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Daniel Levin

Professor of Psychology and Human Development
Director of Graduate Studies
Co-Director of Cognition & Cognitive Neuroscience Program

Research in the Levin lab is focused on the interface between concepts and visual perception. To this end, we have been exploring the concepts associated with a variety of object categories, and the knowledge that drives visual selection during scene and event perception. Some of our research explores how knowledge and other basic cognitive constraints affect scene and event perception. For example, we are currently exploring how people perceive the sequence of natural visual events, and how they represent space while viewing movies. In a related research, we are exploring how visual attention and concepts about agency, affect event perception, human-computer interaction, and learning from agent-based tutoring systems. This line of research represents an interdisciplinary collaboration with our lab, Adrianne Seiffert's lab (Cognitive Development), and labs in engineering (led by Gautam Biswas), and has recently been supported a grants from the NSF. In these projects, we have been employing a combination of behavioral measures and eye tracking to understand visual attention and learning in naturalistic settings. 

In another current project, we are collaborating with the McCandliss lab to explore how natural events shape reasoning about number and theory of mind. To do this, we have created a narrative film depicting these sorts of events and we will be collecting fMRI data from children while they view this film. To view the introductory segment to our film see:

Currently, the lab includes Chris Jaeger (graduate student) and Josh Little (research assistant). Grad student alumni include Bonnie Angelone, Lewis Baker, Melissa Beck, Jonathan Herberg, Stephen Killingsworth, Yukari Takarae, Alex Varakin, and Joe Wayand.

I received by BA from Reed College in 1990, and my Ph.D. at Cornell University in 1997, then moved to a faculty position Kent State University. Starting in 2003, I have been here at Vanderbilt where I am Professor of Psychology in the Peabody's department of Psychology and Human Development.

Lab Website

Representative Publications

Levin, D.T., & Baker, L.J. (in press). Bridging views in cinema: A review of the art and science of view integration. WIREs Cognitive Science

Jaeger, C.B., & Levin, D.T. (in press). If Asimo thinks, does Roomba feel?: The legal implications of promiscuous and selective attributions of agency to technology.

Jaeger, C.B., Levin, D.T., & Porter, E. (in press). Justice is (Change) Blind: Applying Research on Visual Metacognition in Legal Settings.

Lyngs, U., Cohen, E., Hatttori, W.T., Newson, M., & Levin, D.T. (in press). Hearing in Color: How Expectations Distort Perception of Skin Tone. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance.  

Baker, L.J., Hymel, A.M., & Levin, D.T. (2016). Anthropomorphism and intentionality improve memory for events. Discourse Processes. DOI

Baker, L.J., & Levin, D.T. (2016). The Face-Race Lightness Illusion is Not Driven by Low-level Stimulus Properties: An Empirical Reply to Firestone & Scholl (2014). Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. DOI 10.3758/s13423-016-1048-z

Baker, L.J., Levin, D.T., & Saylor, M.M. (2016). The extent of default visual perspective taking in complex layouts. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. 42(4), 508-16.

Hymel, A.M., Levin, D.T., & Baker, L.J. (2016). Default processing of event sequences. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 42, 235-246.

Baker, L.J., & Levin, D.T. (2015). The role of relational triggers in event updating. Cognition, 136, 14-29.

Levin, D.T., & Baker, L.J. (2015). Change blindness and inattentional blindness. In Fawcett, J., Risko, E.F. & Kingstone, A. (Eds.), The Handbook of Attention, (pp 199-232), Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.  

Levin, D.T., Killingsworth, S.S., Saylor, M.M., Gordon, S., & Kawamura, K. (2013). Tests of concepts about different kinds of minds: Predictions about the behavior of comptuers, robots, and people. Human-Computer Interaction. 28:2, 161-191.

Levin, D.T., Harriott, C., Paul, N., Zhang, T, & Adams, J.A., (2013). Cognitive dissonance as a measure of reactions to human-robot interaction. Journal of Human-Robot Interaction, 2(3), 1-17.

Levin, D.T., Hymel, A.M., & Baker, L. (2013). Belief, desire, action, and other stuff: Theory of mind in movies. In A. Shimamura (Ed.) Psychocinematics: Exploring Cognition at the Movies, (pp. 244-266), Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Levin, D.T., Adams, J.A., Saylor, M.M., Biswas, G. (2013). A transition model for cognitions about agency. Proceedings of the 8th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaciton, 373-380.

Herberg, J.S., Levin, D.T., & Saylor, M, M. (2012). Social audiences can disrupt learning by teaching.  Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48 (1), 213-219.

Herberg, J. S., Levin, D.T., & Saerbeck, M. (2012). Positive and Negative Learning Impacts from Technological Social Agents. In Proceedings of the 20th International Conference on Computers in Education ICCE. #211s.

Smith, T.J., Levin, D.T., & Cutting, J.E. (2012). A window on reality: Perceiving edited moving pictures. Current Directions in Psychological Sciences, 21 (2), 107-113.

Levin, D.T., Saylor, M.M., & Lynn, S.D. (2012). Distinguishing first-line defaults from second-line conceptualization in reasoning about humans, robots, and computers. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies. 70 (8), 527-534.

Levin, D.T., & Hymel, A.M. (2012). Making the case for nonpredictive continuity perception. Projections: The journal for movies and mind. 6 (1), 61-70.

Levin, D.T. (2012). Concepts about agency constrain beliefs about visual experience. Consciousness and Cognition. 21 (2), 875-888.

Levin, D.T. (2012). [Review of the book Great Flicks: Scientific Studies of Cinematic Creativity and Aesthetics] Projections: The journal for movies and mind. 6(2).

Killingsworth, S.S., Saylor, M.M., & Levin, D.T. (2011). Analyzing action for agents with varying cognitive capacities. Social Cognition, 29, 56-73.

Somanader, M., Saylor, M.M., & Levin, D.T. (2011). Remote control and children's understanding of robots. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 109, 239-247.

Ho, A.K., Sidanus, J., Levin, D.T., & Banaji, M. (2011). Evidence for hypodescent and racial hierarchy in the perception of biracial individuals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100, 492-506.

Hymel, A. M., Levin, D.T., Barrett, J., Saylor, M. M., & Biswas, G. (2011). The interaction of childrens’ concepts abut agents and their ability to use an agent-based tutoring system. Proceedings of the 2011 Human-Computer Interantional Conference, 580-589.

Saylor, M.M., Somanader, M., Levin, D.T., & Kawamura, K. (2010). Defying expectations: How do young children deal with hybrids of basic categories?  British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 28, 835-851.

Levin, D.T., Angelone, B.L., & Beck, M.R. (2010). Visual search for rare targets: Distractor tuning as a mechanism for learning from repeated target-absent searches. British Journal of Psychology

Levin, D.T. (2010). Spatial representations of the sets of familiar and unfamiliar television programs. Media Psychology, 13(1), 54-76.

Levin, D.T., & Wang, C. (2009). Spatial representation in film. Projections: The Journal for Movies and Mind, 3, 24-52.

Herberg, J.S., Saylor, M.M., Ratanaswasd, R., Levin, D.T., Wilkes, M. (2008). Audience-contingent variation in action demonstrations for humans and computers. Cognitive Science, 32, 1003-1020.

Hunter, J.E., Wilkes, D.M., Levin, D.T., Heaton, C., & Saylor M.M. (2008). Autonomous segmentation of human action for behavior analysis. Proceedings of the 7th Annual International Conference on Development and Learning, 7, 250-255.

Beck, M. R., Angelone, B.A., Levin, D.T., Peterson, M.S., & Varakin, D.A. (2008) Implicit learning for probable changes in a visual change detection task. Consciousness and Cognition, 17, 1192-1208.

Levin, D.T., & Saylor, M.M (2008). Shining spotlights, zooming lenses, grabbing hands, and pecking chickens: The ebb and flow of attention during events. In T. Shipley, and J. Zacks (Eds), Understanding events: From perception to action. (pp. 522-554). New York: Oxford University Press.

Levin, D.T., Killingsworth, S.S., Saylor, M.M. (2008). Concepts about the capabilities of computers and robots: A test of the scope of adults' theory of mind. Proceedings of the 3rd Annual IEEE International Workshop on Human and Robot Interaction, 3, 57-64.

Varakin, D.A., & Levin, D.T. (2008). Scene structure enhances change detection. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. 61, 543-551.

Varakin, D.A., Levin, D.T., & Collins, K. (2007). Comparison and representation failures both cause real-world change blindness. Perception, 36, 737-749.

Beck, M.R., Levin, D.T., & Angelone, B.L. (2007).  Change blindness blindness: Beliefs about the roles of intention and scene complexity in change detection. Consciousness and Cognition, 16, 31-51.

Levin, D.T., & Banaji, M.R. (2006). Distortions in the perceived lightness of faces: The role of race categories. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 135, 501-512.

Arrington, J.G., Levin, D.T., & Varakin, D.A. (2006).  Color onsets and offsets, and luminance changes can cause change blindness. Perception, 35, 1665-1678.

Levin, D.T., Saylor, M.M., Varakin, D.A., Gordon, S.M., Kawamura, K, & Wilkes, D.M. (2006). Thinking about thinking in computers, robots, and people. Proceedings of the 5th Annual International Conference on Development and Learning, 5, 49.

Varakin, D.A., & Levin, D.T. (2006).  How can visual memory be so good if change detection is so bad?  Visual representations get rich so they can act poor. British Journal of Psychology, 91, 51-77.