Head shot of Dr. Ori FriedmanBSc (Toronto), PhD (Boston College)

Contact information


UWaterloo Child Cognition Lab home page

View my profile on Google Scholar or ResearchGate

Research interests

I am interested in children's social cognitive development and many related topics. My research investigates issues including how young children understand thoughts, emotions, and actions; how children think about ownership, rights, and responsibilities; and how children engage in pretend-play and understand the distinction between fantasy and reality. 

Journal articles and chapters

  • Doan, T., Stonehouse, E. E., Denison, S., & Friedman, O. (in press). The odds tell children what people favor. Developmental Psychology.
  • Goulding, B. W., Stonehouse, E. E., & Friedman, O. (in press). Causal knowledge and children’s possibility judgments. Child Development.
  • Stonehouse, E. E., Huh, M., & Friedman, O. (in press). Easy or difficult? Children’s understanding of how supply and demand affect goal completion. Child Development.
  • Cleroux, A., Peck, J., & Friedman, O. (2022). Young children infer psychological ownership from stewardship. Developmental Psychology, 58, 671-679.
  • Stonehouse, E. E., & Friedman, O. (2022). Attributing ownership to hold others accountable. Cognition, 225, 105106.
  • Białek, M., Muda, R., Fugelsang, J. A., Friedman, O. (2021). Disgust and moral judgment: Distinguishing between elicitors and feelings matters. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 12, 304-313.
  • Cleroux, A., & Friedman, O. (2021). Young children infer feelings of ownership from habitual use. Emotion, 21, 607–616.
  • Doan, T., Friedman, O., & Denison, S. (2021). Oh … so close! Children’s close counterfactual reasoning and emotion inferences. Developmental Psychology, 57, 678–688.
  • Doan, T., Friedman, O., & Denison, S. (2021). Toddlers and preschoolers understand that some preferences are more subjective than others. Child Development, 92, 853-861.
  • Dunk, R. J., Goulding, B. W., Fugelsang, J. A., & Friedman, O. (2021). Butt-dialing the devil: Evil agents are expected to disregard intentions behind requests. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 96, 104188. 
  • Goulding, B. W. & Friedman, O. (2021). A similarity heuristic in children’s possibility judgments. Child Development, 92, 662-671.
  • Pesowski, M. L., Ho, V., & Friedman, O. (2021). Varieties of value: Children differentiate caring from liking. Cognitive Development, 59, 101069.
  • Phillips, J., Buckwalter, W., Cushman, F., Friedman, O., Martin, A., Turri, J., Santos, L., Knobe, J. (2021). Knowledge before belief, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 44, E140.
  • Phillips, J., Buckwalter, W., Cushman, F., Friedman, O., Martin, A., Turri, J., Santos, L., Knobe, J. (2021). Actual knowledge [Response to commentaries]. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 44, E177.
  • Sehl, C., Friedman, O., & Denison, S. (2021). Blind to bias? Young children do not anticipate that sunk costs lead to irrational choices. Cognitive Science, 45, e13063.
  • Stonehouse, E. E. & Friedman, O. (2021). Unsolicited but acceptable: Non-owners can access property if the owner benefits. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 150, 135-144.
  • Doan, T., Friedman, O., & Denison, S. (2020). Young children use probability to infer happiness and the quality of outcomes. Psychological Science, 31, 149-159.
  • Friedman, O. (2020). Questions and potential answers about ways ownership and art matter for one another. Empirical Studies of the Arts, 38, 119-127.
  • Goulding, B. W. & Friedman, O. (2020). Children’s beliefs about possibility differ across dreams, stories, and reality. Child Development, 91, 1843-1853.
  • Mathy, F., Fartoukh, M., Friedman, O., Gauvrit, N., & Guida, A. (2020). Children’s working memory develops at similar rates for sequences differing in compressibility. L'Année Psychologique, 120, 175-202.
  • Mathy, F. & Friedman, O. (2020). Working memory develops at a similar rate across diverse stimuli. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 191, 104735.
  • Nancekivell, S. E. & Friedman, O. (2020). I owe you an explanation: Children’s beliefs about when people are obligated to explain their actions. In T. Lombrozo, J. Knobe, & S. Nichols (Eds.), Oxford studies in experimental philosophy (Vol. 3, pp. 213-231). Oxford University Press.
  • Starmans, C. & Friedman, O. (2020). Expert or esoteric? Philosophers attribute knowledge differently than all other academics. Cognitive Science, 44, e12850.
  • Thorburn, R., Bowman-Smith, C. K., & Friedman, O. (2020). Likely stories: Young children favor typical over atypical story events. Cognitive Development, 56, 100950.
  • Bowman-Smith, C.K., Shtulman, A., & Friedman, O. (2019). Distant lands make for distant possibilities: Children view improbable events as more possible in far-away locations. Developmental Psychology, 55, 722-728. 
  • Goulding, B. W., Atance, C. M., & Friedman, O. (2019). An advantage for ownership over preferences in children’s future thinking. Developmental Psychology, 55, 1702-1708.
  • Goulding, B. W. & Friedman, O. (2019). Future-oriented objects. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 42, E252. Commentary on Hoerl & McCormack (same issue).
  • Huh, M. & Friedman, O. (2019). Young children use supply and demand to infer desirability. Developmental Psychology, 55, 2483–2490.
  • Huh, M., Grossmann, I., & Friedman, O. (2019). Children show reduced trust in confident advisors who are partially-informed. Cognitive Development, 50, 49-55.
  • Levene, M., Hu, D. Z., & Friedman, O. (2019). The glow of grime: Why cleaning an old object can wash away its value. Judgment and Decision Making, 14, 565-572.
  • Meyers, E. A., Bialek, M., Fugelsang, J. A., Koehler, D. J., & Friedman, O. (2019). Wronging past rights: The sunk cost bias extends to moral judgment. Judgment and Decision Making, 14, 721-727.
  • Nancekivell, S. E., Friedman, O., & Gelman, S. A. (2019). Ownership matters: People possess a naive theory of ownership. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 23, 102-113.
  • Pesowski, M. L. & Friedman, O. (2019). Children value objects with distinctive histories. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 148, 2120-2128.
  • Pesowski, M. L., Kanngiesser, P., & Friedman, O. (2019). Give and take: Ownership affects how 2- and 3-year-olds allocate resources. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 185, 214-223.
  • Turpin, M. H., Meyers, E. A., Fugelsang, J. A., Friedman, O., & Bialek, M. (2019). Sunk cost bias and withdrawal aversion. American Journal of Bioethics, 19, 57-59. Commentary on Wilkinson, Butcherine, & Savulescu (same issue). 
  • Weatherhead, D., Friedman, O., & White, K. S. (2019). Preschoolers are sensitive to accent distance. Journal of Child Language, 46, 1058-1072.
  • Baer, C. & Friedman, O. (2018). Fitting the message to the listener: Children selectively mention general and specific facts. Child Development, 89, 461-475. 

  • Bialek, M., Fugelsang, J., & Friedman, O. (2018). Choosing victims: Human fungibility in moral decision-making. Judgment and Decision Making, 13, 451-457. 

  • Bowman-Smith, C. K., Goulding, B. W., & Friedman, O. (2018). Children hold owners responsible when property causes harm. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 147, 1191-1199.

  • Doan, T., Friedman, O., & Denison, S. (2018). Beyond belief: The probability-based notion of surprise in children. Emotion, 18, 1163-1173. 

  • Friedman, O., Pesowski, M. L. & Goulding, B. W. (2018). Legal ownership is psychological: Evidence from young children (pp. 19-31). In J. Peck and S. Shu (Eds.), Psychological ownership and consumer behavior. New York: Springer. ​

  • Goulding, B. W. & Friedman, O. (2018). The development of territory-based inferences of ownership. Cognition, 177, 142-149.  ​

  • Lenton-Brym, A. P., Moscovitch, D. A., Vidovic, V., Nilson, E., & Friedman, O. (2018). Theory of mind ability in high socially anxious individuals. Anxiety, Stress, and Coping, 31, 487-499. ​

  • Nancekivell, S. E. & Friedman, O. (2018). Spoiled for choice: Identifying the building blocks of folk-economic beliefs. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 41, e183. Commentary on Boyer & Petersen (same issue).​

  • Pesowski, M. L. & Friedman, O. (2018). Using versus liking: Young children use ownership to predict actions, but not to infer preferences. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 169, 19-29. ​

  • Weatherhead, D., Friedman, O., & White, K. S. (2018). Accent, language, and race: 4-6-year-old children’s inferences differ by speaker cue. Child Development, 89, 1613-1624. ​

  • Weatherhead, D., White, K. S., & Friedman, O. (2018). Children’s accent-based inferences depend on geographic background. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 175, 108-116. 

  • Huh, M. & Friedman, O. (2017). Young children’s understanding of the limits and benefits of group ownership. Developmental Psychology, 53, 686-697. ​

  • Nancekivell, S. & Friedman O. (2017). "Because it's hers": When preschoolers use ownership in their explanations. Cognitive Science, 41, 827-843. ​

  • Nancekivell, S. & Friedman O. (2017). She bought the unicorn from the pet store: Six-to-seven-year-olds are strongly inclined to generate natural explanations. Developmental Psychology, 53, 1079-1087.​

  • Turri, J., Friedman, O., & Keefner, A. (2017). Knowledge central: A central role for knowledge attributions in social evaluations. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 70, 504-515. 

  • Van de Vondervoort, J. W. & Friedman, O. (2017). Young children protest and correct pretense that contradicts their general knowledge. Cognitive Development, 43, 182-189.

  • Van de Vondervoort, J. W., Meinz, P., & Friedman, O. (2017). Children's judgments about ownership rights and body rights: Evidence for a common basis. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 155, 1-11.​

  • Baer, C. & Friedman, O. (2016). Children's generic interpretation of pretense. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 150, 99-111. 

  • McEwan, S., Pesowski, M.L., & Friedman, O. (2016). Identical but not interchangeable: Preschoolers view owned objects as non-fungible. Cognition, 146, 16-21.
  • Millar, C., Starmans, C., Fugelsang, J., & Friedman, O. (2016). It’s personal: The effect of personal value on utilitarian moral judgments. Judgment and Decision Making, 11, 326-331.
  • Nancekivell, S.E., Millar, J.C., Summers, P.C., & Friedman, O. (2016). Ownership rights. In J. Sytsma & J.W. Buckwalter (Eds.), A companion to experimental philosophy (pp. 247-256). Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons. 
  • Pesowski, M. L., Denison, S., & Friedman, O. (2016). Young children infer preferences from a single action, but not if it is constrained. Cognition, 155, 168-175.
  • Pesowski, M. L. & Friedman, O. (2016). Preschoolers use emotional reactions to infer relations: The case of ownership. Cognitive Development, 40, 60-67.
  • Starmans, C. & Friedman, O. (2016). If I am free you can't own me: Autonomy makes entities less ownable. Cognition, 148, 145-153.
  • Weatherhead, D., White, K. S., & Friedman, O. (2016). Where are you from? Preschoolers infer background from accent. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 143, 171-178.
  • Friedman, O. & Turri, J. (2015). Is probabilistic evidence a source of knowledge? Cognitive Science, 39, 1062-1080.
  • Levene, M., Starmans, C., & Friedman, O. (2015). Creation in judgments about the establishment of ownership. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 60, 103-109.
  • Mathy, F., Friedman, O., Courenq, B., Laurent, L., & Millot, J.L. (2015). Rule-based category use in preschool children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 131, 1-18.
  • Pesowski, M. L. & Friedman, O. (2015). Preschoolers and toddlers use ownership to predict basic emotions. Emotion, 15, 104-108.
  • Ross, H., Friedman, O., & Field, A. (2015). Toddlers assert and acknowledge ownership rights. Social Development, 24, 341-356.
  • Van de Vondervoort, J.W. & Friedman, O. (2015). Children have difficulty using object location to recognize when natural objects are owned. Cognitive Development, 35, 50-64.
  • Van de Vondervoort, J.W. & Friedman, O. (2015). Parallels in preschoolers’ and adults’ judgments about ownership rights and bodily rights. Cognitive Science, 39, 184-198.
  • Malcolm, S.L., Defeyter, M.A., & Friedman, O. (2014). Children and adults use gender- and age-stereotypes in ownership judgments. Journal of Cognition and Development15, 123-135.
  • Millar, J.C., Turri, J., & Friedman, O. (2014). For the greater goods? Ownership rights and utilitarian moral judgment. Cognition, 133, 79-84.
  • Nancekivell, S.E. & Friedman, O. (2014). Mine, yours, no-one's: Children’s understanding of how ownership affects object use. Developmental Psychology50, 1845-1853.
  • Nancekivell, S.E. & Friedman, O. (2014). Preschoolers selectively infer history when explaining outcomes: Evidence from explanations of ownership, liking, and use. Child Development85, 1236-1247.
  • Neary, K.R. & Friedman, O. (2014). Young children give priority to ownership when judging who should use an object. Child Development85, 326-337.
  • Turri, J. & Friedman, O. (2014). Winners and losers in the folk epistemology of lotteries. In J. Beebe (Ed.), Advances in experimental epistemology (pp. 45-69). New York: Continuum.
  • Van de Vondervoort, J.W. & Friedman, O. (2014). Preschoolers can infer general rules governing fantastical events in fiction. Developmental Psychology50, 1594-1599.
  • Friedman, O. (2013). How do children represent pretend play? In M. Taylor (Ed.), Oxford handbook of the development of imagination (pp. 186-195). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Friedman, O, Van de Vondervoort, J.W., Defeyter, M.A., & Neary, K.R. (2013). First possession, history, and young children’s ownership judgments. Child Development, 84, 1519-1525.
  • Nancekivell, S.E., Van de Vondervoort, J.W., & Friedman, O. (2013). Young children’s understanding of ownership. Child Development Perspectives, 7, 243-247.
  • Neary, K.R. & Friedman, O. (2013). The origin of children’s appreciation of ownership rights. In M.R. Banaji & S.A. Gelman (Eds.), Navigating the social World: What infants, children, and other species can teach us (pp. 356-360). New York: Oxford University Press. 
  • Starmans, C. & Friedman, O. (2013). Taking 'know' for an answer: A reply to Nagel, San Juan, and Mar. Cognition, 129, 662-665.
  • Sutherland, S.L. & Friedman, O. (2013). Just pretending can be really learning: Children use pretend-play as a source for acquiring generic knowledge. Developmental Psychology49, 1660-1668.
  • Neary, K.R., Van de Vondervoort, J.W., & Friedman, O. (2012). Artifacts and natural kinds: Children's judgments about whether objects are owned. Developmental Psychology, 48, 149-158.
  • Palamar, M., Le, D.T., Friedman, O. (2012). Acquiring ownership and the attribution of responsibility. Cognition, 124, 201-208.
  • Starmans, C. & Friedman, O. (2012). The folk conception of knowledge. Cognition124, 272-283.
  • Sutherland, S. & Friedman, O. (2012). Preschoolers acquire general knowledge by sharing in pretense. Child Development, 83, 1064-1071. 
  • Friedman, O., Neary, K.R., Defeyter, M.A., & Malcolm, S.L. (2011). Ownership and object history. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 132, 79-89.
  • Friedman, O. & Ross, H. (2011). Twenty-one reasons to care about the psychological basis of ownership. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 132, 1-8.
  • Petrashek, A.R. & Friedman, O. (2011). The signature of inhibition in theory of mind: Children’s predictions of behavior based on avoidance desire. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 18, 199-203
  • Baker, S., Friedman, O., & Leslie, A.M. (2010). The opposites task: Using general rules to test cognitive flexibility in preschoolers. Journal of Cognition and Development, 11, 240-254.
  • Friedman, O. (2010). Necessary for possession: How people reason about the acquisition of ownership. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36, 1161-1169.
  • Friedman, O., Neary, K.R., Burnstein, C.L., & Leslie, A.M. (2010). Is young children's recognition of pretense metarepresentational or merely behavioral? Evidence from 2- and 3-year-olds' understanding of pretend sounds and speech. Cognition, 115, 314-319.
  • Neary, K.R., Friedman, O., & Burnstein, C.L. (2009). Preschoolers infer ownership from “control of permission”. Developmental Psychology, 45, 873-876.
  • Friedman, O. & Neary, K.R. (2009). First possession beyond the law: Adults' and young children's intuitions about ownership. Tulane Law Review, 83, 679-690.
  • Friedman, O. & Petrashek, A.R. (2009). Children do not follow the rule ‘ignorance means getting it wrong’. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 102, 114-121.
  • Friedman, O. (2008). First possession: An assumption guiding inferences about who owns what. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 15, 290-295.
  • Friedman, O., & Neary, K.R. (2008). Determining who owns what: Do children infer ownership from first possession? Cognition, 107, 829-849.
  • Friedman, O., & Leslie, A.M. (2007). The conceptual underpinnings of pretense: Pretending is not 'behaving-as-if'. Cognition, 105, 103-124.
  • Bosco, F.M., Friedman, O., & Leslie, A.M. (2006). Recognition of pretend and real actions in play by one- and two-year-olds: Early success and why they fail (PDF). Cognitive Development, 21, 3-10.
  • Griffin, R., Friedman, O., Ween, J., Winner, E., Happé, F. & Brownell, H. (2006). Theory of Mind and the Right Cerebral Hemisphere: Refining the scope of impairment (PDF). Laterality, 11, 195-225.
  • Friedman, O., & Leslie, A.M. (2005). A developmental shift in processes underlying successful belief-desire reasoning (PDF)Developmental Science, 8, 218-225.
  • Friedman, O., & Leslie, A.M. (2004). A developmental shift in processes underlying successful belief-desire reasoning (PDF). Cognitive Science, 28, 963-977.
  • Leslie, A.M., Friedman, O., & German, T. P. (2004). Core mechanisms in 'theory of mind' (PDF). Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 8, 528-533.
  • Friedman, O. & Leslie, A.M. (2004). Mechanisms of belief-desire reasoning: Inhibition and bias (PDF). Psychological Science, 15, 547-552.
  • Friedman, O., Griffin, R., Brownell, H. & Winner, E. (2003). Problems with the seeing = knowing rule (PDF). Developmental Science, 6, 505-513.
  • Brownell, H., & Friedman, O. (2001). Discourse ability in patients with unilateral left and right hemisphere brain damage. In R. S. Berndt (Ed.),  Handbook of Neuropsychology, 2nd edition, Vol. 3. (pp. 189-203). Amsterdam: Elsevier.
  • Brownell, H., Griffin, R., Winner, E., Friedman, O., & Happe, F. (2000). Cerebral lateralization and theory of mind. In S. Baron-Cohen, H. Tager-Flusberg, & D. J. Cohen (Eds.),  Understanding other minds: Perspectives from autism and developmental cognitive neuroscience, 2nd edition (pp. 311-338). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
University of Waterloo

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