Asifa Majid

Asifa Majid

Professor of Cognitive Science

  • Fellow of St Hugh's College

Research summary

Humans are one species and yet we speak 7000 different, mutually unintelligible languages each hosted in distinct cultural niches. How does this diversity of language, culture, and experience affect how people think and behave? Research in my lab investigates the relationship between language, culture, and cognition by conducting studies with adults in different cultures and sub-cultures, and by tracing how concepts develop over a child’s lifetime in diverse cultural contexts. The goal is to establish which aspects of cognition are fundamentally shared, and which are language- or culture-specific. This work combines laboratory and field experiments, as well as in-depth linguistic studies and ethnographically-informed description. This coordinated approach has been used to study domains such as space, events, and perception, with a special interest in olfaction.

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