Samuel Johnson


  • 8 WEST 3.45

Accepting PhD Students

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Personal profile

Research interests

I study the cognitive science of markets: how the minds of individuals give rise to emergent economic order. I focus on tools that consumers, investors, and voters use to process information. These tools help us to overcome our inherent cognitive limits but also lead us to make mistakes in our everyday lives.

For example, in the domain of marketing, I have looked at consumers’ lay theories of economics, particularly their zero-sum intuitions about transactions, examining marketing messages that can highlight the benefits of foreign trade. In the domain of finance, I have examined how investors – both amateur and professional – use story-telling to predict future prices. In the policy domain, I have studied moral beliefs about economic exchange, with an eye toward how we can use this knowledge to help increase the supply of transplant organs.

In addition, I carry out basic research in cognitive science, focusing on heuristics and strategies that people intuitively use to evaluate hypotheses. I find that these same principles guide very different psychological processes, including causal reasoning, categorisation, and visual perception; that they are used by young children; and that they feed into complex social processes, such as mentalising, stereotyping, and moral judgment. For this research, I was honoured to receive the 2017 Robert Glushko Dissertation Prize from the Cognitive Science Society.

To learn more about my research, please visit my website.

Willing to supervise PhD

I am interested in supervising students on a broad range of topics within the broad areas of behavioural economics, consumer psychology, and cognitive and behavioural science. More details are available on my website.

Fingerprint Fingerprint is based on mining the text of the person's scientific documents to create an index of weighted terms, which defines the key subjects of each individual researcher.

heuristics Social Sciences
Psychology Medicine & Life Sciences
experiment Social Sciences
evidence Social Sciences
Cognition Medicine & Life Sciences
Cues Medicine & Life Sciences
Intuition Medicine & Life Sciences
moral judgement Social Sciences

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 2013 2018

Financial alchemists and financial shamans

Johnson, S. G. B. 2018 In : Behavioral and Brain Sciences. 41, e78

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Ceremonial Behavior
Salaries and Fringe Benefits

Why do people believe in a zero-sum economy?

Johnson, S. G. B. 17 Jan 2018 (Accepted/In press) In : Behavioral and Brain Sciences.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Belief digitization in economic prediction

Johnson, S. G. B. & Hill, F. 2017 Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. APA Books, p. 2314-2319 6 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Open Access
Conditional probability
Behavioral finance

Causal mechanisms

Johnson, S. G. B. & Ahn, W. 2017 The Oxford handbook of causal reasoning. Waldmann, M. R. (ed.). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, p. 127-146

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Open Access

Cognition as sense-making: An empirical enquiry

Johnson, S. G. B. 2017 168 p.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Open Access