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Kiel Christianson

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Professor and Department Chair, Cognitive Science of Teaching and Learning

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210B Education Building
1310 S. Sixth St.
Champaign, IL 61820

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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.

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

Campus Award for Excellence in Guiding Undergraduate Research, University of Illinois, 2019 - 2019

College of Education Senior Distinguished Scholar, College of Education, 2019 - 2019

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


Kiel Christianson at the Beckman Institute

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.


Kang, H., Kim, N., & Christianson, K. (2019). Grammatical aspect and world knowledge in second language reading. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching.  link >

Zhou, P., Garnsey, S., & Christianson, K. (2019). Is imagining a voice like listening to it? Evidence from ERPs. Cognition, 182 227-241.  link >

Luke, S., & Christianson, K. (2018). The Provo Corpus: A Large Eye-Tracking Corpus with Predictability Norms. Behavior Research Methods, 50 826-833.  link >

Zhou, P., Yao, Y., & Christianson, K. (2018). When Structure Competes with Semantics: Reading Chinese Relative Clauses. Collabra: Psychology, 4 22.  link >

Huang, X., Kim, N., & Christianson, K. (2019). Gesture and vocabulary learning in a foreign language. Language Learning, 69 177-197.  link >

Stoops, A., & Christianson, K. (2019). Syntactic predictability modulates parafoveal processing of inflectional morphology in Russian: A within-word boundary-change paradigm. Vision Research, 158 1-10.  link >

Qian, Z., Garnsey, S., & Christianson, K. (2018). A comparison of online and offline measures of good-enough processing in garden-path sentence. Language, Cognition, & Neuroscience, 33 227-254.  link >

Christianson, K., Luke, S., Hussey, E., & Wochna, K. (2017). Why reread? Evidence from garden-path and local coherence structure. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.

Christianson, K., Zhou, P., Palmer, C., & Raizen, A. (2017). Effects of Context and Individual Differences on the Processing of Taboo Word. Acta Psychologica, 178 73-86.

Kim, J., & Christianson, K. (2017). Working memory effects on the L1 and L2 processing of ambiguous relative clauses by Korean L2 learners of English. Second Language Research.

Qian, L., Zhuowei, H., & Christianson, K. (2017). Ambiguity tolerance and advertising effectiveness. Annals of Tourism Research.

Stoops, A., & Christianson, K. (2017). Parafoveal processing of inflectional morphology on Russian nouns. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 29 653-669.

Zhou, P., & Christianson, K. (2016). I "hear" what you're "saying": Auditory perceptual simulation during silent readin. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 69 972-995.

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 ( pp. 153-169). New York: Springer.

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 ( pp. 221-258). New York: Springer.

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.

Christianson, K., & Deshaies, S. (2019). Learning languages in informal environments: Some cognitive consideration. The handbook of informal language learning ( pp. 27-37). Boston, MA, USA: Wiley Blackwell.


Prediction in language comprehension is ________ (2019). Seoul National University: Seoul, S. Korea.

Grammatical aspect and world knowledge in second language reading (2018). AAAL: Chicago, IL.

Effects of Typography and Image Informativeness on Memory for New Words (2012).: Minneapolis, MN.

Parafoveal processing of Russian morphology during silent reading: Evidence from eye movements (2012).: Minneapolis, MN.

"Morphological processing in reading Russian: Evidence from eye movements." (2012).: Montreal, Canada.

Morphological processing in reading Russian: Evidence from eye movements (2012).: Riva de Garda, Italy.

The effects of typography and image informativeness on memory for new words (2012).: Riva de Garda, Italy.

Walking the Walk and Talking the Talk, and Perceptually Simulating Both While Reading (2012).: Riva de Garda, Italy.

Effects of speaker and situational appropriateness on the processing of taboo words (2012).: Urbana, IL.

Morphological processing in reading Russian: Evidence from eye movements (2012).: Kaliningrad, Russia.

Working memory and learning to read Chinese as a second language (2012). Hong King University of Science and Technology: Hong Kong.

Aging and Text Integration Across Sentence Boundaries: An Eye-Movement Study (2012).: Atlanta, GA.

Underspecification in Language Understanding Increases With Age: Evidence from Reading Global Syntactic Ambiguities (2012).: Atlanta, GA.

Neural correlates of prosody and plausibility in garden-path processing (2011).: Annapolis, MD.

Features of text and imagery that facilitate processing of novel concepts (2011).: Seattle, WA.

SPaM: A combined Self-Paced reading and Masked-priming paradigm (2011).: Seattle, WA.

L2 Learners are Sensitive to Morphological Structure (2011).: Iowa City, IA.

Morphological sensitivity in second languageprocessing: evidence from eye-movements (2011).: Iowa City, IA.

Garden path vs. Local coherence: Online processing and offline comprehension (2011).: Paris, France.

The Psychologist Said Quickly, “Dialogue Descriptions Modulate Reading Speed!” (2011).: Paris, France.

Gender and affective responses (2011). Procter & Gamble,

Affective responses to multimedia display advertisements (2011). Procter & Gamble,

Brand-keyword association as mediated b typography in a multimodal display (2011). Procter & Gamble,

Image attributes of clutter for connecting text and imagery (Images and Text experiment) (2011). Procter & Gamble,

Reading and Remembering: Experimental Overview (2011). Procter & Gamble,

Logit mixed effects analysis of memory for images and novel concepts: Preliminary Results (2011). Procter & Gamble,

Increasing engagement in text by using concrete words (2011). Procter & Gamble,

Images and novel concepts: Initial results (2011). Procter & Gamble,

Complementary dwell times on text and images (2011). Procter & Gamble,

Morphological sensitivity in second language processing: Evidence from eye movements (2011).: Seoul, Korea.

Semantic Predictability Eliminates the Transposed-Letter Effect (2010).: Washington, D.C.

Processing English left-dislocations and topicalizations (2004).: Minneapolis, MN.

Expect the unexpected: Syntactic adaptation and the rise of infrequency (2019). Psychonomic Society: Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Predictive inference in reading comprehension (2019). Psychonomic Society: Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Saliency and frequency in the L1 acquisition of Russian nominal morphology: 30-59 months old children (2019). AMLaP: Moscow, Russia.

Probabilistic cues do not rapidly facilitate prediction of relative clause garden-path constructions (2019). University of Iceland: Reykjavik, Iceland.

Listening to the voices in your head: Auditory perceptual simulation during silent reading (2019). Dongguk University: Seoul, S. Korea.

Convergent probabilistic cues do not trigger syntactic adaptation (2019). CUNY: Boulder, CO.

The role of memory processes and quality of lexical representations in L1 and L2 reading comprehension (2019).: Valletta, Malta.


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

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

Was member of Faculty Adviroy Committee for SLRF, Second Language Research Forum, Second Language Research forum, 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 (EPSY 401) 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.

Child Language and Education (EPSY 401) 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. Synchronous attendance required. Course materials on Box.

Psychology of Reading (EPSY 590) Seminar in educational psychology; topics relate to the areas of specialization represented by the various divisions within the department. This course will survey primary literature dealing with the psychological underpinnings of reading. Some topics to be included are the eye movements during reading, visual word recognition, syntactic parsing, syntactic and lexical ambiguity resolution, discourse processing, reading instruction, and reading in non-alphabetic orthographies. NOTE: Instructor will arrange meeting times with enrolled students.