The Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition was established at UCSD in 1978. As its name implies, members of LCHC pursue research which takes differences among human beings as a starting point for understanding human mental processes. We adopt an ecological approach to our subject matter, looking at systems that include mediating tools, people, representations, institutions and activities. Populations varying in age, culture, biological characteristics, social class, schooling, ethnicity, etc. are studied in a wide range of activity settings in various social institutions (schools, hospitals, workplaces) and countries. Correspondingly, we use a wide range of methods (such as participant observation, ethnography, experimentation, discourse-analysis) to bring into clear relief the role of culturally inflected collective social practices, change over time, and the cultural-historical context of the people among whom we work in the phenomena we study.
In keeping with the ethos of our orientation, we create interventions (sometimes referred to as “design experiments”) both as a means of initiating changes thought to be beneficial in the settings where we do our research and as a means of assessing the generalizability of findings from more restricted laboratory settings. We find comparisons across the different realms in which we conduct research and the continual confrontation of theory with practice to be powerful sources of insight and theoretical development.
International collaboration in research is fundamental to understanding human cognition. Hence, in addition to using computers and computer networking as a research tool, we use these same means to promote discussion and collaboration among geographically distant people. We invite anyone interested in our efforts to contact us through any of the people whose information is contained in these pages.