Gina Mireault, a longtime professor of psychology at JSC, earned her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Vermont in 1992.
For more than 20 years, Dr. Mireault’s research has focused on various aspects of emotional development in childhood, including childhood grief from parental loss and temper tantrums as a manifestation of childhood anxiety. Her current research focuses on the perception and creation of humor in infants from 3 to 12 months old. Her research addresses the riddle that most parents encounter: how do babies know what’s funny? This research has serious implications for understanding critical developmental milestones, such as whether infants are capable of a “theory of mind,” whether humor can contribute to attachment security with parents, and whether infants rely on parental emotion to interpret ambiguous — primarily humorous — events and regulate their own emotional responses to those events.
JSC students serve as research assistants for this work and regularly accompany Dr. Mireault to professional conferences to present their findings.
Dr. Mireault has presented at major peer-reviewed conferences, including the Society for Research in Child Development, the International Conference on Infant Studies, the European Conference on Developmental Psychology, and the Jean Piaget Society. She has been an invited lecturer for the International Summer School for the Psychology of Humor and for the British Psychological Society - Developmental Section. Her research has been published in a variety of peer-reviewed journals, including Infant and Child Development and Infant Behavior and Development, and she has been cited and interviewed in multiple national and international news outlets and magazines, including The Huffington Post, Science Daily, New York magazine’s “Science of Us,” CNN.com, WebMD, The Daily Telegraph, American Baby, Parenting, and Salon. She and her work also have appeared on the NBC Nightly News, NPR’s “The Takeaway,” and PBS’s “NOVA Science Now.”