Steven Pinker

Harvard University

Primary Section: 52, Psychological and Cognitive Sciences
Secondary Section: 53, Social and Political Sciences
Membership Type:
Member (elected 2016)


Steven Pinker is an experimental psychologist who has done research in visual cognition, psycholinguistics, and social relations, and has written widely on language, mind, and human nature. He grew up in Montreal, and earned his Bachelor’s degree from McGill University and his PhD from Harvard. Currently Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, he has also taught at Stanford and MIT, where he directed the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. His research has won the Troland Prize from NAS and prizes from the Royal Institution of Great Britain, the American Psychological Association, the Association for Psychological Science, and the Cognitive Neuroscience Society. He has also received several teaching awards, and numerous prizes for his nine books, including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, Words and Rules, The Blank Slate, The Better Angels of Our Nature, and The Sense of Style. He has been a Pulitzer Prize finalist twice, Humanist of the Year, and one of Foreign Policy’s “World’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals” Time’s “100 Most Influential People in the World Today.” He is Chair of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary, and writes frequently for The New York Times, The Guardian, Time, and other publications.

Research Interests

Steven Pinker conducts research on a variety of topics in psychology and cognitive science, including common knowledge (things that everyone knows everyone knows), language acquisition, emotion, the moral sense, rationality, and trends in violence.

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