About the Department Academics People Events Contact Home

Faculty Photo

The University of Chicago
Department of Psychology
5848 South University Avenue
Chicago, IL, 60637

Office Phone: (773) 702-5830
Lab Phone: (773) 702-9081
Office: Beecher Hall, 213
Lab: Beecher Hall, 208
Email me

Boaz Keysar


  • Ph.D., Princeton University, Psychology, 1989
  • M.A., Princeton University, Psychology, 1987
  • B.A., Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Psychology and Philosophy, 1984
Academic Appointments:
  • Chair, Cognition program, 2005-present
  • Professor, The University of Chicago, July 2002 - present
  • Associate Professor, The University of Chicago, July 1995 - June 2002
  • Assistant Professor, The University of Chicago, July 1991 - June 1995
  • Post-doctoral Scholar, Stanford University, September 1989 - June 1991

Research Interests

  • Communication and Language Use
  • Metaphors, Idioms and other Figures of Speech
  • Thinking, Reasoning and Problem Solving
  • Judgment and Decision Making

Selected Publications

Keysar, B., Hayakawa, S., and An, S. G., (2012). The foreign language effect: Thinking in a foreign tongue reduces decision biases. Psychological Science. 23, 661-668.

Lev-Ari, S. and Keysar, B. (2012). Less detailed representation of non-native language: Why non-native speakers' stories seem more vague. Discourse Processes, 49, 523-538.

Savitsky, K., Keysar, B., Epley, N., Carter, T. and Swanson, A. (2011). The closeness-communication bias: Increased egocentrism among friends versus strangers. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47, 269-273.

Lev-Ari, S. & Keysar, B. (2010). Why don’t we believe non-native speakers? The influence of accent on credibility. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46, 1093–1096.

Lin, S., Keysar, B., & Epley, N.  (2010).  Reflexively mindblind:  Using theory of mind to interpret behavior requires effortful attention.  Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46, 551-556.

Chang, V. Y., Arora, V. M., Lev-Ari, S., D'Arcy, M., Keysar, B.  (2010).  Interns Overestimate the Effectiveness of Their Hand-Off Communication. Pediatrics, 125, 491-496.

Begeer, S., Malle, B. F., Nieuwland, M., & Keysar, B. (2010).  Using Theory of MInd to represent and take part in social interactions:  Comparing individuals with high-functioning autism and typically developing control.  European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 7, 104-122.

Senay, I. & Keysar, B. (2009). Keeping track of speaker's perspective: The role of social identity. Discourse Processes, 46, 401-425.

Shintel, H & Keysar, B. (2009). Less is more: A minimalist account of joint action in communication. Topics in Cognitive Science, 1, 260-273.

Converse, A. B, Lin, S., Keysar, B. & Epley, N. (2008). In t he mood to get over yourself: Mood affects Theory-of-Mind use. Emotion. 725-730.

Keysar, B., Converse, B. A., Wang, J. & Epley, N. (2008). Reciprocity is not Give and Take: Asymmetric reciprocity to positive and negative acts. Psychological Science, 19, 1280-1286.

Morewedge, C. K., Gilbert, D. T., Keysar, B., Berkovits, M. J., & Wilson, T. D. (2007). When Does a Slice Become a Crumb? Mispredicting the Hedonic Consequences of Small Gains. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. 136, 700-709.

Also featured in Science (June 15, 2007) in the Editor's Choice section.

Wu, S. & Keysar, B. (2007). Cultural effects on perspective taking. Psychological Science, 18, 600-606.

Shintel, H & Keysar, B. (2007). You Said it Before and You'll Say it Again: Expectations of Consistency in Communication. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory & Cognition, 33, 357-369.

Wu, S., & Keysar, B. (2007). The effect of communication overlap on communication effectiveness. Cognitive Science, 31, 169-181.

Barr, D. J. & Keysar, B. (2007). Perspective taking and the coordination of meaning in language use. In Traxler, M. J. & Gernsbacher, M. A. (Eds.), Handbook of Psycholinguistics, 2nd Edition, pp. 901-938. Academic Press.

Keysar, B. (2007). Communication and miscommunication: The role of egocentric processes. Intercultural Pragmatics, 4, 71-84.

Barr, D. J. & Keysar, B. (2005). Mindreading in an exotic case: The normal adult human. In Malle, B. F., & Hodges, S. D. (Eds.). Other minds: How humans bridge the divide between self and other. New York: Guilford Press. pp. 271-283.

Keysar, B., & Barr, D. J. (2005). Coordination of action and belief in communication. In J. C. Trueswell & M. K. Tanenhaus (Eds.), Approaches to Studying World Situated Language Use: Bridging the Language-as-Product and Language-as-Action. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Barr, D. J. & Keysar, B. (2004). Is language processing different in dialog ue? Behavioral and Brain Sciences. 27, 190-191.Barr, D. J., & Keysar, B. (2004). Making sense of how we make sense: The paradox of egocentrism in language use. In H. L. Colston & A. N. Katz (Eds.), Figurative language comprehension: Social and cultural influences. Mahwaw, N.J.: Erlbaum.

Epley, N., Keysar, B., VanBoven, L., & Gilovich, T. (2004). Perspective Taking as Egocentric Anchoring and Adjustment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87, 327-339.

Epley, N., Morewedge, C. K., & Keysar, B. (2004). Perspective Taking in Children and Adults: Equivalent Egocentrism but Differential Correction. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 40, 760-768.

Keysar, B., Lin, S.& Barr, D. J. (2003). Limits on theory of mind use in adults. Cognition, 89, 25-41.

Keysar, B., & Barr, D. J. (2002). Self anchoring in conversation: Why language users do not do what they "should". (2002). In T. Gilovich, D. W. Griffin, & D. Kahneman (Eds.), Heuristics and biases: The psychology of intuitive judgment. (pp. 150-166). Cambridge University Press.

Keysar, B., & Henly, A. S. (2002). Speakers' overestimation of their effectiveness. Psychological Science, 13, 207-212.

Barr, D. J., & Keysar, B. (2002). Anchoring comprehension in linguistic precedents. Journal of Memory and Language, 46, 391-418.

Gernsbacher, M. A., Keysar, B. & Robertson, R. W. (2001). The role of suppression and enhancement in understanding metaphors. Journal of Memory and Language, 45, 433-450.

Keysar, B., Shen, Y., Glucksberg, S., & Horton, W. S. (2000). Conventional language: How metaphorical is it? Journal of Memory and Language, 43, 576-593.

Keysar, B. (2000). The illusory transparency of intention: Does June understand what Mark means because he means it? Discourse Processes, 29, 161-172.

Keysar, B., Barr, D. J., Balin, J. A., & Brauner, J. S. (2000). Taking perspective in conversation: The role of mutual knowledge in comprehension. Psychological Sciences, 11, 32-38.

Keysar, B., & Bly, B. (1999). Swimming against the current: Do idioms reflect conceptual structure? Journal of Pragmatics, 31, 1559-1578.

Keysar, B., & Horton, S. W. (1998). Speaking with common ground: From principles to processes in pragmatics. A reply to Polichak and Gerrig. Cognition, 66, 191-198.

Keysar, B., Barr, D. J., & Horton, W. S. (1998). The egocentric basis of language use: Insights from a processing approach. Current Directions in Psychological Sciences, 7, 46-50.

Keysar, B., Barr, D. J., Balin, J. A., & Paek, T. S. (1998). Definite reference and mutual knowledge: Process models of common ground in comprehension. Journal of Memory and Language, 39, 1-20.

Keysar, B. (1998). Language users as problem solvers: Just what ambiguity problem do they solve? In S. R. Fussell and R. J. Kreuz (Eds.), Social and Cognitive Psychological Approaches to Interpersonal Communication, 175-200. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Keysar, B. (1997). Unconfounding common ground. Discourse Processes, 24, 253-270.

Horton, W. S., and Keysar, B. (1996). When do speakers take into account common ground? Cognition, 59, 91-117.

Keysar, B., Ginzel, L. E., and Bazerman, M. H. (1995). States of affairs and states of mind: The effect of knowledge about beliefs. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 64, 283-293.

Keysar, B., and Bly, B. (1995). Intuitions of the transparency of idioms: Can one keep a secret by spilling the beans? Journal of Memory and Language, 34, 89-109.

Keysar, B. (1994). Discourse context effects: Metaphorical and literal interpretations. Discourse Processes, 18, 247-269.

Reprinted in:
Bazerman, M. H. (Ed) (2005). Negotiation, Decision Making and Conflict Management. Edward Elgar Pulishing, MA.

Keysar, B. (1994). The illusory transparency of intention: Linguistic perspective taking in text. Cognitive Psychology, 26, 165-208.

Keysar, B. (1993). Common sense and adult theory of communication. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 16, 54.

Keysar, B. and Glucksberg S. (1993). Metaphor and communication. Poetics Today, 13, 633-658.

Glucksberg, S., and Keysar, B. (1993). How metaphors work. In A. Ortony (Ed.), Metaphor and Thought (Second Edition). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Glucksberg, S., Keysar, B. and McGlone, M. S. (1992). Metaphor understanding and accessing conceptual schema: Reply to Gibbs. Psychological Review, 99, 578-581.

Glucksberg, S. and Keysar, B. (1990). Understanding metaphorical comparisons: Beyond similarity. Psychological Review, 97, 3-18.

Prinzmetal, W. and Keysar, B. (1989). Functional theory of illusory conjunctions and neon colors. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 118, 165-190.

Keysar, B. (1989). On the functional equivalence of literal and metaphorical interpretations. Journal of Memory and Language, 28, 375-385.


  • Decison Making and Communication
  • The Psychology of Intuitive Judgment
  • Understanding Other Minds

More Information

Researchers show people overestimate ability to effectively communicate ambiguous information

Back to Top