The Markman Lab

Principal Investigator

Ellen M. Markman

Building 420, Room 282

Ellen M. Markman is the Lewis M. Terman Professor at Stanford. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2003 and to the National Academy of Sciences in 2011. She is a recipient of the American Psychological Association’s Division 7 Outstanding Mentoring Award and the American Psychological Society’s William James Lifetime Achievement Award for Basic Research.

Ellen’s research interests include the relationship between language and thought; early word learning; categorization and induction; theory of mind and pragmatics; implicit theories and conceptual change.

Ellen is especially interested in working with new students on how theory-based explanations can be effective interventions in health domains. Please see the Gripshover and Markman paper as an example of this approach.

selected publications

Graduate Students

Marianna Zhang

Building 420, Room 290

I'm a final-year graduate student interested in how children learn to carve up the social world into social categories, and the role that language plays in that process. Social categories such as gender and race structure so much of our human experience in the world, yet we aren't born knowing what they are. How do we learn what social categories are meaningful in our social context? How do we learn what it means to be a member of a particular social category, and what norms and expectations to accordingly deploy? And in learning about social categories, what sources of information do children draw on, particularly in the way we talk and use language?

Previously, I studied psychology and philosophy at the University of Chicago, where I worked with Daniel Casasanto in the Experience & Cognition Lab on the role of bodily experience in understanding language. During various summers, I also worked with Susan Carey at the Harvard Laboratory for Developmental Studies on language and the development of category representations, and with Frank Keil at the Yale Cognition and Development Lab on biases in causal reasoning and decision-making. I'm originally from New York, and will begrudingly admit the Bay Area has nicer weather.

Kayla Good

Building 420, Room 294

I'm a fifth-year graduate student co-advised by Ellen Markman and Carol Dweck. Broadly, I'm interested in how subtle cues in the environment (particularly those embedded in language) influence our representations of ourselves and others. For instance, how and why do particular phrasings of feedback (e.g., whether we're told "You're a hard worker!" vs. "You work hard!") influence the messages we extract from it? And how do these messages, in turn, influence the ways in which we act on the world (and interact with others)? I'm also interested in investigating how various framings of preventative health messages lend themselves to different pragmatic inferences and how this influences people's health-related decision-making.

Prior to starting my graduate studies at Stanford, I worked as a lab manager for the Developmental Investigations of Behavior and Strategy (DIBS) Lab at the University of Chicago, where I worked with Alex Shaw on studies exploring children's developing understanding of reputational and intrinsic motives. In ongoing work, we are investigating whether children use others' decision time to make inferences about their preferences. I earned a BA in Psychology from Reed College, where I worked with Jennifer Corpus on research examining how subtle linguistic cues embedded in praise influence third parties' reactions to others' success and failure. During my undergraduate studies, I spent a summer as a research assistant in the Yale Cognition and Development Lab under the supervision of Richard Ahl and Frank Keil.

David Rose

I’m a graduate student working with Ellen Markman. I also work with Tobi Gerstenberg in the Causality in Cognition Lab. My research is mainly focused on causal reasoning and categorization. For causal reasoning, my recent work has focused on the development of different causal verbs, such as “burn” and “break”, as well as “cause”, and how this language maps onto different kinds of causes. For categorization, much of my recent work has explored the role of teleological thinking (i.e., thinking about the purpose or function of things) in categorization. To take just one example, some of my work has explored the ways in which providing information about what things, such as artifacts and animals, are for can help children override their reliance on perceptual similarity in categorization.

I did my undergraduate work at Ohio University where I studied philosophy and psychology. I was supervised by the late Mark Alicke and worked together with him the role of blame in causal judgment. I then went to Carnegie Mellon University and worked with David Danks on causation. From there, I then went to Rutgers where I eared a PhD in Philosophy under the supervision of Stephen Stich and Jonathan Schaffer. My dissertation research was focused on the role of teleological thinking in judgments about object composition and persistence and the epistemic consequences of this for debates about the nature of material objects.

Undergraduate Students

Linda Liu

Research Assistant

I'm currently a senior from Texas studying Symbolic Systems with a focus in Cognitive Science. I love working with kids, and I am particularly interested in how children learn, especially in relation to language and language acquisition. I am fascinated by how young learners pick up an understanding of the environment around them so quickly and how the language used by people around them affects these children's perceptions. I'm thrilled to be working in the Markman Lab and am so excited to learn from everyone around me!

Sachin Allums

Research Assistant

I am a current junior from Austin, Texas studying Symbolic Systems with a minor in Education at Stanford. I hope to one day become an educator, and because of this, a lot of my free time is dedicated to working with kids and learning about how their brains develop. I have a special interest in how to incorporate social justice curriculum into the classroom, specifically with how we teach students about Critical Race Theory, and I am extremely excited to explore my interests in these topics as well as education and psychology more broadly in the Markman Lab.

Emily Rinehart

Research Assistant

I’m currently a senior from Oregon, majoring in Psychology with minors in Linguistics and Sociology. I absolutely adore working with children, and I can’t wait to delve into the field of Developmental Psychology! I’m particularly interested in how the language that children grow up with and hear influences their perceptions of social categories. I’m excited to be working in the Markman lab and get hands-on research experience working with children!

Recent lab alumni

Graduate student and postdoc alumni

Research assistant alumni