Rachel Severson, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Montana, is the director of the Minds Lab, where she and her research team investigate how children attribute minds and internal states to human and non-human others, such as animals and robots – what is referred to as anthropomorphism.
In her talk, “Screen Time and Green Time: Effects of Increased Technology on Children’s Development,” Severson will explore current times in which 89 percent of teens have smartphones and 70 percent use social media multiple times each day. She will review implications of increased pervasiveness of technologies, decreased time in nature and the effects on children’s physical and cognitive development.
One focus of her research is pretense, whereby children are just pretending, much in the way they do with stuffed animals and other toys.
In addition to teaching and research, Severson is director of UM’s Experimental Psychology Doctoral Program.
She holds a Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the University of Washington. Prior to joining the UM faculty in 2016, she was a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of British Columbia, an instructor at Western Washington University and a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Oslo.