Justine T. Kao

Cognitive Psychology

Stanford University

Email: justinek at stanford dot edu

Office: 420-316 (Jordan Hall)

I'm a Ph.D. candidate in the Psychology Department at Stanford working with Noah Goodman and the Computation and Cognition Lab. Before that, I studied Symbolic Systems and Creative Writing at Stanford and completed my honors thesis with Dan Jurafsky.

My research interests are in language understanding, in particular the inferences that people make in order to interpret and appreciate creative uses of language. For example, how do people use prior knowledge and context to decipher the meaning of a novel metaphor? How do speakers and listeners utilize common ground to produce and understand verbal irony? Why are puns funny, and what makes poetry poetic?

To answer these questions, I use a mixture of methods, including behavioral experiments, computational modeling, and corpus linguistics. My main research focus at the moment is on the communicative principles that enable people to understand figurative language in context.