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.

Key Professional Appointments

Professor Educational Psychology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2016 - present

Associate Chair, Department of Educational Psychology Educational Psychology, University of Illinois, 2011 - present

Associate Professor Educational Psychology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2010 - 2016

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


Ph.D., Linguistics, Michigan State University, 2002

M.A., Applied Linguistics/TEFL, Ball State University, 1992

B.S., East Asian Studies, Augsburg College, 1988

Awards, Honors, Associations

2012 COE Graduate Teaching Award College of Education, 2012 - 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 - 2009

Research & Service

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.


Hussey, E., Ward, N., Christianson, K., & Kramer, A. (2015) Language and memory improvements following tDCS of executive-control brain region PLoS One  link >

Lim, J., & Christianson, K. (2015) L2 Sensitivity to Agreement Errors: Evidence from Eye Movements during Comprehension and Translatio Applied Psycholinguistics 36, 1283-1315  link >

Luke, S., & Christianson, K. (2015) Predicting inflectional morphology from context Language, Cognition, & Neuroscience 36, 735-748

Stoops, A., Luke, S., & Christianson, K. (2014) Animacy information outweighs morphological cues in Russia Language, Cognition, & Neuroscience 29, 584-604

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

, M., Luke, S., & Christianson, K. (2013) The Psychologist Said Quickly, “Dialogue Descriptions Modulate Reading Speed!” Memory & Cognition 41, 137-151

Kim, J., & Christianson, K. (2013) Sentence complexity and working memory effects in ambiguity resolution Journal of Psycholinguistic Research 42, 393-411  link >

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  link >

Luke, S., & Christianson, K. (2013) SPaM: A combined self-paced reading and masked-priming paradigm Behavior Research Methods 45, 143-150  link >

Luke, S., & Christianson, K. (2013) The influence of frequency across the time course of morphological processing Journal of Cognitive Psychology 25, 781-799

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  link >

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

Christianson, K., & Luke, S. (2011) Context strengthens initial misinterpretations of text Scientific Studies of Reading 15, 136-166

Lin, T., Anderson, R., Ku, Y., Christianson, K., & Packard, J. (2011) Chinese children's concept of word Writing Systems Research 3, 41-57

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

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

Christianson, K., Luke, S., & Ferreira, F. (2010) Effects of plausibility on structural priming. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning & Cognition 36, 538-544

Christianson, K., & Cho, H. (2009) Interpreting null pronouns (pro) in isolated sentences Lingua 119 (7), 989-1008

Shin, J., & Christianson, K. (2009) Syntactic processing in Korean-English bilinguals: Evidence from cross-linguistic structural priming Cognition 112, 175-180

Christianson, K. (2008) Sensitivity to changes in garden path sentences Journal of Psycholinguistic Research 37, 391-403

Christianson, K., Williams, C., Zacks, R., & Ferreira, F. (2006) Misinterpretations of garden-path sentences by older and younger adults Discourse Processes 42, 205-238

Schmitt, L., Christianson, K., & Gupta, R. (2006) Linguistic computing with UNIX tools. Text mining and natural language processing Springer: New York

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) An OT approach to variation in Odawa production data. University of British Columbia Working Papers in Linguistics: Proceedings of WSCLA 6...

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


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 CAREER: The Role of Good-Enough Processing in Language, National Science Foundation, 2009 - 2014

Principal Investigator Biometric measures of confusion and comprehension, Proctor and Gamble, 2010 - 2012

Principal Investigator The Interaction of Two Languages in the Minds of Korean-English Bilinguals, Campus Research Board, 2006 - 2006


CUNY 2009 Proposal Reviewer CUNY 2009, CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing, 2008 - 2008

Review panel member, Interagency Language Roundtable, 2008 - 2008

Was member of Faculty Adviroy Committee for SLRF Second Language Research Forum, Second Language Research forum, 2007 - 2007

Became a member of APS APS, Association for Psychological Science, 2007 - 2007

Guest commentary The News Gazette, 2005 - 2005


My teaching focuses on how language develops in the human mind, how education interacts with natural development, prescriptive vs. descriptive approaches to language-related topics in education, how we derive meaning and knowledge from text, and experimental methods.


Child Language and Education Provides an overview of current knowledge about children's acquisition of linguistic and communicative competence together with a consideration of the educational import of this developmental process. Course Information: 3 undergraduate hours. 2 or 4 graduate hours. Taking 4 hours of credit requires consent of the instructor and completion of a substantive scholarly project. Undergraduate and graduate work load will be commensurate with the requirements. 3 hours of ECE Undergraduate certification and 2 hours for ECE graduate certification, Elementary Ed, Music certification and GSLIS. Prerequisite: EPSY 201 or EPSY 236; or equivalent. Class Schedule Information: Note: Fulfills educational psychology foundation requirement in learning.

Learning from Text This course will survey the range of topics related to how we learn from text, i.e., from reading. The course will focus on reading in education settings and approaches to improving reading comprehension. Students will read secondary and primary literature and have opportunities to critique, discuss, and present the findings of this research. Topics discussed will include: eye movements during reading, grammatical structures and discourse conventions of texts that support comprehension, and how comprehension and memory for text can be measured. Assignments will include written reviews of texts and topics. Students taking the course for 4 graduate hours will also plan and present a proposed empirical study related to some topic within the course. 3 undergraduate hours. 2 or 4 graduate hours. Credit is not given for EPSY 427 if credit has been received for either PSYC 425 or LING 425.

Psychology of Reading Seminar in educational psychology; topics relate to the areas of specialization represented by the various divisions within the department. Course Information: Approved for both letter and S/U grading. May be repeated. Prerequisite: Consent of instructor required.

Kiel Christianson

Professor, Educational Psychology



240 Education Building
1310 S. Sixth St.
Champaign, IL 61820

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