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Gina Mireault

Gina Mireault
Professor, Chair, Psychology and Human Services
McClelland Hall, Room 210
Academic History:

Ph.D, Developmental Psychology, University of Vermont
M.A., Developmental Psychology, University of Vermont
B.A., Psychology University of Vermont

About Gina Mireault

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.

NVU 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,”, 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.”

Read a recent article about the Laughing Baby study in the Wall Street Journal, as well.

Selected Publications

  • Mireault, G. C., Rainville, B. S., Laughlin, B. (2018). Push or Carry? Pragmatic Opportunities for Language Development in Strollers vs. Backpacks.Infancy, 1-9, DOI: 10.1111/infa.12238
  • Mireault, G., Crockenberg, S., Heilman, K., Sparrow, J., Cousineau, K., & Rainville, B.
  • (2017). Social, cognitive, and physiological aspects of humor perception from 4- to 8 months: Two longitudinal studies. British Journal of Developmental Psychology. DOI 10.1111/bjdp.12216
  • Gartstein, M. A., Prokasky, A., Bell, M.A., Calkins, S., Bridgett, D., Braungart-Rieker, J., Leerkes, E., Cheatham, C., Eiden, R., Mize, K., Jones, N., Mireault, G., & Seamon, E. (2017). Latent profile and cluster analysis of infant temperament: Comparisons across person-centered approaches. Developmental Psychology, 53(10), 1811-1825. DOI: 10.1037/dev0000382
  • Mireault, G. C. & Reddy, V. (2016). Humor in infancy: Developmental and Psychological Perspectives. New York: Springer. Retrieved from
  • Mireault, G. & Crockenberg, S. (2016). Social referencing. In D. L. Couchenour & K. Chrisman (Eds.), The SAGE Encyclopedia of Contemporary Early Childhood Education (pp. 1242-1245). Boston: Sage.
  • Mireault, G., Crockenberg, S., Sparrow, J., Cousineau, K., Pettinato, C., & Woodard, K. (2015). Laughing matters: Infant humor perception in the context of parental effect. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 136, 30-41.
  • Reddy, V. & Mireault, G. (in press). “Teasing and Clowning in Infants.” Current Biology.
  • Mireault, G., Crockenberg, S., Sparrow, J., Pettinato, C., Woodard, K., & Malzac, K. (2014). “Social Looking, Social Referencing and Humor Perception in 6- and 12-Month-Old infants.” Infant Behavior and Development, 37(4), 536-545. (DOI: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2014.06.004)
  • Mireault, G., Sparrow, J., Poutre, M., & Perdue, B. (2012) “Infant Humor Perception from 3- to 6-months and Attachment at One Year.” Infant Behavior and Development, 35, 797-802.
  • Mireault, G., Poutre, M., Sargent-Hier, M., & Dias, C. (2012) “Humor Perception and Creation Between Parents and 3- to 6-month-old Infants.” Infant and Child Development, 21(4), 338-347 (DOI: 10.1002/icd.757).
  • Mireault, G. Rooney, S., Kouwenhoven, K., and Hannan, C. (2008). “Oppositional Behavior and Anxiety in Boys and Girls: A Cross-Sectional Study in Two Community Samples.” Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 39 (4), 519-527.
  • Taylor, D. and Mireault, G. (2008). “Mindfulness and Self-Regulation Among Short-Term and Long-Term Meditators.” Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 40, 88-99.
  • Mireault, G. & Trahan, J. (2007). “Tantrums and Anxiety in Early Childhood: A Pilot Study.” Early Childhood Research & Practice, 9(2). Retrieved Oct. 31, 2007, from
  • Mireault, G., Thomas, T. and Bearor, K. (2002). “Maternal Identity Among Motherless Mothers and Psychological Symptoms in Their Firstborn Children.” Journal of Child and Family Studies, 11, 287-297.
  • Mireault, G., Bearor, K., and Thomas, T. (2002). “Adult Romantic Attachment Among Women Who Experienced Childhood Maternal Loss.” Omega: the Journal of Death and Dying, 44, 97-104.

Professional Activities

  • Association for Psychological Science
  • Freelance feature writer for articles on animal psychology, American Kennel Club
  • Research Consultant, Bright Starts
  • NVU-Johnson Institutional Review Board, Chair

Research Interests

  • Infant social cognition and emotional regulation (via humor perception and creation)
  • Child and adolescent oppositional behavior as a manifestation of anxiety (temper tantrums)
  • Parental loss in childhood and adult depression and anxiety

Awards and Honors