifolds, reluctantly. Advances in Neural Information Processing.
    Online Publication/Abstract
  • Knuth, E.J., Kalish, C.W., Ellis, A.B., Williams, C., & Felton, M. (2011). Adolescent reasoning in mathematical and non-mathematical domains: Exploring the paradox. The adolescent brain: Learning, reasoning, and decision making. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  • Thevenow-Harrison, J., & Kalish, C.W. (2011, August). What do children learn through constrained sampling: Sample but not population statistics. Proceedings of the 33th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society.
    Online Publication/Abstract
  • Kalish, C.W., & Anderson, C. (2011). Ownership as a Social Status. Children’s Ownership. New Directions in Child and Adolescent Development. 132, 13.
  • Kalish, C.W. (2011, July (3rd Quarter/Summer)). Do children and adults learn forward and inverse conditional probabilities together? Proceedings of the 33th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society.
    Online Publication/Abstract
  • Thevenow-Harrison, J., & Kalish, C.W. (2011, July (3rd Quarter/Summer)). What do children learn through constrained sampling? Sample but not population statistics. Proceedings of the 33th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society.
    Online Publication/Abstract
  • Kalish, C.W., Rogers, T.T., Lang, J., & Zhu, X. (2011). Can Semi-Supervised Learning Explain Incorrect Beliefs about Categories? Cognition. 120, 106-118.
  • Kalish, C.W., Rogers, T.T., Jonathan, L., & Zhu, X. (2011). Can Semi-Supervised Learning Explain Incorrect Beliefs about Categories? Cognition. pp. 106-118.
  • Kalish, C.W., Scheinholtz, L., & Holden, K. (2011). Cognitive development and children’s understanding of personal finance. In D. Lambdin (Eds.), Financial decisions across the lifespan: Problems, programs, and prospects, (pp. 25). New York, NY: Springer.
  • Zhu, X., Gibson, B., Jun, K., Rogers, T.T., Harrison, J., & Kalish, C.W. (2010, June). Cognitive Models of Test-Item Effects in Human Category Learning. Proceedings of the 27th Conference on Machine Learning.
  • Rogers, T.T., Kalish, C.W., Gibson, B., Harrison, J., & Zhu, X. (2010, June). Semi-supervised learning is observed in a speeded but not an unspeeded 2D categorization task. Proceedings of the 32nd Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society.
  • Scheinholtz, L., Holden, K., & Kalish, C.W. (in press). Cognitive Development and Children’s Understanding of Personal Finance. Financial Decisions across the Lifespan: Problems, Programs, and Prospects. New York, USA: Springer.
  • Kalish, C.W. (2010). How Children Use Examples to Make Conditional Predictions. Cognition. 116, 1-14.
    Online Publication/Abstract
  • Kalish, C.W., & Kim, S. (in press). Children’s Ascriptions of Property Rights With Changes of Ownership. Cognitive Development. 24(3), 322-336.
    Online Publication/Abstract
  • Kalish, C.W., & Lawson, C. (2009). Sample selection and inductive generalization. Memory & Cognition. 22, 651-670.
    Online Publication/Abstract
  • Castro, R., Kalish, C.W., Nowak, R., Qian, R., Rogers, T.R., & Zhu, X. (2008). Human active learning. NIPS.
  • Kalish, C.W., & Lawson, C.A. (in press). Development of social category representations: Early appreciation of roles and deontic relations. Child Development. 79, 577-593.
    Online Publication/Abstract
  • Kalish, C.W. (2008). Induction. In Neil Salkind (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Educational Psychology. Sage.


  • Kalish, C.W., Presenter & Author, & Riggs, A.E., Author Only (2013, April 20). What’s Wrong? Children’s Normative and Psychological Evaluations., Society for Research in Child Development, Seattle, WA.
  • Kalish, C.W., Presenter & Author (2012, August 5). Essentialism and Evidence in Children’s Inductive Inferences, American Psychological Association, Orlando, FL.
  • Riggs, A., Presenter & Author, Kalish, C.W., Author Only, (2011). Memory and Generalization: Children’s Encoding of Generalizable and Non-Generalizable Information, Cognitive Development Society, Philadelphia, PA.
  • Kalish, C.W. (2011, April 1). School-Aged Children Distinguish Descriptive and Inferential Statistics in Responses to Inconsistent Evidence, Society for Research in Child Development, Montreal.
  • Young, A., Alibali, M., & Kalish, C.W. (2009). Agreement with others’ hypotheses affects children’s evaluations of evidence, Carnegie Mellon Symposium, CMU, Pittsburgh, PA.
  • Kalish, C.W., Presenter & Author, Young, A.G., Presenter & Author, & Kim, S., Presenter & Author (2009, October 6). When do children learn conditional probabilities, 6th biennial meeting of the Cognitive Development, Cognitive Development Society, San Antonio, TX.
  • Young, A., Presenter & Author, Kalish, C.W., Author Only, & Alibali, M., Author Only (2009). Others’ hypotheses affect children’s evaluations of evidence, IES Research Conference, Inst. Educational Studies, Washington.
  • Kalish, C.W., Author Only, martha, a., Author Only, & andrew, y., Presenter & Author (2009). Do others’ hypotheses affect children’s evaluations of evidence, Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Meeting, Society for Research in Child Development, Denver, CO.
  • Kalish, C.W. (2009, April 12). Normative expectations in young children’s social categories, Society for Research in Child Developmt, SRCD, Denver.
  • Kalish, C.W. (2008). Children’s Understanding of the Constructed World, AHRC Culture & Mind workshop, UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, Vancouver, BC.
  • Kalish, C.W. (2008). Young Children’s Social Categories and the Development of Discrimination, Collective Intentionality VI Conference, Berkeley, MA.
  • Kalish, C.W. (2008). Trust but Verify: Children’s Evaluations of Claims, Collective Trust Workshop, Canadian Research Council, Kingston, ON.
  • Kalish, C.W. (2008). Because I said so: How Children Learn from Others, Conventionality preconference, International Society on Infant Studies, Vancouver, BC.

School Service

  • Educational Neurosciences Steering Committee
    Dates of Membership: 2011 – Present