Fei Xu

Fellow: Awarded 2018

Field of Study: Psychology

Competition: US & Canada

Fei Xu is a Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on cognitive and language development, from infancy to middle childhood. She uses behavioral experiments and computational models to understand how young children learn so fast and so well, and what kind of domain-general learning mechanisms explain children’s learning. In the last few years, she and her colleagues, collaborators, and students have developed a new approach to the study of cognitive development, rational constructivism, and she argues that human learners begin with a set of proto-conceptual primitives, and three types of learning mechanisms – language and symbol learning, Bayesian inductive learning, and constructive thinking – support belief revision, genuine conceptual change, and the development of intuitive theories. Fei completed her Ph.D. in Cognitive Science at MIT in 1995, and taught at Northeastern University and University of British Columbia before moving to Berkeley. She is the recipient of the Stanton Early Career Award from the Society for Philosophy and Psychology and Canada Research Chair, and she is a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and the Cognitive Science Society.