Marek Meristo

Senior Lecturer

Department of
Visiting address
Haraldsgatan 1
41314 Göteborg
Postal address
Box 500
40530 Göteborg

About Marek Meristo


Ph.D. in Psychology, University of Gothenburg, 2007. Marie Curie research fellow at University of Trento, Italy, 2011-2014. Researcher, Kyoto University, Japan, 2014. Researcher, University of Gothenburg, since 2008. Researcher, City University London, since 2017. Senior lecturer, University of Gothenburg, since 2018.

Research interests

I study the development of social cognition, particularly how children growing up in different social contexts develop their understanding of other people, and what are the very basic social concepts that enable the cultural learning. Much of my research is devoted to studying preverbal deafness, where children have very limited access to communication and no opportunities to learn from their environment. More recent research includes also traditional small-scale societies, where children are introduced to different social concepts and learn from an environment with different social practices.

Current research

On the origins of theory of mind – conversational input and belief attribution in deaf/hard-of-hearing and hearing infants. This study examines early interaction involving deaf / hearing parents and their deaf / hearing pre-school children. Specifically, we look at how conversations about mental states contribute to the development of theory of mind (ToM). ToM is the ability to understand our own and others’ inner experiences in terms of mental states such as beliefs and desires, it contributes to sophisticated forms of human interaction and provides a basis for understanding others’ actions. Our results underscore the impact of experiential learning in the form of early language-based dialogue on the foundational and implicit understanding of mental-state driven actions.

On the origins of fairness: Infants’ expectations of distributive justice in traditional non-Western societies. The aim of this project is to test the hypothesis that infants’ sense of fairness emerges as part of an evolved adaptation for moral reasoning that is universal to the humans. We will do this by including infants and toddlers from traditional, small-scale, non-Western societies from Samburu and Luo ethnic groups from Kenya, and from the Marquesan Islands in French Polynesia, as well as two groups from Western countries, i.e. Sweden and the US. Infants will see short non-verbal cartoon movies about resource distribution and their competence will be measured via their eye movements and looking times with a portable near infrared eye tracker. The project is expected to provide new data to contribute to the ongoing debate about the human moral origins.