Celeste Kidd's Research in Scientific American

26 May, 2023

Celeste Kidd's Research in Scientific American

Our concepts are crucial to exactly what we mean when we use language, and new research has found that the concepts people hold, even for a word like a penguin, vary from person to person on a shockingly frequent basis

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, found that even the plainest of nouns can invoke dozens of distinct concepts in individuals’ minds. BCNM professor of psychology Celeste Kidd was recently featured in the Scientific American article for being the senior author of the study.

From the article:

“People have wondered for a long time how to put a number on how much overlap there is, and it’s really low. It blows my mind,” says psychologist Celeste Kidd of the U.C. Berkeley, who was senior author of the study.

To make matters worse, the researchers found that people are usually oblivious to these differences and believe that most other people think like they do even when almost nobody does. This may be one reason people so often are at loggerheads. “We think it can explain a lot of disagreements people have,” Kidd says. “It’s an approach to understanding why people talk past each other.” Being more aware of how often we might not be comprehending one another may help us “get on the same page when it matters,” she adds.

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