Welcome to the Categorization and Reasoning Lab at Northeastern University!

In the Categorization and Reasoning laboratory, we seek to expand the bounds of traditional research in cognitive psychology by answering the following questions:

  • How do humans organize different kinds of object concepts into coherent conceptual systems?
  • How do these conceptual structures interact with explanatory theories and causal principles?
  • How do these conceptual structures support and constrain inductive reasoning?
  • How are differences in culture and expertise reflected in these processes?
  • How do these processes develop?

We seek to answer questions about the basic cognitive processes of categorization, reasoning, and conceptual development. Three themes run through this research:

The first, Domain Specificity, is the idea that cognitive processes may differ substantially as a function of what kinds of objects are being thought about. To date we have focused on the domain of folk biology, which encompasses how humans conceptualize the natural world of plants and animals, but we are beginning to systematically examine thinking in other domains.

A second theme is Comparative Research. By examining little-studied populations who differ markedly in terms of culture and relevant experience, we hope to expand the data base from which theoretical accounts of categorization and reasoning are drawn, and to work toward identifying universal and variable aspects of these basic cognitive processes.

The third theme stresses the importance of a Developmental Perspective. Human cognition is best seen as a dynamic process that is constantly evolving and unfolding over time, rather than static set of rules or structures. No understanding of cognition is complete without an account of how conceptual processes change over time

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  • Contact Us

    Principle Investigator
    John D. Coley, Ph.D., Associate Professor
    Department of Psychology
    Northeastern University
    360 Huntington Ave., MS 0125 NI
    Boston, MA 02115-5000
    617.373.3548 (voice)
    617.373.8714 (fax)

    Coop Research Coordinator
    Stephanie Silveira
    Categorization & Reasoning Lab
    4th Floor, Nightingale Hall
    Department of Psychology
    Boston, MA 02115-5000
    617.373.4493 (voice)
    617.373.8714 (fax)