Dr Alia Martin

Senior Lecturer
School of Psychology

Teaching in 2020


BA(Hons) (McGill), MS, MPhil, PhD (Yale)


Communication allows us to share our thoughts with other people, but figuring out how to communicate effectively with others, and determining what others are trying to communicate to us, is a challenge. How do babies and young children, immersed in a world of words, actions, and thoughts, learn how communication works?

I study how humans come to reason about others' psychological states (their thoughts, beliefs, intentions, desires, etc.) and how this reasoning informs our expectations, explanations, and evaluations of others' behaviour and how we choose to interact with them. I am especially interested in investigating the origins of these theory of mind capacities by identifying the social domains in which they are used, such as communication, helping, competition, and action understanding. I ask these questions in a few different populations, including babies, children, adults, and nonhuman primates.

I run the new VUW Infant and Child Cognition Lab (VICCL), where my students and I will study how babies and young children think about the social world around them. There are currently opportunities in the lab for students at all levels (undergraduate, honours, postgraduate) to get involved in research on infant and child cognition! Please email alia.martin@vuw.ac.nz if you’re interested in learning more about our current projects and/or joining the lab.


Selected publications

Teaching in 2020