Culture, Language & Cognition
Prof. Asifa Majid
Research in the Culture, Language & Cognition (CLiC) Lab seeks to uncover which aspects of cognition are common to all humans, and what role culture, environment, and experience play in shaping cognitive processes. The CLiC Lab conducts research on:
Language and thought What is the relationship between language and thought? Are there universal thoughts expressed in all the world’s languages? If not, what accounts for those differences—culture, environment, history? Does language shape the way we think? There are 7,000 different languages in the world today that differ in myriad ways. We investigate the intricate relationships between language, culture, and cognition by taking a cross-linguistic approach. A primary focus is on under-described languages of the world.
Variation in perception What roles do culture and experience play in how we perceive and categorize the world? We investigate how different norms, values, and practices influence perception and emotion. This includes both cross-cultural and within-culture comparison, relying on different lifeways across the world, as well as distinct types of specialist knowledge (e.g., perfumers, wine experts), and variable experience, including differing sensorium (e.g., blind, deaf, anosmic).
Transmission of knowledge How is knowledge transmitted within and across cultures? We learn about the world from both direct embodied experience and indirectly through language. How do these different sources of information interact to shape our understanding of the world in an individual’s development and over generations? Of particular interest here is knowledge about nature, including landscapes, ecological knowledge, medicinal plants, and sustainable practices.