Julian Jara-Ettinger


Assistant Professor of Psychology and Computer Science
Office Address:
2 Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511
Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 208205
New Haven, CT 06520
Phone: (203) 432-7904
Email: julian.jara-ettinger@yale.edu
  • Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • B.S., Universidad Michoacana


I study the fundamental representations and computations that underlie our ability to navigate the social and physical world. My work spans across ages, cultures, and clinical populations, but my primary focus is on early childhood. My research combines behavioral studies with mathematical models and computer simulations to develop and test cognitive theories. To date, much of my work specifically looks at how we represent and reason about other people's minds and on how we infer what they know, think, and want.

Selected Awards & Honors:

  • Robert J. Glushko Prize for Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation (2017)
  • SRCD Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award (2017)
  • Glushko Student Travel Award, Cognitive Science Society (2015)
  • Angus MacDonald Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (2013)
  • Cosyne Travel Award (2012)
  • Singleton Graduate Fellowship (2011 & 2012)
  • Honorable Mention at ACM international collegiate programming contest, Mexico and Central America (2007 & 2009)


Selected Publications:

  • Jara-Ettinger, J., Gweon, H., Schulz, L. E., & Tenenbaum, J.B. (2016). The naive utility calculus: Computational principles underlying commonsense psychology. Trends in Cognitive Sciences.
  • Velez-Ginorio, J., Siegel, M., Tenenbaum, J.B., & Jara-Ettinger, J. (2017). Interpreting actions by attributing compositional desires. Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society.
  • Jara-Ettinger, J., Tenenbaum, J. B., & Schulz, L. E. (2015). Not so innocent: Toddlers' reasoning about costs, competence, and culpability. Psychological Science.
  • Jara-Ettinger, J., Gibson, E., Kidd, C., & Piantadosi, S. T. (2015). Native Amazonian children forego egalitarianism in merit based tasks when they learn to count. Developmental Science.