Philip Johnson-Laird
Human Neuroscience
Human Neuroscience

Stuart Professor of Psychology, Emeritus

Ph.D., University College London, 1967


phil@princeton.edu
Research Lab
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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

  • Johnson-Laird, P.N. Reasoning. In Cummings, L. (Ed.) Pragmatics Encyclopedia. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
  • Johnson-Laird, P.N. The truth about conditionals. In Manktelow, K., Over, D.E., and Elqayam, S. (Eds.) The Science of Reason: A Festschrift for Jonathan St.B.T. Evans. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
  • Byrne, R.M.J., and Johnson-Laird, P.N. Conditionals and possibilities. In Oaksford, M. (Ed.) The Psychology of Conditionals. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Girotto, V., and Johnson-Laird, P.N. Conditionals and probability. In Oaksford, M. (Ed.) The Psychology of Conditionals. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Johnson-Laird, P.N. Mental models and language. In Hogan, P. (Ed.) Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language Sciences. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Fumero, A., Santamaría, C., & Johnson-Laird, P. (in press). Formas de pensar: efecto de la personalidad en el razonamiento. Psicothema.
  • Byrne, R.M.J., and Johnson-Laird, P.N. (2009) ‘If’ and the problems of conditionalreasoning. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 13, 282-286.
  • McCloy, R., Byrne, R.M.J., and Johnson-Laird, P.N. Understanding cumulative risk. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. in press.
  • Johnson-Laird, P.N. (2009) Reasoning. In Rabbitt, P. (Ed.) Inside Psychology: A Science over 50 Years. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pp. 167-177.
  • Walsh, C.R., and Johnson-Laird, P.N. (2009) Changing your mind. Memory & Cognition, 37, 624-631.
  • Khemlani, S., and Johnson-Laird, P.N. (2009) Disjunctive illusory inferences and how to eliminate them. Memory & Cognition, 37, 615-623.
  • Johnson-Laird, P.N., Byrne, R.M.J., and Girotto, V. (2009) The mental model theory of conditionals. Topoi, 28(1), 75-80.
  • Bucciarelli, M., Khemlani, S., and Johnson-Laird, P.N. (2008) The psychology of moral reasoning. Judgment and Decision Making, 3(2), 121-139.
  • Kroger, J.K., Nystrom, L.E., Cohen, J.D., and Johnson-Laird, P.N. (2008) Distinct neural substrates for deductive and mathematical processing. Brain Research, 1243, 86-103.
  • Lee, N.Y.L., Goodwin, G.P., and Johnson-Laird, P.N. (2008) The psychological problem of Sudoku. Thinking & Reasoning, 14, 342-364.
  • Johnson-Laird, P.N. (2008) How we reason: A view from psychology. The Reasoner, 2, 4-5.
  • Goodwin, G.P., and Johnson-Laird, P.N. (2008) Transitive and pseudo-transitive inferences. Cognition, 108, 320-352.
  • Khemlani, S., and Johnson-Laird, P.N. (2008). Illusory inferences about embedded disjunctions. In Love, B.C., McRae, K., & Sloutsky, V.M. (Eds.), Proceedings of the 30th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 64-70). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.
  • Johnson-Laird, P.N. (2008) Mental models and deductive reasoning. In Rips, L. and Adler. J. (Eds.): Reasoning: Studies in Human Inference and Its Foundations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pp. 206-222.
  • Johnson-Laird, P.N., and Oatley, K.J., (2008) Emotions, music, and literature. In Lewis, M., Haviland-Jones, J., and Feldman-Barrett, L.F. (Eds.) Handbook of Emotions, third edition. New York: Guilford Press. Pp. 102-113.
  • Johnson-Laird, P.N., and Yang, Y. (2008) Mental logic, mental models, and computer simulations of human reasoning. In Sun, R. (Ed.) Cambridge Handbook of Computational Psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pp. 339-358.
  • Johnson-Laird, P.N., and Goldvarg-Steingold, E. (2007) Models of cause and effect. In Schaeken, W., Vandierendonck, A., Schroyens, W., and d'Ydewalle, G. (Eds.) The Mental Models Theory of Reasoning: Refinement and Extensions. Mahwah, N.J.: Erlbaum. Pp. 167-189.
  • Frosch, C.A., Johnson-Laird, P.N., and Cowley, M. (2007) It’s not My Fault, Your Honor, I’m Only the Enabler. In D. S. McNamara & J. G. Trafton (Eds.), Proceedings of the 29th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, 1755.
  • Khemlani, S., and Johnson-Laird, P.N. (2007) Thinking about algorithms. In D. S. McNamara & J. G. Trafton (Eds.), Proceedings of the 29th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, 1786.
  • Mancini, F., Gangemi A., and Johnson-Laird P.N. (2007) Il ruolo del ragionamento nella Psicopatologia secondo la Hyper Emotion Theory. Giornale Italiano di Psicologia, 4, 763-793.
  • Jahn, G., Knauff, M., and Johnson-Laird, P.N. (2007) Preferred mental models in reasoning about spatial relations. Memory & Cognition, 35, 2075-2086.
  • Johnson-Laird, P.N. (2006) How We Reason. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Johnson-Laird, P.N., Mancini, F., & Gangemi, A. (2006) A hyper emotion theory of psychological illnesses. Psychological Review, 113, 822-841.
  • Johnson-Laird, P.N. (2006) Models and heterogeneous reasoning. Journal of Experimental & Theoretical Artificial Intelligence, 20,121-148.
  • Lee, N.Y.L., Goodwin, G.P., and Johnson-Laird, P.N. (2006) The psychology of Su Doku problems. Proceedings of the 28th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, 2543.
  • Newsome, M.R., & Johnson-Laird, P.N. (2006) How falsity dispels fallacies. Thinking & Reasoning, 12, 214-234.
  • Johnson-Laird, P.N. (2006) Mental models, sentential reasoning, and illusory inferences. In Held, C., Vosgerau, G., and Knauff, M. (Eds.) Mental Models and the Mind. New York: Elsevier. Pp. 27-52.
  • Lee, N.Y.L., and Johnson-Laird, P.N. (2006) Are there cross-cultural differences in reasoning? Proceedings of the 28th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive ScienceSociety, 459-464.
  • Frosch, C.A., and Johnson-Laird, P.N. (2006) The revisions of beliefs about causes and enabling conditions. Proceedings of the 28th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, 1329-1333.
  • Johnson-Laird, P.N. (2001) Mental models and deduction. Trends in Cognitive Science, 5, 434-442.
  • Johnson-Laird, P.N., Legrenzi, P., Girotto, P., and Legrenzi, M.S. (2000) Illusions in reasoning about consistency. Science, 288, 531-532.

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