Murphy, Gregory L(eo)

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MURPHY, Gregory L(eo)


Male. Education: Johns Hopkins University, B.A., 1978, M.A., 1978; Stanford University, Ph.D., 1982.


Office—Dept. of Psychology, New York University, 6 Washington Pl., New York, NY 10003. E-mail—[email protected].


Brown University, Providence, RI, began as assistant professor, became associate professor, 1982-91; University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, began as associate professor, became professor, 1991-2001; New York University, New York, professor of psychology, 2001—.


The Big Book of Concepts, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 2002.

Writings included in books by others, including Discourse Ability and Brain Damage: Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives, edited by Y. Joanette and H. H. Brownell, Springer-Verlag (New York, NY), 1990; Discourse Representation and Text Processing, edited by J. Oakhill and A. Garnham, Erlbaum (Hillsdale, NJ), 1993; Explanation and Cognition, edited by R. A. Wilson and F. C. Keil, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 2000; Lexicology: An International Handbook on the Nature and Structure of Words and Vocabularies, edited by D. A. Cruse and others, Walter de Gruyter (Berlin, Germany), 2002; and The Psychology of Learning and Motivation, Volume 43, edited by B. H. Ross, Academic Press (San Diego, CA), 2003. Contributor to periodicals and journals, including Child Development, Journal of Memory and Language, Journal of Experimental Psychology, Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, Memory & Cognition, and Psychological Science.


Gregory L. Murphy is a professor of psychology whose research interests focus on concepts. The Big Book of Concepts opens with the statement that concepts "are the glue that holds our mental world together." Because humans grasp concepts—especially the idea that generalizations can be made from specific examples—there is no need to relearn that one can sit in a chair, whether it be a traditional chair, or an object that is very different, like a beanbag chair, but which serves as a place to sit. Paul Bloom noted in Nature that Murphy's book "is so big because it reviews experimental research from several research areas … such as the sorts of concepts formed by babies and young children, the comprehension of new conceptual combinations, and the effects of expertise on categorization."

Choice reviewer D. S. Dunn pointed out that Murphy "writes with clarity and wit about what many psychologists consider a technical (if not dry) topic." Jerry Fodor suggested in Times Literary Supplement that the book "summarizes, and comments on, an impressive variety of the key experimental findings, and it is a reliable guide to the standard interpretations of these data. Murphy has provided a really invaluable resource for students and researchers, and the merely curious will benefit from skimming. At a minimum, the nearly forty pages of references are a godsend for those of us who are bibliographically challenged."

Bloom called Murphy "one of the leading scholars in this area.… This is going to be the classic text in the field for a very long time. It is one of those rare cases in which the standard back-of-the-book blurb is actually true. Anyone interested in concepts and categorization … must read this book."



Choice, April, 2003, D. S. Dunn, review of The Big Book of Concepts, p. 1447.

Nature, January 16, 2003, Paul Bloom, review of The Big Book of Concepts, pp. 212-213.

Times Literary Supplement, January 17, 2003, Jerry Fodor, review of The Big Book of Concepts, pp. 3-4.


Gregory L. Murphy Home Page, (June 9, 2004).

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Murphy, Gregory L(eo)

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