Dr. Thalia R. Goldstein is Assistant Professor of Applied Developmental Psychology at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. Her work focuses on children’s developing social and emotional skills, particularly theory of mind, empathy, and emotional control and regulation, and how such skills intersect with children’s engagement in pretend play, theatre, drama, and other imaginative activities. She directs the SSIT lab (The Social Skills, Imagination, and Theatre Lab), which conducts research that looks at the effects of engaging in pretend play and theatre on children’s social-emotional skills, and at how children understand and learn social information in fictional worlds. She is also the co-director of the National Endowment for the Arts Research Lab, the Mason Arts Research Center (MasonARC).

Dr. Goldstein received a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology in 2010 from Boston College. She completed post-doctoral training at Yale University from 2010-2012 and was an assistant professor at Pace University for 4 years before joining the Psychology department at George Mason. Dr. Goldstein’s research has been funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, The John Templeton Foundation, the Caplan Foundation, Arts Connection, and the Department of Homeland Security. Her papers have appeared in Child Development, Developmental Review, Trends in Cognitive Science, Journal of Cognition and Development, and Developmental Science, among others. Dr. Goldstein serves on the editorial boards of the journals Empirical Studies in the Arts and Imagination Cognition and Personality, and she is the current co-editor of the APA Division 10 Journal, Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, and she writes a blog for PsychologyToday.com entitled “The Mind On Stage”.

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Early Bird

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?


3 Do you have any pets?


4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?


5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?


6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?


7 Do you speak any other languages?


8 If you could switch professions, what would you do?

Dancer, Actor, Choreographer (although I tried that before, with not much success)

9 If you could switch science fields, what field would you want to work in?

Physics and Astronomy are so cool

10 If you got a plane ticket right now, where would it go?


11 If you had one superpower, what would it be?


12 Is there anything you strongly recommend we watch and/or read and/or listen to?

The Good Place, 13th, Still Processing podcast, SaltFatAcidHeat (book and show!)

13 It’s your day off. What do you want to do?

Trapeze class, lunch and walk in a park, dinner with friends

14 What are three things you can’t live without?

Yoga, My family, Structured to do lists

15 What beverage gives you life?

These days, a Negroni

16 What book did you read in school that positively shaped you?

Angels in America

17 What did you want to be when you grew up?


18 What drives you and keeps you going?

Finding out the answer to a question after so many years of asking. Inspiring and helping other people do the same thing for their questions.

19 What got you excited in science?

That there were methods and techniques to answer questions people said were “mysteries”

20 What excites you about science now?

People are seeing that science can be and should be for everyone, and the barriers to that need to be taken down.

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Backstage Vlogs from Broadway performers.

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

I can figure out the most efficient ways to run errands- both store to store and within store.

23 What is your favorite game?

Does running errands not count? Settlers of Catan.

24 What is the last book you read?

How to be Less Stupid about Race.

25 What is one of the best pieces of advice you’ve received?

If someone else can’t understand your writing, it’s on you to edit it until they can. Your writing should be accessible to anyone who wants to read and understand, not just to extreme experts in your field.

26 What is something you’ve always wanted to try but you’ve been too scared to do?

Not much- Living somewhere I don’t know the language

27 What is the best advice for your 18 year old self?

It’s going to be ok. Just keep going.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

Dinner with friends, a long night of laughing and conversation

29 What is the last thing you watched?

Cirque du soleil specials

30 What is the weirdest thing you’ve had in your bag?

I’m a Mom- so something small and plastic and covered in germs I’m sure.

31 What is your favorite animal?


32 What is your favorite book?

Recently- City of Girls

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

My Mom’s tacos.

34 What is your favorite day of the year?

My birthday

35 What is your favorite plant?

Water Lillies

36 What is your favorite science fact?

Infant humans attend to faces, know basic math, and understand helping way before we think they do.

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?

Fresh chocolate chip cookies.

39 What is your favorite sound?

Kangse bell

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

I am always open to trying new things and changing

41 What is your favorite word (in any language)?

Teleological – fun to say

42 What is your proudest moment?

Finishing my Ph.D.

43 What kind of tree would you be?


44 What’s the best thing about where you live?

Proximity to nature

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

A hawks salto on trapeze is my favorite trick- you swing out, then while swinging back, lift your legs into an upside down straddle. Then as you swing out again, you pop your legs onto the bar, hang by your knees, throw your chest backwards, let go of your legs, and flip 1 1/2 times. The timing on catching the trick depends on micro second movements from 3 people to work!

46 Who would you like to see 46 Questions interview next?