Prof. Ariel Knafo-Noam

I am a professor of developmental social psychology at the Psychology Department, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. My main research interests concern the development of individual differences in social behavior and personal values, focusing on the effects of heredity and parenting on children’s development, as well as on the impact of children on their parents. I earned a BA in psychology and a master’s degree in social psychology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where I also performed my doctoral research: “Value transmission in the family: Processes of perception and acceptance of parental value,” supervised by Prof. Shalom Schwartz. Afterwards I had a postdoctoral Kreitman fellowship in educational psychology at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, and a postdoctoral fellowship in behavior genetics at the Social, Genetic, and Developmental Psychiatry Research Centre, at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London. Nowadays, my studies on values focus on how children’s values are affected by their own genetics, as well as their ​​culture, social context, and the values ​​of their parents. In a recent paper I have demonstrated how children’s values ​​are affected by their genetic inheritance. I also address the consequences of values on behavior. Cross-cultural research conducted with my colleagues, for example, demonstrated how values ​​of Arab and Jewish adolescents in Israel were related to their levels of violence at school and how the overall level of violence in schools affected the degree of relevance of values ​​in behavior. The research on values led me to a focus on children’s prosocial behaviors such as helping, sharing, and empathy, which often underlies these behaviors. In a twin study with my colleague Caroline Zahn-Waxler (2008), I have showed how empathy develops as a personality or temperament trait, in the second and third year of life. The study showed that the effects of the family environment shared by children reared together weaken with age, whereas genetic effects on empathy emerge in the second half of the second year of life. With our lab’s twin study (2011), I examined the prosocial behavior of 3.5 year-old children in a series of assignments that allowed them to help and to share resources. This was the first demonstration in a lab setting of the heritability of children’s prosocial behavior. The study found no direct relationship between children’s prosocial behavior and the parenting they received from their mothers. However, when children were divided by the presence of a specific allele of one of the dopaminergic genes, the parenting-prosocial behavior relationship was found, but only among carriers of this allele. In recent years, I have been engaged in research on how children’s genetics affect their temperament and how parents respond to them. My aim is to combine behavior genetics and social-personality psychology approaches with a developmental perspective to provide a comprehensive view of child development.

Lior Abramson

I am a PhD candidate in the Clinical neuropsychology track at the Hebrew University, after having completed an undergraduate degree in psychology and cognitive sciences from the Hebrew university as well. I study how cognitive development, executive functions and emotion regulation relates to the development of empathy in the first years of life. Another area of personal interest is how a child’s temperament influences his/her sensitivityto his/her environment, and whether there is a genetic basis for this influence. As part of my academic studies, I also took part in clinical training at the Loewenstein Hospital, in the department for head trauma rehabilitation. In addition to my work as a PhD student and a lab manager, I am a student at the Federman center for study of rationality.

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PhD Students

Sharon Cayzer

Matityah Angel

I am an educational psychologist and a father to 3 lovely young daughters. I love to work with infants and toddlers and I previously worked as a kindergarten teacher. I’m fascinated by cross-cultural research. My previous research work on this topic was on baby rearing practices of Jewish-Ethiopian mothers, their acculturation strategies and the link between these factors and their self efficacy as mothers. I have also done a cross-cultural comparison research, in which i explored the link between cultural values and eating disorders across different cultural groups. My current research as a PhD student is about parental value driven reactions to child temperament. I am examining whether parental value preferences makes them react differently to specific temperamental characteristics of their child. In addition, I am currently a part of the Hoffman leadership and responsibility fellowship program.

Noam Markowitch

I completed my BA, with excellence, in Psychology and Cognition at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Today I am a PhD candidate in the Social Psychology track (at the Hebrew University), under the supervision of Prof. Ariel Knafo-Noam, at the Social Development Laboratory. My research at the Social Development Laboratory analyzes the development of values within children and adolescents. My greatest research interest is how genetics, cognition, and environment influence the development of liberal vs. conservative values. In addition to my work here, I am involved in the Emotion and Emotion Regulation Laboratory. Other research interests include the development of emotionality preferences, emotional intellegence, environmental influences on genetics, and how heredity and environment work together.

Roni Pener-Tesler