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About Dr. Ruth Tincoff



Developmental psychology, cognitive psychology, language and cognitive development during infancy, parenting/care-giving practices.

Personal Statement

I teach courses on developmental and cognitive psychology, general psychology, and psychological science/research methods. My teaching philosophy is borrowed directly from what we have learned about human cognition and development - we are naturally curious information seekers. For students taking classes with me, your curiosity, what you already know, and the work you do with me and other students are all essential parts of your learning.

In my research, I investigate how infants understand words before they can talk. I examine how infants use perceptual and social cues from caregivers to build the beginnings of their comprehension vocabulary. I also examine how caregivers and infants together create dynamic social events (e.g., feeding or dressing routines) that are the ecology for language development. Students are essential collaborators on this research and learn a variety of scientific and practical skills. You can click here to learn more about the Parent & Baby Project.


  • B.A., 1994, Wayne State University, Honors Psychology and Linguistics
  • Ph.D., 2001 and M.A., 1998, Johns Hopkins University, Cognitive Developmental Psychology
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, 2001 – 2004, Harvard University, NIH Individual Postdoctoral National Research Service Award


Seidl, A., Tincoff, R., Baker, C., & Cristia, A. (2015). Why the body comes first: effects of experimenter touch on infants’ word finding. Developmental Science, 18(1), 155–164. doi: 10.1111/desc.12182
Tincoff, R. & Jusczyk, P.W. (2012). Six-month-olds comprehend words that refer to parts of the body. Infancy, 17(4), 432-444. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-7078.2011.00084.x
Tincoff, R., Hauser, M., Tsao, F., Spaepen, G., Ramus, F., & Mehler, J. (2005). The role of speech rhythm in language discrimination: Further tests with a nonhuman primate. Developmental Science, 8(1), 26-35. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2005.00390.x
Tincoff, R. & Jusczyk, P. W. (1999). Some beginnings of word comprehension in six-month-olds. Psychological Science, 10, 172-175. doi: 10.1111/1467-9280.00127. Reprinted in D. Muir & A. Slater (Eds.), Infant development: The essential readings (pp. 270-278). Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers, 2000.
Treiman, R., Tincoff, R., Rodriguez, K., Simou-Mouzaki, A., & Francis, D. J. (1998). The foundations of literacy: Learning the sounds of letters. Child Development, 69(6), 1524-1537.
Treiman, R., Goswami, U.,  Tincoff, R., & Leevers, H. (1997). The effects of dialect on American and British children's spelling. Child Development, 68(2), 229-245.