Kevin J. Holmes

Associate Professor of Psychology

Email | 503-517-7402 | Psy128

Cognitive science, language and thought, categorization, abstract concepts

Curriculum Vitae
Google Scholar Profile

Education and Professional Positions

2005, B.A., Human Biology, with Honors and Distinction, Stanford University
2005, M.A., Psychology, Stanford University
2012, Ph.D., Psychology, Cognition & Development Program, Emory University
2013-14, Postdoctoral Fellow, Cognitive Science, University of California, Berkeley
2014-20, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Colorado College
2020-present, Associate Professor of Psychology, Reed College


I teach a core course in cognitive psychology, seminars and lab courses in language and cognition, and the department's required statistics course. My courses explore the structure and content of human knowledge and its relation to human languages. By using empirical findings to evaluate contrasting theories of how the mind works, students learn how to think about thinking and how to speak the language of science. My goal is to prepare students for lives of thoughtful, evidence-based inquiry by honing their ability to communicate about complex ideas with clarity and precision.

PSY 342 Language and Thought
PSY 348 Statistical Analysis for Psychology
PSY 366 Cognitive Processes
PSY 412 Cognitive Science Research: Thinking in Practice


My research explores the structure of human knowledge. Several broad, interrelated questions guide my work: How does language reflect and shape the way we think? How do people mentally represent abstract concepts? How do we reason about complex, real-world issues? To address these questions, my students and I use carefully designed experiments to make theory-driven inferences about mind and language. Current projects in my lab examine the relationship between linguistic and nonlinguistic categories, the influence of labels and syntactic structure on social attitudes and beliefs, and the role of pragmatic reasoning in linguistic framing effects. 

Selected Recent Publications

See CV for complete publications list [PDF]

Flusberg, S. J., Thibodeau, P. H., & Holmes, K. J. (in press). Even simple framing effects are rational: Commentary on Bermúdez. Behavioral and Brain Sciences.

Flusberg, S. J., van der Vord, J., Husney, S. Q., & Holmes, K. J. (2022). Who’s the “real” victim? How victim framing shapes attitudes toward sexual assault. Psychological Science, 33(4), 524-537.

Holmes, K. J., Doherty, E. M., & Flusberg, S. J. (2021). How and when does syntax perpetuate stereotypes? Probing the framing effects of subject-complement statements of equality. Thinking & Reasoning.

Holmes, K. J. (2020). Addressing twenty-first-century problems by engaging undergraduates in use-inspired basic research. Scholarship and Practice of Undergraduate Research, 3(3), 46.

Colling, L. J., Szűcs, D., . . . Holmes, K. J., et al. (2020). Registered replication report on Fischer, Castel, Dodd, and Pratt (2003). Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science, 3(2), 143-162.

Holmes, K. J., Alcat, C., & Lourenco, S. F. (2019). Is emotional magnitude spatialized? A further investigation. Cognitive Science, 43, e12727.

Holmes, K. J., & Roberts, T.-A. (2019). Mentor as sculptor, makeover artist, coach, or CEO: Evaluating contrasting models for mentoring undergraduates’ mesearch toward publishable research. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 231.

Holmes, K. J., Flusberg, S. J., & Thibodeau, P. H. (2018). Compound words reflect cross-culturally shared bodily metaphors. Cognitive Science, 42(8), 3071-3082.

Holmes, K. J., Moty, K., & Regier, T. (2017). Revisiting the role of language in spatial cognition: Categorical perception of spatial relations in English and Korean speakers. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 24(6), 2031-2036.

Holmes, K. J., & Regier, T. (2017). Categorical perception beyond the basic level: The case of warm and cool colors. Cognitive Science, 41(4), 1135-1147.

Holmes, K. J., Ayzenberg, V., & Lourenco, S. F. (2016). Gamble on gaze: Eye movements reflect the numerical value of blackjack hands. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 23(6), 1974-1981.