Boaz Keysar


Boaz Keysar is the William Benton Professor in Psychology at the University of Chicago. He received his B.A. from the Hebrew University in 1984 and his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1989 under the mentorship of Sam Glucksberg. After serving as a visiting scholar at Stanford University, Keysar joined the faculty of the University of Chicago in 1991. Together with his students and collaborators, Keysar studies the relationship between decision-making and language use. He has contributed to the study of figurative language and to the understanding of perspective taking. Professor Keysar has made discoveries about the impact of using a foreign language on choice, the way that language modality affects reasoning, how language affects health decisions and negotiations, and more. His research has received substantial interest in media outlets such as Scientific American, NY Times, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, SF Chronicle, The Economist, Der Spiegel, China Daily, MSNBC, NPR, and Freakonomics.

Keysar’s honors include a Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, Guggenheim Fellowship and a Fulbright Scholarship. He received major grants from NIH and NSF. He was awarded the President’s Service award by President Clinton for his non-profit work.


Leigh H. Grant
PhD Student 

Leigh received her BA in Psychology and Philosophy from Boston University and her MSc in Research Methods in Psychology from University College London. Prior to joining the Multilingualism and Decision-Making Lab, Leigh worked as a research assistant for the Polysyllabic Word Reading Project, which examined reading disability and how late elementary school students read polysyllabic words. Later on, Leigh completed her master’s thesis with the Language and Cognition Lab under Gabriella Vigliocco, focusing on how emotionally valenced words are preconsciously processed. Leigh joined the Multilingualism and Decision Making Lab in 2015 as a Research Coordinator and began her doctoral studies at the University of Chicago in 2017.

Currently, Leigh is broadly interested in examining the impact of language on interpersonal communication and decision making, with a focus on communicating through one’s native or nonnative language as well as communicating through a shared, non-native language or translation.

Veronica Vazquez Olivieri
PhD Student 

Veronica is a doctoral student in the Cognition program working with Dr. Boaz Keysar. She received her BA in Psychology with a minor in Sociology from Emory University in 2019. While at Emory, Veronica worked as a research assistant in the Memory Development Lab of Dr. Patricia Bauer and in the Speech and Language Perception Lab of Dr. Lynne Nygaard.

Veronica’s research interests lie at the intersection of higher-level social cognition and decision making and how this affects the way we perceive the world, evaluate events, decide what actions to take, and how we interact with others.



Zeynep Aslan
PhD Student 

Zeynep is a doctoral student in the Cognition program working with Boaz Keysar. She received both her BA and MA in Psychology from Koç University. During her graduate studies, she worked in the Language and Cognition Lab under the guidance of Dr. Tilbe Göksun and studied the bi-directional interaction between language and emotion processing.

Broadly, Zeynep is interested in understanding whether and how the language we speak affects our everyday decisions, interactions and experiences.


Kris Peng

Lab Assistant

Kris is a third-year undergraduate at the University of Chicago majoring in Psychology and minoring in Data Science. She is primarily interested in decision-making and its relationship with language, past experience, and emotion. She is also interested in exploring how data science can serve as a tool in psychology research, ranging from data mining, machine learning, to big data.