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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


Meirav Amichai

After completing BA studies in psychology and Hebrew literature from Tel-Aviv university and an MA in clinical psychology from the Hebrew University, I decided to continue and deepen my MA thesis into a PhD thesis. In my MA thesis I studied the contribution of intelligence to children’s social abilities. In my doctoral studies I hope to deepen the understanding of this contribution, while focusing on very intelligent, gifted children. Aside from being a PhD student, I am an intern in clinical psychology. Through my training I provided therapy in a psychodynamic approach to children, adolescents and adults. I hope to continue and combine practical therapy and academic research in the future.

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

After receiving my MA in clinical and educational child psychology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, I started my PhD studies at Prof. Knafo’s lab. I was the manager and research coordinator of the age six wave of data collection of the Longitudinal Israeli Study of Twins. Later on, I started to combine an internship in clinical psychology alongside my PhD studies. I study the development of self-control in children, focusing on genetic and parental effects on the development of the trait, and on parent-child influence feedback cycles which may further mold self-control. Nowadays my study is supported by the generous President’s Scholarship.

Dana Verstberger

I am a PhD candidate in psychology at the Hebrew University, having completed an undergraduate degree in psychology and economics and a master’s degree in social psychology, both from the Hebrew University. My research deals with the bi-directionality of parent-child relationships and, more specifically, aims to understand how a child’s temperament affects parental behavior towards the child. I code for parent-child interactions during infancy, and am the coordinator of the “Israeli Family Development Research” (infant study). Another research area that interests me is the way parents behave towards their children in different situations. Nowadays my study is supported by the generous President’s Scholarship.

Hila Segal

I am an occupational and organizational psychologist, after completing MA studies from Tel Aviv University and working in this practice for many years. As a mother to 3 kids: twins of opposite sex and a son, I decided to return to the academy and deepen my understanding of the fascinating field of twins' relationships. Today I am a Ph.D. student, under the supervision of Prof. Ariel Knafo-Noam at the Hebrew University. My research is based on the Longitudinal Israeli Study of Twins (LIST). I examine the characteristics of twins' relationships, how they develop, and what influences the development of positive relationships between the twins. I hope that better understanding of twinship will help parents raise their twins in the way most adequate for them while maximizing benefits of being twins.

Shany Edelman

PhD student.

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MA Students


Oriya Baruchi

I completed a BA in psychology, with excellence, at the open university. Currently I am an MA student at the program of clinical and educational child psychology at the Hebrew university. My professional and personal interest as a mother of two children, is the way children and parents mutually influence each other. As part of this field of interest, I am writing my MA thesis on the relation between sleep quality of infants and the parental warmth they receive from their parents. In the lab I work as a coder of parent-child interactions in the infant study.

Adi Dan

After completing a BA in psychology and a LLM in law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, I am currently an MA student as part of the program of clinical and educational Child psychology, at the Hebrew University as well. I am the coordinator of the age five wave of data collection of the longitudinal "Israeli Family Development Research" (infant study), and further practice as an experimenter in this study.

I am mainly interested in the subject of Moral development and its consequences. My thesis is focusing on the development of conscience in children, particulary on the connection between the development of conscience and children's set of values and conduct.

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Postdoctoral Researchers


Dr. Rotem Schapira

I a fellow in a post-doctorate program at Mofet institute, under the supervision of prof. Ariel Knafo-Noam at the social lab in the Hebrew university. I investigate the genetic and environmental effects on emotion recognition and the interaction between genetic factors: gens, temperament and environmental factors: socio-emotional school climate impacts on twin's individual differences in emotion recognition, empathy and pro-social behavior. I received my PhD from the school of education at Tel Aviv university, under the supervision of prof. Dorit Aram. In my PhD I studied the contribution repeated mother-child shared book reading to preschoolers' socio-emotional competence. I am a lecturer and pedagogical counselor at the department of early education at Levinsky college in Tel-Aviv and at the school of education at Tel Aviv university. I married to yaron and have 3 kids.  

Liat Hazenfratz

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Reut Avinun

​After completing my BSc in Psychobiology at the Hebrew University, I decided to dig deeper into the relationship between genes and the psyche. Therefore, when I started my MSc in Neurobiology, two professors were my advisers, Prof. Knafo who specializes in developmental psychology and Prof. Ebstein who specializes in genetics. My thesis topic was the genetic influences on altruistic behavior. After completing my MSc, I continued to a PhD with the same advisers, but changed my main interest to parenting. Currently, I research the genetic influences on parental behavior, while considering influences that stem from the parent, and influences that stem from the child (i.e., how genetically influenced child behaviors affect parenting).

Dr. Ella Daniel

How do people become moral beings? What helps them decide which values and principles guide their life decisions? I am interested in understanding the process of moral development, and how it is affected by social factors. To that end, I study families, schools and ethnic groups, looking at their values and socialization practices. To obtain a meaningful picture of moral development, I take an interdisciplinary approach, combining social, developmental and cross-cultural psychology. I recieved my PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in January 2012. In my PhD at the Social Development laboratory, under the supervision of Prof. Knafo, I studied the development of value contextualization among majority and immigrant youth. I continued to study parenting and moral development processes as a post doctoral fellow at the University of Toronto.

Dr. Tal-Chen Rabinowitch (Straussman)

I studied psychology and musicology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, as well as performing arts at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance (specializing in the flute). I have a master’s degree in cognitive sciences from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which focused on theoretical aspects of emotional perception of music and on the links between music and empathy. I completed my PhD at the Centre for Music and Science at the University of Cambridge, under the joint supervision of Prof. Ian Cross and Dr. Pamela Burnard. This work explored experimentally the effects of musical group interaction on children’s every day capacity for empathy, and in particular, the emotional impact of synchronization during musical interaction. Currently, I am investigating the effects of synchronous interaction between children on their perceived similarity one to the other and, conversely, the influence of initial perceived similarity between children on their level of synchronization. I am addressing these questions from behavioral and genetic perspectives.

Dr. Florina Uzefovsky

I have completed my BA (cum laude) at the Hebrew University in an honors program combining psychology and biology (psychobiology). I then continued my studies and completed my MA in clinical psychology (cum laude) while enrolling in the direct doctoral program. My doctoral thesis (conducted under the supervision of Prof. Ariel Knafo and Prof. Richard Ebstein) focused on investigating the biological basis of empathy, using methods from the fields of developmental and social psychology, molecular genetics and neuro-endocrinology. Currently, I am a post-doctoral candidate, working with Dr. Maayan Davidov to investigate early development of empathy in infants. In addition to research, I am an adjunct lecturer at the Hebrew University and the Rothberg international school (in English), teaching the courses “Psychology and genetics – from Normal to Abnormal’ and ‘Nature and nurture of the Social Brain’.

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Twins Study

T Study

Karin Agajani

Orr hercky

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Dana Katsoty

Tiki Ysashar

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Infant Study

I Study

Neria Buzaglo

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Gal Yedidia

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Administrative Staff


Guy Doytch

Technical Support

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Social Development Laboratory, Department of Psychology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Mount Scopus, Jerusalem, Israel.

Email: Phone: +972(0)2-5883798

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