The Markman Lab

Principal Investigator

Ellen M. Markman

markman@stanford.edu

phone: 650-725-2427

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

Cai Guo

caiguo@stanford.edu

web.stanford.edu/~caiguo/

Building 420, Room 290


Categorization is one of our indispensable cognitive tools for making sense of the world. However, the biases, such as psychological essentialism, that exist in the processes of categorization can lead to unwanted consequences, especially in the social domain. For example, we often make assumptions about a familiar category that might not apply to the category’s “atypical” members whom we might judge negatively simply because they do not neatly fit our preconceptions about that category. How can we “outsmart” these cognitive biases we are so prone to in conducting categorization? How should we reason about category boundaries and fuzziness? Is it possible to revolutionize the system of concepts, which are mental representations of categories? And what role does language play in the cognitive processes of categorization? These are the questions I am deeply interested in. Recently, I’ve been contemplating upon the relationships between generic language and category normativity, the connections between categories and their properties, and the alternatives to the dichotomous view of certain categories. In the long run, I hope to apply my research to helping the LGBTQ community, especially in regard to people’s attitudes toward gender non-conformity.

Before coming to Stanford, I earned my BA in Psychology from Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA in 2016. During my undergraduate study, I worked as a summer research assistant under Susan Carey in the Harvard Lab for Developmental Studies and under Yarrow Dunham in the Yale Social Cognitive Development Lab.

Marianna Zhang

marianna.zhang@stanford.edu

mariannazhang.github.io

Building 420, Room 290


I'm a third-year graduate student interested in how children learn representations of 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 culture? 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

kagood@stanford.edu

Building 420, Room 294


I'm a second-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.

Undergraduate Students

Amy Miyahara

PsychSummer Summer Intern

amymhara@stanford.edu

I'm a rising junior from Diamond Bar, CA, studying psychology and potentially minoring in education. I'm currently the 2021 PsychSummer intern at the Markman Lab working under Marianna Zhang. So far at Stanford, I've most enjoyed learning about developmental psychology, and am especially interested in learning more about how children develop conceptions of social categories. I'm also interested in how developmental psychology research can be used to create the most effective educational environments. I'm so excited to get to work in the Markman Lab and am looking forward to gaining more research skills and experience!

Alex Riklin

Research Assistant

ariklin@stanford.edu

I’m a sophomore at Stanford University planning to major in Psychology with minors in Comparative Literature and Languages. Having no experience but a huge interest in developmental psychology as a whole and in the fascinating past and ongoing projects at the Markman Lab, I decided to join as a research assistant in Spring 2021 working under Marianna Zhang. I am extremely interested in the role of language in shaping children’s perceptions of wider societal issues like gender and race in early development. My work at the Markman Lab so far has been a perfect intersection between my passion for language, working with children and a wide range of psychological concepts and ideas.

Recent lab alumni

Graduate student and postdoc alumni

Research assistant alumni