Philip Johnson-Laird
Human Neuroscience
Human Neuroscience

Stuart Professor of Psychology, Emeritus

Ph.D., University College London, 1967
Research Lab
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428 Peretsman-Scully Hall

Research Focus

My colleagues and I investigate thinking and reasoning, which we study using computational modeling and psychological experiments. In our theory, reasoning depends on the construction of mental models of possibilities. Inferences that call for only a single model of a possibility are easier than those that call for models of multiple possibilities. Models tend to represent only what is true, and, as a consequence, even the best reasoners succumb to systematic fallacies when falsity is at stake. Our recent studies have applied this theory to reverse engineering, to the detection and explanation of inconsistencies, to the acquisition of concepts, and to causal reasoning. Other recent research derives from a theory of emotions developed in collaboration with Keith Oatley. With psychiatric colleagues, Francesco Mancini and Amelia Gangemi, I have proposed a theory of psychological illnesses, such as phobias and depression: their cause is hyper emotional reactions rather than faulty thinking.

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Selected Publications

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