Douglas Medin Professor

Program Area(s):



Culture and cognition; decision making

Research Interests

Categorization and Reasoning: We are currently developing and testing theories that we hope will extend beyond the typical undergraduate subject pool to other populations. Our work shows patterns that systematically diverge from data collected from undergraduates, suggesting that theory and data based on undergraduates may not generalize to the world at large.

Decision Making: Like many other researchers we are trying to understand the role of protected or moral values and decision making as well as the role of emotions in decision making. As always, the role of culture in cognition remains an important theme.

Culture and STEM: Postdoc Ananda Marin and I are working with the American Indian Science and Engineering Society and the University of New Mexico (Janet Page-Reeves) on a study that will promote broadening Native American participation in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Our research investigates how some American Indians and Alaska Natives use personal and cultural assets to support the relation between Indigenous culture (Native science) and Western science as they achieve success in STEM. In particular we are exploring how the notion of “gifts” and “pathways” reflect cultural values and orientations towards capabilities.

Culture and Nature: This research is a collaboration between the University of Washington and the American Indian Center of Chicago (Megan Bang), and Northwestern University.  We are studying the role of culture as it relates to knowledge and reasoning about the natural world in children and adults.  Our recent focus has been on ecological cognition and complex systems thinking and it includes working with Sonya Sachdeva from US forestry on perceptions of ecosystems, especially urban ecosystems.

Selected Publications

Book Cover:

ojalehto, b. l., Medin, D. (2015). Perspectives on culture and concepts. Annual Review of Psychology. 66, 249-275.

Medin, D.L. & Bang, M. (2014). Who’s asking? Native Science, Western Science and Science Education. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Medin, D.L, & Bang, M. (2014). The cultural side of science communication. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, online

Taverna, A. S.; Waxman, S. R.; Medin, D. L., Moscoloni, N. & Peralta, O. A. (2014). Naming the living things: Linguistic, experiential and cultural factors in Wichí and Spanish speaking children. Journal of Culture and Cognition, 14, 213-233.

Waxman, S., Herrmann, P., Woodring, J., Medin, D. (2014). Humans (really) are animals: Picture-book reading influences five-year-old urban children’s construal of the relation between humans and non-human animals. Frontiers in Developmental Psychology. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00172

Le Guen, O., Iliev, R., Lois, X., Atran, S., Medin. D. (2013). A garden experiment revisited: Inter-generational change in environmental perception and management of the Maya Lowlands, Guatemala, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. 19(4), 771-794.

ojalehto, b., Waxman, S.R. & Medin, D.L. (2013). Teleological reasoning about nature: Intentional design or relational perspectives? Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 17(4), 166-171.

Medin, D., & Bang, M. (2013). Culture in the Classroom. Phi Delta Kappan, 95(4): 64-67.

More Publications