Virginia Valian

Virginia Valian
City University of New York - Hunter College | Hunter CUNY · Department of Psychology

PhD

About

100
Publications
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4,297
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Additional affiliations
September 1987 - present
CUNY Graduate Center
Position
  • Professor (Full)
September 1987 - present
City University of New York - Hunter College
Position
  • Professor (Full)

Publications

Publications (100)
Article
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Understanding jokes may differ between mono- and bilinguals because of differences in lexical access; fluency and sense of humor may also be relevant. Three experiments examined English-language joke comprehension in monolingual (n = 91) and bilingual (n = 111) undergraduates, Russian–English bilinguals (n = 39), and MTurk monolinguals (n = 77). Pa...
Poster
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he goal of this study was to test the Shared Syntax Account and to shed light on what levels of representations are primed when the L1 and L2 do not share conceptual and syntactic features. Our results show a trend towards the production of English passives after the processing of a venire-passive in the L1, yet no difference is found between the a...
Article
This work separately applies two psychology frameworks—the three dimensions along which people are evaluated (competence, morality, and warmth) and individual sociopolitical attitudes (modern sexism [MS], right‐wing authoritarianism [RWA], and social dominance orientation (SDO)—to explore voter evaluations of Donald Trump and Joseph Biden both prio...
Chapter
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Similarity between data from experiments and data from linguistic intuitions. Some people have better intuitions than others.
Article
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Women in academia receive fewer prestigious awards than their male counterparts. This gender gap may emerge purely from structural factors (e.g., gender differences in time spent in academia, institutional prestige, and academic performance), or from a combination of structural and psychological factors (e.g., gender schemas). To test these competi...
Article
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To combat bad behaviour, researchers must collectively create ways to take responsibility, says Virginia Valian. To combat bad behaviour, researchers must collectively create ways to take responsibility, says Virginia Valian.
Chapter
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Editorial introduction to the papers presented at the workshop "Bilingualism and Executive Function: Interdisciplinary Approach" (May, 2015, CUNY Graduate Center)
Article
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Variability: Definitions of language and language learning - Virginia Valian
Book
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The study of bilingualism has charted a dramatically new, important, and exciting course in the 21st C., benefiting from the integration in cognitive science of theoretical linguistics, psycholinguistics, and cognitive psychology (especially work on the higher-level cognitive processes often called "executive function" or "executive control"). Curr...
Article
In the summer and fall of 2016, we examined how gender norms relate to perceptions of the ideal president as well as favorability toward Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Participants listed living examples of the “ideal” president and rated how typical masculine and feminine traits were of the ideal president (Studies 1a and 1b). Male exemplars an...
Chapter
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Chapter
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The papers in this volume continue the quest to investigate the moderating factors and understand the mechanisms underlying effects (or lack thereof) of bilingualism on cognition in children, adults, and the elderly. They grew out of a 2015 workshop organized by two of us (Irina Sekerina and Virginia Valian) at the Graduate Center of the City Unive...
Article
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The extent of gender bias in academia continues to be an object of inquiry, and recent research has begun to examine the particular gender biases emblematic in letters of recommendations. This current two-part study examines differences in the number of doubt raisers that are written in 624 authentic letters of recommendations for 174 men and women...
Article
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Women in science still don’t get what they deserve, explains Virginia Valian, 20 years on from her landmark book on bias. Women in science still don’t get what they deserve, explains Virginia Valian, 20 years on from her landmark book on bias.
Book
How colleges and universities can live up to their ideals of diversity, and why inclusivity and excellence go hand in hand. Most colleges and universities embrace the ideals of diversity and inclusion, but many fall short, especially in the hiring, retention, and advancement of faculty who would more fully represent our diverse world—in particular...
Article
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Colloquium talks at prestigious universities both create and reflect academic researchers' reputations. Gender disparities in colloquium talks can arise through a variety of mechanisms. The current study examines gender differences in colloquium speakers at 50 prestigious US colleges and universities in 2013-2014. Using archival data, we analyzed 3...
Article
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Three important issues bear on understanding the connection between bilingualism and executive function. The first is the absence of a fine-grained task analysis for executive functions and other cognitive processes. The second is the absence of a theory of the cognitive mechanisms underlying the deployment of two or more languages and thus the abs...
Article
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We compare the predictions of two different accounts of first language acquisition by investigating the relative contributions of abstract syntax and input frequency to the elicited production of main and embedded questions by 36 monolingual English-speaking toddlers aged 3;0 to 5;11. In particular, we investigate whether children’s accuracy rates...
Article
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For the past two weeks, my e-mail in-box has overflowed with messages from women -- and some men -- about the hypotheses recently offered by Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers to explain the dearth of women in the academic sciences. One woman wrote, "It is not surprising that people are angry when they see such full-blown contemptuous arrogance....
Article
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The goal of my keynote article, “Bilingualism and Cognition” (Valian, 2015), was to resolve the inconsistencies in effects of bilingualism on executive functions, whether the individuals were children, young adults, or old people. To summarize (and sharpen) my argument: 1. Especially in children and young adults, benefits of bilingualism for execut...
Article
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The relation between bilingualism and cognition is informative about the connection between language and mind. From the perspective of language, the question is how bilingualism might help or hinder cognition – narrowly interpreted here as executive function. From the perspective of higher cognition, the question is what kinds of experiences improv...
Article
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Article
Virginia Valian ponders a study on biology, evolution and gender differences in humans.
Article
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ABSTRACT This paper lays out the components of a language acquisition model, the interconnections among the components, and the differing stances of nativism and empiricism about syntax. After demonstrating that parsimony cannot decide between the two stances, the paper analyzes nine examples of evidence that have been used to argue for or against...
Article
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In this commentary on Nye, Su, Rounds, and Drasgow (2012) and Schmidt (2011), I address the value of occupational interest inventories for understanding sex differences in occupational choice and the extent to which occupational interests are malleable. In particular, I argue (a) that some subscales in interest inventories are too heterogeneous to...
Article
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With the yearly exodus from labs and lecture theatres imminent, Nature's regular reviewers and editors share some tempting holiday reads.
Article
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Nature 3/2013; 495(7439):35-8: Eight experts give their prescriptions for measures that will help to close the gender gap in nations from China to Sweden.
Article
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Article
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Two books debunk gender differences in the brain, discovers Virginia Valian.
Article
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Our vision: within the next few decades the composition of the faculty of cell biology, and of all biological science departments, will reflect the diverse composition of the graduate students in those departments. We are far from that reality today. Disparities in representation exist for both gender and race. Tyrone Hayes' essay in this volume pr...
Article
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To improve the numbers of women at every level of business and academia, we first need a good analysis of where the relative absence of women is most acute. This paper focuses on the United States, where there has been progress: men and women make roughly equal starting salaries in academia and business. This progress is not complete, however, sinc...
Article
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Six tests of the spontaneous speech of twenty-one English-speaking children (1 ; 10 to 2 ; 8; MLUs 1.53 to 4.38) demonstrate the presence of the syntactic category determiner from the start of combinatorial speech, supporting nativist accounts. Children use multiple determiners before a noun to the same extent as their mothers (1) when only a and t...
Article
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This report raises four issues: (1) why do so few women occupy positions of power and prestige in every field; (2) why might people fail to recognize that there is a gender equity problem; (3) how can gender equity be seen as a benefit to institutions; and (4) what can institutions do to increase gender equity?
Article
Researchers argue that variable use of inflectional morphology demonstrates a lack of underlying syntactic representation in second language learners. Others disagree and argue for a full syntactic representation: stating that variable use of morphology during early the stages of learning is due to the difficulty of mapping an underlying representa...
Article
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We use syntactic priming to test the abstractness of the sentence representations of young 3-year-olds (35–42 months). In describing pictures with inanimate participants, 18 children primed with passives produced more passives (11 with a strict scoring scheme, 16 with lax scoring) than did 18 children primed with actives (2 on either scheme) or 12...
Article
Present your work and learn about others ' work • Increasingly, people learn about current work by attending conferences o Publishing is important but so many papers are published that it is difficult for people to keep up with the literature • By presenting your work, you increase its visibility and accessibility o You want to do your best for you...
Article
High school and college students of French recalled French sentences which varied two types of negation. Half the sentences used affirmative syntax and half negative syntax (ne… pas); half used positive verbs (e.g., manger); and half used negative verbs (e.g., oublier). One to two weeks later students performed the same task with English translatio...
Article
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Three age groups were tested for their understanding of present and past tense in the auxiliaries will and did, copula be, and progressive be. Children saw scenarios or pic-tures and responded to an experimenter's "show-me" requests based on the tense— non-past or past—of the verb in the request. For two groups (sixty-four 2-and sixty-four 3-year-o...
Article
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We hypothesize that the conceptual relation between a verb and its direct object can make a sentence easier ('the cat is eating some food') or harder ('the cat is eating a sock') to parse and understand. If children's limited performance systems contribute to the ungrammatical brevity of their speech, they should perform better on sentences that re...
Chapter
Women are underpaid and underpromoted across the professions generally and in academic science in particular. For relevant references, see the other chapters in this book, (1, 2, 3), the National Science Foundation's (NSF's) periodic reports, and American Association of University Professors' (AAUP's) annual data. Helpful websites include the Gende...
Article
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Why are young children's utterances short? This elicited imitation study used a new task--double imitation--to investigate the factors that contribute to children's failure to lexicalize sentence subjects. Two-year-olds heard a triad of sentences singly and attempted to imitate each; they then again heard the same triad singly and again attempted t...
Article
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NOTE: The dotted arrows show the decrease in percentage of women graduates, assuming 7 years post-BA/BS to earn a Ph.D. Generated using the WebCASPAR (http://caspar.nsf.gov) website of the National Science Foundation.
Article
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Two-year-olds learn language quickly but how they exploit adult input remains obscure. Twenty-nine children aged 2;6 to 3;2, divided into three treatment groups, participated in an intervention experiment consisting of four sessions 1 week apart. Pre- and post-intervention sessions were identical for all children: children heard a wh-question and a...
Article
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Despite growing empirical evidence to the contrary, claims continue to be made that the grammar of people with Williams syndrome (WS) is intact. We show that even in a simple elicited imitation task examining the syntax of relative clauses, older children and adults with WS (n = 14, mean age = 17;0 years) only reach the level of typical five-year-o...
Article
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Sex differences in social behavior are center stage in recent formulations of evolutionary psychology. Evolutionary psychology, with its emphasis on the long-term consequences of early adaptations, offers itself as an alternative meta-theory to mainstream social psychology, which emphasizes the importance of social structures in determining the exi...
Article
In his review of Rethinkinginnateness (Elman, Bates, Johnson, Karmiloff-Smith, Parisi & Plunkett, 1996; henceforth, RI), Rispoli (this volume) comments favourably on the dynamical change models presented in RI's Chapter 4. I think a more critical stance is warranted. In particular, I will argue that dynamical change models cannot in principle make...
Article
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Examines cognitive processes that distort judgments about men and women thus perpetuating discriminatory practices in the professions and in academe. Cites studies of salary, rank, and tenure discrepancies and notes various unarticulated beliefs about gender that present obstacles to women's advancement. Affirmative action and institutional reforms...
Article
The role of prosody in adults’ acquisition of a miniature artificial language was examined in three experiments. In Experiment 1, learners heard and repeated prerecorded sentences of the language, and simultaneously saw corresponding referents, but did not see any printed words. Learners received four study-test trials. Half the learners heard a “s...
Article
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In order to separate competence and performance factors in acquisition of knowledge of syntactic subjects, we audiotaped and analysed the spontaneous speech of 20 Portuguese-speaking two-year-olds in natural conversation with Portuguese-speaking adults. We separated the children into three groups based on Mean Length of Utterance in Words: 1.5-1.99...
Article
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Elicited imitation was used to determine whether young children's inconsistent production of sentence subjects was due to limitations in their knowledge of English or in their ability to access and use that knowledge. Nineteen young children (age range = 1 year 10 months to 2 years 8 months; Mean Length of Utterance [MLU] range = 1.28 to 4.93) repe...
Article
Replies to J. J. Kim's (see record 1993-32879-001) comments on the article by V. Valian (see record 1990-27970-001) concerning the problem of null subjects in children's sentences for parameter-setting models (PSMs) of language acquisition. The author argues against the use of PSMs for language acquisition and the use of parser failure as the mec...
Chapter
The goal of this paper is to explore how aspects of knowledge (competence) and use (performance) may interact both to determine the course of language acquisition and to determine the child's productions at any given point in acquisition. At the onset of language acquisition the child is limited in its competence and in its performance. That is, th...
Article
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Why do young children leave out sentential subjects? Two competence-deficit hypotheses and a performance-limitation account are evaluated in the present set of studies. American children appear to understand that English requires subjects before mean length of utterance (MLU) 2.0. On balance, performance factors account for the data best. Natural c...
Article
The ultimate aim of the work presented here is to establish a veridical model of the acquisition process. My approach is to encircle the model by developing logical and psychological constraints on a model. What is left, what satisfies the constraints, are possible models of acquisition. Within the circle delimited by the constraints, I present a m...
Article
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Some languages, like English, require overt surface subjects, while others, like Italian and Spanish, allow "null" subjects. How does the young child determine whether or not her language allows null subjects? Modern parameter-setting theory has proposed a solution, in which the child begins acquisition with the null subject parameter set for eithe...
Article
We examine the role of markers as anchor points in adult learning of a miniature artificial language, with and without an accompanying reference field. Two dialects of the same language were created, differing only in number of grammatical markers and “content” words. In the high-frequency dialect a given marker occurred six times as often as a giv...
Article
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Examined speech samples from 6 children (aged 2 yrs to 2 yrs 5 mo), with mean lengths of utterance (MLUs) ranging from 2.93 to 4.14, for evidence of 6 syntactic categories: determiner, adjective, noun, noun phrase, preposition, and prepositional phrase. Results indicate that all the Ss showed evidence of all categories, except for the lowest MLU S,...
Article
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This paper presents a hypothesis-testing theory of syntax acquisition. The first section presents our model. We claim that: (1) children learn a transformational grammar, including a set of phrase structure and transformational rules; (2) linguistic universals and Occam's razor constrain the initial hypothesis space available to the device; (3) hyp...
Article
4 locative categories were investigated to determine whether their examples were organized according to the prototype/nonprototype distinction. A ranking task was presented to 30 adult subjects to see whether they would judge those instances which had been designated as prototypes by the experimenter to be the best exemplars of each category. An el...
Article
The present study explores two questions: What is the nature of older children's syntactic knowledge; how is that knowledge used in an everyday speech situation? Six-, eight-, and ten-year-olds repeated grammatical sentences as read by the first experimenter. Half the sentences were syntactically clear, half slightly distorted. Clear versions displ...
Article
Errors in child speech show that some children initially formulate tense-hopping and subject-auxiliary inversion as copying without deletion. Other errors suggest that some children may formulate other movement rules as deletion without copying. A claim about the nature of the language acquisition device is made on the basis of our analysis of thes...
Article
To test the hypothesis that the meaning of a sentence is represented in an abstract format rather than one mediated by words or images, 96 spoken sentences were immediately followed by a word or drawing probe. Subjects decided whether or not the probe was related to the meaning of the sentence. Response times to the drawing and word probes did not...
Article
It was predicted that a talker would clarify the sentential relations of an utterance if a listener indicated difficulty in hearing and understanding. Subjects read syntactically clear and distorted sentences to a listener (experimenter) in an adjoining room. The experimenter often asked “What?” Subjects changed distorted versions to clear versions...
Article
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Why are there so few women in science, especially at the top? Hold on a minute. Is that the right question? That phrasing implies that science is different from other fields. Yet is it? In one way, science does differ from other fields. A smaller percentage of women get advanced degrees in most of the natural sciences (although not biology) than in...
Article
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Equity problems are a window on institutional effectiveness. Solving an equity problem can lead to better conditions and greater productivity - for everyone. o Women and minorities, as groups, have less power in institutions than do white men, as a group. Women and underrepresented minorities act as a proxy for those with less institutional power....
Article
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Negotiation is a valuable skill in every part of your life. When carried out effectively negotiation can produce an outcome that is mutually beneficial for both parties. Negotiation is most enjoyable when both parties think they have gained something and when both parties have developed a positive working relationship. Since many of your negotiatio...

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