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#463 Overall Influence

Steven Pinker

Psychologist, linguist, author


Why is this person notable and influential?

Cognitive scientist, linguist, and author, Steven Pinker currently holds the title of Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. Previously, Pinker taught at Stanford University at MIT. Pinker earned his bachelor’s in psychology from McGill University in 1976, and his Ph.D. in experimental psychology in 1979 at Harvard.

Pinker is recognized for his interdisciplinary work, combining psychology, cognitive science, and linguistics, and is a vocal proponent of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind. Though he has several decades of research and academic work to his name, Pinker is best recognized as an author of popular science books, in which he expounds on ideas from linguistics and evolutionary psychology in a way accessible to a mainstream audience. In particular, Pinker often builds on the ideas of Noam Chomsky, arguing that language is a unique and innate faculty of the human mind, and that (his own stance) it emerges from evolution and natural selection. Pinker’s views have not been received without controversy.

For his work, Pinker has been recognized as a highly influential voice in psychology, linguistics, and popular science. He has received such awards and honors as being named one of the most influential people in the world by Time magazine, an Early Career Award and a Boyd Candless Award from the American Psychological Association, the Troland Research Award from the National Academy of Sciences, and has twice been a Pulitzer Prize finalist. He is also the first member of the Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists (no, really).

Popular books by Pinker include The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language, How the Mind Works, The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature, and most recently, Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.

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Featured in Top Influential Psychologists Today

From Wikipedia

Steven Arthur Pinker is a Canadian-American cognitive psychologist, linguist, and popular science author. He is an advocate of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind.Pinker is the Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, and his academic specializations are visual cognition and psycholinguistics. His experimental subjects include mental imagery, shape recognition, visual attention, children's language development, regular and irregular phenomena in language, the neural bases of words and grammar, and the psychology of cooperation and communication, including euphemism, innuendo, emotional expression, and common knowledge. He has written two technical books that proposed a general theory of language acquisition and applied it to children's learning of verbs. In particular, his work with Alan Prince published in 1989 critiqued the connectionist model of how children acquire the past tense of English verbs, arguing instead that children use default rules such as adding "-ed" to make regular forms, sometimes in error, but are obliged to learn irregular forms one by one.

Source: Wikipedia

Published Works

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What schools is this person affiliated with?

Harvard University

Private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

Dawson College

College in Montreal, Canada

Stanford University

Private research university located in Stanford, California, United States

McGill University

English-language public research university in Montreal, Quebec

Notable Works

What contributions to academia has this person made?

Influence Rankings by Discipline

How’s this person influential?
#48 World Rank
#125 World Rank
#268 World Rank
#606 World Rank