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Evan Heit

Title: 
Professor
Phone: 
(209) 228-4334
Education: 
  • Ph.D., 1990 — Stanford University
  • B.S.E., 1986 — University of Pennsylvania
  • B.A., 1986 — University of Pennsylvania
Research Interests: 

Psychology and cognitive science, focusing on reasoning, memory and categorization.

Media Contact: 
Background: 

What differentiates human beings from all other forms of life on earth is the ability to reason. The extraordinary capacity of the human mind to process and retain information and make decisions based on that information has fascinated researchers for ages. Modern science and research methodologies are slowly unlocking the mysteries of how the mind performs – or misperforms – under differing circumstances.

Evan Heit is a leading authority on key aspects of mental performance. In particular, his research focuses on categorization, inductive reasoning and memory. How does the mind organize and store information for later recall? How does prior knowledge of a general category of things, such as breakfast cereals, affect the learning process when a new member of the category is encountered? Why do false memories occur? Does the mind really play “tricks” on itself?

Understanding mental response to stimuli is fundamental to many aspects of human enterprise, from fashion and design to product advertising, courtroom testimony and politics. Heit can explain how the mind processes and sorts stimuli and what factors may have the greatest influence on the decision-making process.

Heit holds B.A. and B.S.E. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph. D. from Stanford University. He is well published in the field of cognitive science and human memory, with dozens or articles to his credit. Prior to becoming a professor at UC Merced in 2005, Heit was a faculty member at the University of Warwick in England.