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Professor Ruth Byrne

Professor of Cognitive Science (Psychology)

Professor of Cognitive Science (Trinity Inst. of Neurosciences (TCIN))

Ruth Byrne is the Professor of Cognitive Science at Trinity College Dublin, University of Dublin, in the School of Psychology and the Institute of Neuroscience, a Chair created for her by the University in 2005. Her research expertise is in the cognitive science of human thinking, including experimental and computational investigations of reasoning and imaginative thought. Her books include 'The Rational Imagination: How People Create Alternatives to Reality' published in 2005 by MIT press (and selected for open peer commentary by the Behavioral and Brain Sciences journal in 2007), and 'Deduction', co-authored with Phil Johnson-Laird, published in 1991 by Erlbaum Associates (and selected for open peer commentary by the Behavioral and Brain Sciences journal in 1993). She has published over 100 articles in journals such as the Annual Review of Psychology, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Psychological Review, Current Directions in Psychological Science, Cognitive Psychology, Cognitive Science,and Cognition (see She is the former Vice Provost of Trinity College Dublin, University of Dublin, the 68th Vice Provost since the University was established in 1592 (the first was Henry Ussher in 1594) and the second woman to be appointed to the role (see Prior to that she was the Head of the School of Psychology and former Deputy Director of the Institute of Neuroscience. Her recent service to the discipline includes serving as an Associate Editor for Memory and Cognition, journal of the US Psychonomic Society, and she is the current Chair of the European Research Council's advanced grants panel on the Human Mind and its Complexity. Her recent service in Trinity includes serving on the Board of the Institute of Neuroscience, member of the College Audit Committee, Chair of the Senior Promotions Committee for the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Mathematics, and member of the central Senior Promotions Committee. Her BA degree was awarded by the National University of Ireland, University College Dublin in 1983 and her PhD by the University of Dublin, Trinity College Dublin in 1987, and she worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge. Prior to her appointment at Trinity College, she held lectureships in the computer science department at University College Dublin and in the psychology department at the University of Wales at Cardiff. She is a member of the Royal Irish Academy and a Fellow of Trinity College Dublin, and of the US Association for Psychological Science.
Counterfactual reasoning and imagination in, editor(s)L.J. Ball & V.A. Thompson , International Handbook of Thinking and Reasoning, London, Routledge, 2018, pp71 - 87, [Byrne, R.M.J.], Book Chapter, PUBLISHED
Espino, O. & Byrne, R.M.J. , Thinking about the opposite of what is said: counterfactual conditionals and symbolic or alternate simulations of negation, Cognitive Science, 42, (8), 2018, p2459 - 2501, Journal Article, PUBLISHED
Byrne, R.M.J. & Timmons, S., Moral hindsight for good actions and the effects of imagined alternatives to reality, Cognition, 178, 2018, p82 - 91, Journal Article, PUBLISHED
Moreno-Rios, S. & Byrne, R.M.J. , Inferences from disclosures about the truth and falsity of expert testimony, Thinking and Reasoning., 24, (1), 2018, p41 - 78, Journal Article, PUBLISHED
Parkinson, M. & Byrne, R.M.J. , Judgments of moral responsibility and wrongness for intentional and accidental harm and purity violations., Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology., 71, (3), 2018, p779 - 789, Journal Article, PUBLISHED
Timmons, S & Byrne, R.M.J., Moral Fatigue: The Effects of Cognitive Fatigue on Moral Reasoning, Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 2018, Journal Article, IN_PRESS  DOI
Khemlani, S., Byrne, R.M.J., & Johnson-Laird, P.N., Facts and possibilities: A model- based theory of sentential reasoning, Cognitive Science, 42, (6), 2018, p1887 - 1924, Journal Article, PUBLISHED
Byrne, R.M.J., Counterfactual thinking: From logic to morality, Current Directions in Psychological Science, 26, (4), 2017, p314 - 322, Journal Article, PUBLISHED
Parkinson, M. & Byrne, R.M.J. , Counterfactual and semifactual thoughts in moral judgments about failed attempts to harm. , Thinking and Reasoning, 23, (4), 2017, p409 - 448, Journal Article, PUBLISHED
Rasga, C., Quelhas, A. C., & Byrne, R. M.J., How children with autism reason about other's intentions: false-belief and counterfactual inferences. , Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 47, (6), 2017, p1806 - 1817, Journal Article, PUBLISHED

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