Can the sciences of the artificial positively contribute to the scientific exploration of life and cognition? Can they actually improve the scientific knowledge of natural living and cognitive processes, from biological metabolism to reproduction, from conceptual mapping of the environment to logic reasoning, language, or even emotional expression? To these kinds of questions our article aims to answer in the affirmative. Its main object is the scientific emergent methodology often called the “synthetic approach”, which promotes the programmatic production of embodied and situated models of living and cognitive systems in order to explore aspects of life and cognition not accessible in natural systems and scenarios. The first part of this article presents and discusses the synthetic approach, and proposes an epistemological framework which promises to warrant genuine transmission of knowledge from the sciences of the artificial to the sciences of the natural. The second part of this article looks at the research applying the synthetic approach to the psychological study of emotional development. It shows how robotics, through the synthetic methodology, can develop a particular perspective on emotions, coherent with current psychological theories of emotional development and fitting well with the recent “cognitive extension” approach proposed by cognitive sciences and philosophy of mind.