A. Kimball Romney

University of California, Irvine

Primary Section: 51, Anthropology
Membership Type:
Emeritus (elected 1995)


A Kimball Romney (born August 15, 1925) is an American social sciences professor and one of the founders of cognitive anthropology.  He spent most of his career at the University of California, Irvine.[1]    Romney was born in Rexburg, Idaho in August 1925. He received his B.A. from Brigham Young University (1947) in sociology, his M.A. from Brigham Young University (1948) also in sociology, his Ph.D. from Harvard University (1956) in Social Anthropology, Social Relations Department. 1955‑56 Assistant Professor, at the University of Chicago. 1957‑60 Assistant Professor, Stanford University. 1960‑66 Associate Professor, Stanford University. 1960‑65 Director, Anthropological Research, Stanford University. 1966‑68 Professor, Harvard University. 1969‑71 Dean, School of Social Sciences, University of California, Irvine. 1969-1995 Professor, University of California, Irvine. 1995- Research Professor, University of California, Irvine. 1956‑57 Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford. 1994 - Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 1995- Member, National Academy of Sciences.[2]    Kimball Romney was a son of Antone Kimball Romney (1902–1982) and a member of the Pratt-Romney family.

Research Interests

An important aspect of culture, the core concept of anthropology, consists of shared cognitive representations of semantic structures that reside as localized functional units in the minds of individuals. The structure of semantic domains, such as the names of colors, animals, or kinship terms, is defined as the arrangement of the terms relative to each other in a spatial model. In this space, items that are judged as more similar are placed closer to each other than items that are judged as less similar. In collaboration with colleagues we have developed techniques to measure (using multidimensional scaling and cultural consensus analysis), with known accuracy, the extent to which "pictures" or cognitive representations in the mind of one person correspond to those in the mind of another person. Our research on various semantic domains has demonstrated that typical members of a culture have virtually identical "pictures" in their minds.

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