I’m an associate professor of Cognitive Science at Case Western Reserve University, where I investigate connections between cognition, language, and narrative, with a special interest in cognitive bias and how people think about other minds. My research looks at how people interpret and construct narratives together, how literature and film capitalize on various aspects of our social cognition, and the intersection of ‘small’ linguistic-pragmatic phenomena with sense making at the level of narrative and interaction.
I work on irony, presupposition, and other kinds of tricky viewpoint phenomena in language. My work is also about what sorts of stories and constructions capture our imaginations and insinuate themselves into what we believe — the sorts of things that are good news for mystery writers but perhaps bad news for society.
My book Elements of Surprise: Our Mental Limits and the Satisfactions of Plot was published by Harvard University Press in the spring of 2018. My current projects include Being Difficult, about the place of uncooperative behavior in various kinds of cooperative activities.