Betty Repacholi

Image of Betty Repacholi

Betty Repacholi, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
(206) 616-9543
Advising: Possibly accepting new graduate students in 2024-2025, please email with questions.
Interests: Social-cognitive and social-emotional development during infancy and early childhood.


Emotion is the broad unifying theme that ties together most of my research. Thus, I have research interests in such seemingly diverse areas as theory of mind; the parent-child attachment relationship; and the ontogeny of the human disgust response. However, my main focus has been infants’ understanding of other people's emotional expressions.
Emotion understanding is a complex, multi-faceted ability. Consequently, I have found it useful in my research program to study the specific skills that might be required in order to make sense of another person’s expression. For example, one of these skills is the ability to appreciate that emotions are often expressed in response to specific events. My research has indicated that, by 14 months of age, infants are able to use attentional cues (e.g., gaze direction) to determine what a person is emoting about. Another important skill is recognizing that different people can have different emotional responses about the exact same object or event. My work has shown that infants begin to understand the subjectivity of emotions by around 18 months of age.
More recently, I have explored infants’ ability to engage in “emotional eavesdropping – that is, their ability to learn about the world simply from watching and listening to other people’s emotional interactions. My research has shown that infants as young as 15 months of age can engage in this type of “socially-guided” learning. This is an important ability because it will often enable infants to avoid the negative outcomes that might arise if they were to directly investigate a situation themselves.


University of California-Berkeley (1996)