Psychology Department

Kevin J. Holmes

Associate Professor of Psychology

Email | 503-517-7402

Cognitive science, language and thought, categorization, abstract concepts

Curriculum Vitae
Google Scholar Profile
Thought Lab Website

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 labs in cognition and language, and our required course in statistical analysis. By using empirical findings to evaluate contrasting theories of how the mind works, students learn how to think about thinking and how to speak and write the language of cognitive 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 208 Methods in Cognitive Psychology
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 and content of human knowledge. Several broad, interrelated questions guide my work: How does language reflect and shape the way we think? What is the nature of abstract concepts? How do people 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. Several current projects in my lab, the Thought Lab, are examining the role of pragmatic inference in linguistic framing. I was recently awarded a James McKeen Cattell Sabbatical Fellowship.

Recent Publications

See lab website for complete publications list

Rook, E. D., & Holmes, K. J. (2023). How language shapes anti-fat bias: Comparing the effects of disease and fat-rights framing. Frontiers in Communication, 8, 1284074. [doi] [pdf] [osf]

Wilson-Mendenhall, C. D., & Holmes, K. J. (2023). Lab meets world: The case for use-inspired basic research in affective science. Affective Science, 4, 591-599. [doi] [pdf]

Elpers, N., Jensen, G., & Holmes, K. J. (2022). Does grammatical gender affect object concepts? Registered replication of Phillips and Boroditsky (2003). Journal of Memory and Language127, 104357. [doi] [pdf] [osf]

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 Science33(4), 524-537. [doi] [pdf] [osf]

Holmes, K. J., Doherty, E. M., & Flusberg, S. J. (2022). How and when does syntax perpetuate stereotypes? Probing the framing effects of subject-complement statements of equality. Thinking & Reasoning28(2), 226-260. [doi] [pdf] [osf]

Flusberg, S. J., Thibodeau, P. H., & Holmes, K. J. (2022). Even simple framing effects are rational: Commentary on Bermúdez. Behavioral and Brain Sciences45, e228. [doi] [pdf]