Dr. Alexandra Frazer
Assistant Professor, Cognitive Psychology
I am mainly interested in teaching courses related to methodology and statistics and in cognitive psychology and cognitive science. At Muhlenberg, I teach a variety of courses about research methodology and cognition, but I also teach the training course for new learning assistants, Adult Personal and Cognitive Development. Teaching that course is particularly fun because it covers how we learn and how we can use what we know about learning to improve teaching and classroom experiences. I get the opportunity to take a lot of the discussion with students from this class and apply it directly to my other classes.
Research, Scholarship or Creative/Artistic Interests
My research interests include psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, the representation of conceptual knowledge, memory, attention and language use in society and by the media.
I am currently pursuing three questions related to language production:
First, I am interested in how recent use of certain grammatical structures influences later use of those same structures and alternatives (e.g. active/passive alternation). I am also interested in how the availability of to-be-spoken words influences structural selection.
Second, I am researching word form production by considering which components of words are the functional units of phonological encoding. Participants are given a group of words that share the initial sounds (e.g. bake beach, bore, boot) and asked to iteratively name them. The degree of relatedness in sounds is varied and we compare how easily participants can access those words compared to ones that do not share a relationship. My lab is currently also looking at whether profanity is prepared to be spoken in the same way as non-taboo language using this paradigm.
Third, I am also studying the combined effects of phonological form preparation, a facilitatory attentional process (described above) and semantic interference, which involves unconscious adaptation in memory, using blocked cyclic picture naming to understand how both sound and meaning contribute independently to word production.
My previous work has been on sentence structure selection when writers describe interpersonal and sexual violence, which I am interested in expanding into an analysis of social media content.