Main Menu Summer 2013

Kiel Christianson

Kiel Christianson's research focuses on language comprehension and production. Specifically, he's interested in how people arrive at interpretations of language input, especially when those interpretations are not consistent with the input (i.e., misinterpretations) but still might be "good enough" for normal communication. This research is being extended to non-native speakers, aphasic speakers, and specialized content areas, such as math/physics word problems (STEM). He is also conducting research in bilingual sentence processing and production, visual word recognition and reading, and psycholinguistics in several other languages.

Educational Background

  • Ph.D., Linguistics, Michigan State University, 2002
  • M.A., Applied Linguistics/TEFL, Ball State University, 1992
  • B.S., East Asian Studies, Augsburg College, 1988

Key Professional Appointments

  • Associate Professor, Educational Psychology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2010-present
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2004-2010
  • NIH Postdoctoral Trainee, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Amhurst, 2002-2004
  • Assistant Professor, University of Aizu, Japan, 1993-1996

Activities & Honors

  • 2012 COE Graduate Teaching Award, College of Education, 2012
  • Arnold O. Beckman Award, Awarded to projects of special distinction or unusual promise for designation as Arnold O. Beckman Awards., Campus Research Board, 2009
  • CUNY 2009 Proposal Reviewer, CUNY 2009, CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing, 2008-
  • Review panel member,, Interagency Language Roundtable, 2008-
  • Was member of Faculty Adviroy Committee for SLRF, Second Language Research Forum, Second Language Research forum, 2007-
  • Became a member of APS, APS, Association for Psychological Science, 2007-
  • Guest commentary, The News Gazette, 2005-

Research Statement

My research is heavily influenced and informed by linguistic theory. At the same time, my goal is to make deeper, broader connections between linguistics and various sub-fields of cognitive psychology. Overarching themes in my present work are (mis)interpretation in sentence processing, morphological processing during reading, and cross-linguistic research. In particular, at present I am conducting experiments in sentence comprehension and production, visual word recognition, reading, and second language acquisition and bilingualism.


  • Principal Investigator, Exploring Auditory Perceptual Simulation to Improve Reading Comprehension in STEM, Campus Research Board, 2014-2016
  • Co-Principal Investigator, Experimental and Empirical Approaches to Politeness and Impoliteness, National Science Foundation, 2012-2014
  • Principal Investigator, Biometric measures of confusion and comprehension, Proctor and Gamble, 2010-2012
  • Principal Investigator, CAREER: The Role of Good-Enough Processing in Language, National Science Foundation, 2009-2014
  • Principal Investigator, The Interaction of Two Languages in the Minds of Korean-English Bilinguals, Campus Research Board, 2006-2006

Select Publications

  • Payne, B., Grison, S., Gao, X., Christianson, K., Morrow, D., Stine-Morrow, E. (2014). Aging and Individual Differences in Binding During Sentence Understanding: Evidence from Temporary and Global Syntactic Attachment Ambiguities. Cognition, 130, 157-173.
  • Stoops, A., Luke, S., Christianson, K. (2014). Animacy information outweighs morphological cues in Russia. Language, Cognition, & Neuroscience, 29, 584-604.
  • , M., Luke, S., Christianson, K. (2013). The Psychologist Said Quickly, “Dialogue Descriptions Modulate Reading Speed!” Memory & Cognition, 41, 137-151.
  • Luke, S., Christianson, K. (2013). The influence of frequency across the time course of morphological processing. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 25, 781-799.
  • Lim, J., Christianson, K. (2013). Integrating meaning and structure in L1-L2 and L2-L1 translations. Second Language Research, 29, 233-256.
  • Lim, J., Christianson, K. (2013). Second language sentence processing in reading for comprehension and translation. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 16, 518-537.
  • Luke, S., Christianson, K. (2013). SPaM: A combined self-paced reading and masked-priming paradigm. Behavior Research Methods, 45, 143-150.
  • Kim, J., Christianson, K. (2013). Sentence complexity and working memory effects in ambiguity resolution. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 42, 393-411.
  • Slattery, T., Sturt, P., Christianson, K., Yoshida, M., Ferreira, F. (2013). Lingering misinterpretations of garden path sentences arise from flawed semantic processing. Journal of Memory and Language, 69, 104-120.
  • Christianson, K., Mestre, J., Luke, S. (2012). Practice makes (nearly) perfect: Solving "students & professors"-type algebra word problems. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 26, 810-822.
  • Luke, S., Christianson, K. (2012). Semantic predictability eliminates the transposed-letter effect: Insights from a combined self-paced reading and masked-priming paradigm. Memory & Cognition, 40, 628-641.
  • Shin, J., Christianson, K. (2012). Structural priming and second language learning. Language Learning, 62, 931-964.
  • Lin, T., Anderson, R., Ku, Y., Christianson, K., Packard, J. (2011). Chinese children's concept of word. Writing Systems Research, 3, 41-57.
  • Shin, J., Christianson, K. (2011). The status of dative constructions in Korean, English, and in the minds of Korean-English bilinguals. Processing and Producing Head-final Structures. Springer: New York.
  • Luke, S., Christianson, K. (2011). Stem and whole-word frequency effects in the processing of inflected verbs in and out of a sentence context. Language and Cognitive Processes, 26, 1173-1192.
  • Christianson, K., Luke, S. (2011). Context strengthens initial misinterpretations of text. Scientific Studies of Reading, 15, 136-166.
  • Christianson, K., Luke, S., Ferreira, F. (2010). Effects of plausibility on structural priming. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning. & Cognition, 36, 538-544.
  • Shin, J., Christianson, K. (2009). Syntactic processing in Korean-English bilinguals: Evidence from cross-linguistic structural priming. Cognition, 112, 175-180.
  • Christianson, K., Cho, H. (2009). Interpreting null pronouns (pro) in isolated sentences. Lingua, 119(7), 989-1008.
  • Christianson, K. (2008). Sensitivity to changes in garden path sentences. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 37, 391-403.
  • Schmitt, L., Christianson, K., Gupta, R. (2006). Linguistic computing with UNIX tools. Text mining and natural language processing. Springer: New York.
  • Christianson, K., Williams, C., Zacks, R., Ferreira, F. (2006). Misinterpretations of garden-path sentences by older and younger adults. Discourse Processes, 42, 205-238.
  • Christianson, K., Johnson, R., Rayner, K. (2005). Letter transpositions within and across morphemes. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 31, 1327-1339.
  • Beretta, A., Campbell, C., Carr, T., Huang, J., Schmitt, L., Christianson, K., al, e. (2003). An ER-fMRI investigation of regular and irregular inflection in German. Brain and Language, 85(1), 67-92.
  • Christianson, K. (2001). Optimality theory in language production:The choice between direct and inverse in Odawa. Linguistica Atlantica, 23, 93-126.
  • Christianson, K., Hollingworth, A., Halliwell, J., Ferreira, F. (2001). Thematic-roles assigned along the garden path linger. Cognitive Psychology, 42, 368-407.
  • Ferreira, F., Christianson, K., Hollingworth, A. (2001). Misinterpretations of garden-path sentences: Implications for models of sentence processing and reanalysis. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 30(1), 3-20.
  • Christianson, K. (2001). An OT approach to variation in Odawa production data. University of British Columbia Working Papers in Linguistics: Proceedings of WSCLA 6.

In The News

Bureau of Educational Research holds seminar: 'Long but Fulfilling Journey to Distinguished Teaching and Advising'

Dec. 19, 2012

Students, faculty, and staff joined together to hear advice and reflections of College of Education teaching award recipients at the Bureau of Educational Research's fall seminar, held on December 6. After sharing a meal, attendees enjoyed hearing down-to-earth and practical teaching and advising insight from three panel members, all of whom won a 2011-12 outstanding graduate teaching award. Read more...