Associate Professor Annette Margaret Elizabeth Henderson

PhD (Queen's University, Canada)

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Associate Professor


I joined the School of Psychology at the University of Auckland in August 2009. Before moving to New Zealand I was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Maryland working with Professor Amanda Woodward. It was during this time that I learned about the methods used to study infant social cognition and my passion for investigating how infants come to understand their social worlds was ignited. I had already realized that children 2- to 4-years-old know quite a bit about their social world (thanks to my MSc with Professor Susan Graham and PhD with Professor Mark Sabbagh). However, it really is amazing how much babies know too! I have established the first experimental developmental psychology research centre in Auckland - the Early Learning Lab at the University of Auckland (ELLA) - where I have been able to continue the research that I love in a great school and beautiful country!

Research | Current

Current research projects examine how and what children learn from their social world with a particular focus on the development of socio-cultural competence in early childhood. To become socio-culturally competent children need to learn how to act and communicate with others in a way that is appropriate within the context in which they are living. In human societies this typically involves learning how to coordinate ones actions with others in non-linguistic and linguistic collaborative activities. Understanding the development of cooperation in early childhood is crucial because our everyday functioning, overall wellbeing, and the very survival of our species, rests on our abilities to work well and cooperate with others. Thus, a key goal of my research programme is to identify the factors that promote the development of children’s socio-cultural competence thereby enhancing children’s chances of having the best start to life in their social worlds.

At the foundation of my research and expertise is the development, validation and use of new methods to assess key social and cognitive abilities. I use a broad range of methodological tools, such as eye-tracking, behavioural measures, naturalistic behavioural observation, and genetic sampling. I also develop and use these methods across broad age ranges (0-7 years of age) and diverse interactive contexts, including parent-child interactions, child-child interactions, and infant-experimenter interactions. 

I am also a Psychosocial and Cognitive Development domain advisor for the Growing Up in NZ study. Learn more about this project at



Director, Early Learning Laboratory

Areas of expertise

Socio-cognitive and language development in early childhood (0-5 years of age). 

Committees/Professional groups/Services

President, Austsralasian Human Development Association ( )

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Goenuel, G., Hohenberger, A., Corballis, M., & Henderson, A. M. E. (2019). Joint and individual tool making in preschoolers: From social to cognitive processes. SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT, 28 (4), 1037-1053. 10.1111/sode.12373
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Michael Corballis
  • Low, R. S. T., Overall, N. C., Cross, E. J., & Henderson, A. M. E. (2019). Emotion regulation, conflict resolution, and spillover on subsequent family functioning. Emotion (Washington, D.C.), 19 (7), 1162-1182. 10.1037/emo0000519
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Nickola Overall
  • Wang, Y., & Henderson, A. M. E. (2018). We cooperated so … now what ? Infants expect cooperative partners to share resources. Infant Behavior and Development, 52, 9-13. 10.1016/j.infbeh.2018.04.005
  • Wang, Y., & Henderson, A. M. E. (2018). Just rewards: 17-Month-old infants expect agents to take resources according to the principles of distributive justice. Journal of experimental child psychology, 172, 25-40. 10.1016/j.jecp.2018.02.008
  • Sagar, M., Seymour, M., & Henderson, A. (2016). Creating connection with autonomous facial animation. Communications of the ACM, 59 (12), 82-91. 10.1145/2950041
  • Henderson, A. M., Graham, S. A., & Schell, V. (2015). 24-month-olds' selective learning is not an all-or-none phenomenon. PLoS ONE, 10 (6).10.1371/journal.pone.0131215
  • Henderson, A., & Scott, J. (2015). She called that thing a mido, but should you call it a mido too? Linguistic experience influences infants’ expectations of conventionality. Frontiers in Psychology, 6 (332).10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00332
  • Howard, L. H., Henderson, A. M., Carrazza, C., & Woodward, A. L. (2015). Infants' and young children's imitation of linguistic in-group and out-group informants. Child Development, 86 (1), 259-275. 10.1111/cdev.12299


Contact details

Primary office location

SCIENCE CENTRE 302 - Bldg 302
Level 2, Room 225
New Zealand

Web links