Kelsey Lucca

Asst Professor
TEMPE Campus


Kelsey Lucca is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology. Her research investigates the active role that infants and young children play in their own early cognitive and social development. She’s specifically interested in understanding how curiosity, or the drive to seek out information, shapes early learning experiences — with a specific focus on processes related to language acquisition. She also studies the evolutionary origins of cognition and communication.


  • Postdoctoral Research Associate. Department of Psychology, University of Washington 2017-2019
  • Ph.D. Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Duke University 2012-2017
  • B.S. Cognitive Science, University of Delaware 2008-2012

Google Scholar

Research Interests

Please visit my lab's website to learn more about my research:


Lucca, K., Gire, D., Horton, R., & Sommerville, J. (in press). Automated measures of force and motion can improve our understanding of infants’ motor persistence. Journal of Motor Development and Learning.

Lucca, K. The development of information-requesting gestures in infancy and their role in shaping learning outcomes. (in press). The Questioning Child: Insights from Psychology and Education. Butler, L., Ronfard., S., & Corriveau, K. (Eds.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Lucca, K., Hamlin, K., & Sommerville, J. (2019) Early moral cognition and behavior: Editorial. Frontiers in Psychology.

Lucca, K., Horton, R., & Sommerville, J. (2019) Keep Trying!: Parental language predicts infants’ persistence. Cognition.

Lucca, K., & Wilbourn, M.P. (2018). The what and the how: Information-seeking pointing gestures facilitate learning object labels and functions in 18-month-olds. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology

Lucca, K. & Sommerville, J. (2018) The little engine that can: Infants’ persistence matters. Trends in Cognitive Science.

Sommerville, J., Enright, E.*, Horton, R*., Lucca, K.*, Sitch, M., & Kirchner-Adelhardt, S. (2018) Infants’ prosocial behavior is governed by cost-benefit analyses. Cognition.
(*=equal contribution)

Lucca, K.,  Popisil, J, & Sommerville, J. (2018). Fairness informs social decision making in infancy. PLOS ONE.

Lucca, K., MacLean, E., & Hare, B. (2017) The development and flexibility of gaze alternations in bonobos and chimpanzees. Developmental Science. doi: 10.1111/desc.12598 *featured on journal cover

Lucca, K., & Wilbourn, M.P. (2016). Communicating to learn: Infants’ pointing gestures reflect an optimal state for learning. Child Development. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12707

Verdine, B.N., Lucca, K., Chang, A., Golinkoff, R. M., Newcombe, N.S., & Hirsh-Pasek, K. (2015). The shape of things: The origin of young children’s knowledge of the names and properties of geometric forms. Journal of Cognition and Development. 17(1): 142-161. doi: 10.1080/15248372.2015.1016610


Fall 2020
Course NumberCourse Title
PSY 399Supervised Research
PSY 499Individualized Instruction
PSY 591Seminar
Spring 2020
Course NumberCourse Title
PSY 399Supervised Research
PSY 499Individualized Instruction
PSY 591Seminar
Fall 2019
Course NumberCourse Title
PSY 399Supervised Research
PSY 441Cognitive Development
PSY 499Individualized Instruction