Portrait of Dr Angela Nyhout

Dr Angela Nyhout

Lecturer in Psychology

About

Dr Angela Nyhout completed her PhD in Psychology at the University of Waterloo (Canada), and a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Toronto. She joined the School of Psychology at the University of Kent as a Lecturer in 2020. 

Research interests

Angela’s main area of research is cognitive development. Her research is focused on the development of hypothetical reasoning, and children’s learning through engagement in hypothetical and fictional worlds. Most of her current work focuses on children’s counterfactual reasoning, reasoning about fictional worlds, and scientific hypothesis testing, and how these abilities contribute to learning in childhood. 

Although these abilities may seem distinct on the surface, at their core they share a requirement for the learner to temporarily hold as true a premise (e.g., “If the dinosaurs had not gone extinct…”) and make inferences on its basis. Hypothetical reasoning involves mentally simulating a possibility (i.e., forming a rich mental representation as if the premise were true). Angela’s work seeks to identify the underlying nature of these representations, and their consequences for learning (e.g., reading comprehension, science learning). Key questions of interest include:

  • What is the nature of children’s abilities to simulate possibilities? What is the relation between different abilities to simulate possibilities, such as counterfactual thinking and future hypothetical thinking?
  • Does engaging in hypothetical thinking (e.g., thought experiments) affect the inferences and decisions children make? When does new knowledge emerge from this process?
  • How can educators and parents foster children’s scientific reasoning practices (e.g., testing hypotheses, interpreting observations)?
  • When and why does engagement in fictional worlds (e.g., through storybooks) influence children’s beliefs, behaviour, and attitudes?  

Professional

Key publications

  • Nyhout, A. & Ganea, P.A. (2020). What is and what should never have been: Children’s causal and counterfactual thinking about the same events. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 192, 104773.
  • Nyhout, A. & Ganea, P.A. (2019). The development of the counterfactual imagination. Child Development Perspectives, 13, 254-259.
  • Nyhout, A. & Ganea, P.A. (2019). Mature counterfactual reasoning in 4- and 5-year-olds. Cognition, 183, 57-66.
  • Nyhout, A., Henke, L., & Ganea, P.A. (2019). Children’s counterfactual reasoning about causally overdetermined events. Child Development, 90, 610-622.

Grants and Awards

2019-2021A Nyhout (PI), P Ganea (CI)
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada 
Spontaneous counterfactual thinking in development
$46,965 CAD
2016A Nyhout (CI), D Buchsbaum (PI), P Ganea (CI)
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada 
Interdisciplinary Workshop on Counterfactual Reasoning
$8,764 CAD
2014-2015A Nyhout (PI)
Language Learning Dissertation Grant
$2198 CAD
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