Applications open for 2022 entry Apply now

About Professor Steven Pinker

Professor Pinker was born in Canada and took his BA in Psychology at McGill University before moving to the US to study for a PhD in Experimental Psychology at Harvard. He has subsequently taught at MIT, Harvard and Stanford.

In 2004 Professor Pinker was named as one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world, and the following year was listed by the magazines Prospect and Foreign Affairs as one of the top 100 public intellectuals.

Professor Pinker is highly regarded for his theory of language acquisition, his research on syntax, morphology and the meaning of verbs and the mechanism of human cognition, which has won prizes from the Royal Institution of Great Britain, the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Psychological Association. His books (including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate and The Stuff of Thought) combine cognitive science with behavioural genetics and evolutionary psychology. He has won several teaching prizes at MIT and Harvard.

Professor Pinker is the Harvard College Professor and Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. He is a visiting professor at New College of the Humanities.

Professor Steven Pinker's Research

Research Papers

with Lee, J. J.,. ‘Rationales for indirect speech: The theory of the strategic speaker’. Psychological Review, (2010)

‘The cognitive niche: Coevolution of intelligence, sociality, and language’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA, 107, (2010), 8893-899,

‘Representations and decision rules in the theory of self-deception’ (commentary on W. von Hippel & R. Trivers’ “The evolution and psychology of self-deception,” Behavioral and Brain Sciences. (2010)

with Michel, J.-B., Shen, Y. K., Aiden, A. P., Veres, A., Gray, M. K., The_Google_Books_Team, Pickett, J. P., Hoiberg, D., Clancy, D. ,Norvig, P., Orwant, J., Nowak, M., & Lieberman-Aiden, E. ‘Quantitative analysis of culture using millions of digitized books.’ Science, (2011) 331, 176-182.


Language Learnability and Language Development, (Harvard University Press, 1984)

(ed.), Visual Cognition (MIT Press/Bradford Books, 1985)

with J. Mehler (eds.) (1988). Connections and Symbols (MIT Press/Bradford Books 1998)

Learnability and Cognition: The Acquisition of Argument Structure, (MIT Press/Bradford Books 1989)

with Levin, B (eds.) Lexical and Conceptual Semantics (Blackwell, 1992)

The Language Instinct (Penguin 1994)

How the Mind Works. New York (Penguin, 1997)

Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1999)

The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (Penguin. 2002)

(ed.). The Best American Science and Nature Writing (Houghton Mifflin 2004)

Hotheads (excerpt from How the Mind Works), (Penguin Books, 2005)

The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature (Penguin 2007)

The seven words you can’t say on television (excerpt from The Stuff of Thought) (Penguin, 2008)

The Better Angels of our Nature: The Decline of Violence and its Psychological Roots (Penguin, 2011)

The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century (Penguin, 2014)

Professor Steven Pinker's Teaching

Professor Steven Pinker lectures for the Science Literacy Core Module at New College of the Humanities.