John Coley

Associate Professor Email: Phone: 617.373.3548


Ph.D. in Psychology (Developmental), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1993
M.A. in Psychology (Developmental), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1990
A.B. in Psychology, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, 1986, Magna Cum Laude

Areas of Expertise

Research Interests

In my lab, we study a host of interrelated questions about the structure of knowledge, reasoning, and conceptual development. How do we organize what we know? How do we use what we know to make guesses about what we don’t know? How do people decide what kind of knowledge is relevant in a particular situation? How does the acquisition of expertise influence how people organize and use knowledge? How do knowledge and reasoning change as children develop? How does growing up in different environments lead to different ways of thinking and reasoning about the world?

We take an experimental approach to answering these questions by systematically examining overt reasoning behavior in children and adults, as well as the processing that underlies such reasoning. By looking at how people think about rich real-world knowledge domains like plants and animals, food, and people, we strive to characterize the breadth, depth, and flexibility of human cognition.

Lab Website

Curriculum Vitae



125 Nightingale Hall

The thinking behind gender stereotypes

Adults and children hold equally stereotypical views about gender, according to new research from associate professor of psychology John Coley’s lab.

3Qs: Our fascination with mystery

Psychology professor John Coley discusses how the need for explanation can drive society – and perhaps the media – to be consumed with curiosity into the unknown, like with missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.