Ms Nichole Rose Breeland

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Doctoral Candidate - Doctor of Philosophy


Nichole Breeland is a PhD candidate supervised by Dr Annette Henderson at The University of Auckland. She is particularly interested in social cognition and how internal processes affect behavioural outcomes across the lifespan. Her enthusiasm for social cognition and lifespan development began in 2016 when she undertook a research assistant position in a child development lab at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. Here, she investigated four- to eight-year-olds' trust in expert testimony in regards to food safety. This experience, paired with a growing interest in designing creative experiments directed at uncovering advanced socio-cognitive process in young children, prompted her to pursue her PhD at the University of Auckland in New Zealand in September 2017. 

Research | Current

Nichole's PhD research focuses on social-cognitive development across the first two years of life. Specifically, she examines how bio-ecological systems such as parents' personality and values, impact pre-verbal infants' mental representations of shared-goals and toddlers' ability to coordinate and attain shared-goals with others. Nichole aims to construct a "cooperative phenotype" which identifies the relationships between two-year-olds' social-cognitive abilities (e.g., intention understanding, attention capacity, and person perception) and their cooperative ability (i.e., ability to attain a shared-goal). 

Teaching | Current

Graduate teaching assistant & head tutor for PSYCH 326 (Lifespan Development) - Semester 1, 2018, 2019, 2020
Graduate teaching assistant for PSYCH 311 (Advanced Topics in Social Psychology) - Semester 2, 2019
Graduate teaching assistant & head tutor for PSYCH 399 (Capstone: Communicating Psychology) - Semester 2, 2020

Postgraduate supervision

Supervised by: Dr Annette Henderson

Co-supervised by: Professor Quentin Atkinson


University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship (2017)

University of Auckland Exposure Poster Competition Finalist (2019)


Project manager (The Ontological Roots of Cooperative Action longitudinal study)

Research assistant (Early Learning Lab)


Areas of expertise

Socio-cognitive development in infancy and early childhood.

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Psi Chi (The International Honor Society in Psychology): 2015 - Current

Int'l PhD Student Representative - (Psychology Post Graduate Staff-Student Consultative Committee​): 2018 - Current

Post Graduate Staff-Student Consultative Committee​ Chair (School of Psychology): 2019 - 2020

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.
  • McRae, C., Breeland, N. R., Meinhardt, I., Graham, B., & Henderson, A. (19/10/2019). Infants’ joint attention abilities foster social connections with cooperative partners, but interfere with cooperative ability.. Poster presented at Cognitive Development Society, Louisville, Kentucky, USA. Infants’ joint attention abilities foster social connections with cooperative partners, but interfere with cooperative ability.. Related URL.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Inge Meinhardt, Annette Henderson

Contact details

Primary office location

SCIENCE CENTRE 302 - Bldg 302
Level 2, Room 227
New Zealand