Language, culture, and folk psychology

The project

During my PhD I worked on the relationship between language development and theory of mind; in particular, I have argued in my dissertation that language provides helps the developing mind forming schemata that are used to understand others. In my framework, the conjunction of syntactic information and social narratives provide the basis for a more regular understanding of how others entertain different points of view. I my current work, I explore the way schemata form from a variety of input, language included, and how they are used to speed up and simplify our social cognition. I am currently taking into examination, in particular, the way in which emotional components contribute to our judgements in social cognition.

Moreover, I am a collaborator to the project “The Communicative Mind” led by Richard Moore at the University of Warwick, where I explore how research on child development as well as ape cognition can inform our understanding of the role that culture has in shaping our cognitive abilities.

Language, schemata, and gender


This project is dedicated in particular to how language related to gender impacts our cognition, and in particular on how stereotypes transmitted culturally and via language have an impact on how we see as well as understand others. Part of this work is made in cooperation with Kristina Musholt (University of Leipzig). In 2021, Kristina and I received a grant from the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung for this work; while I could not accept the grant given my new contract in Bochum, our work on this topic continues. In our co-authored paper, we explore the role that generics have in fostering stereotype formation; in our future work, we intend to look at how linguistic and cultural information of this sort impacts self-knowledge as well. In my single-author work, I look in particular at how syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic information come together to foster generalisation on gender roles.

Philosophy of race, cross-culturally


In April 2021, Benedict Kenyah-Damptey, Daniel James, and I have been awarded a grant by the Bürgeruniversität Düsseldorf titled “Rasse – Negotiating a Fraught German Term”. The aim of the project is twofold: First, to offer a comparative empirical analysis of conceptions of race in the United States and Germany in light of current theories of the ordinary concept of race. Second, to determine whether the goals of anti-racist social movements in Germany call for ameliorating ‘Rasse’ or even eliminating it altogether. Because those who have a stake in the outcome should have a say in the process, we will pursue both aims in close collaboration with our stakeholders. You can read more about our project here. We collaborate for this project with the linguists Kurt Erbach and Esther Seyffarth, as well as with the philosopher Steffen Koch and the philosopher and psychologist Alex Wiegmann.

Philosophy of AI


Since January 2021 I am employed with the project INTERACT! at the Ruhr University of Bochum where I focus on how current understanding of social cognition can inform our interaction with robotic agents and Artificial Intelligence. With Basil Wahn, I am also exploring the extent to which we take robot’s perspective into consideration in simple tasks.

Related publications

(Forthcoming) Berio, L. And Moore, R. Great Ape Enculturation Studies: A Neglected Resource in Cognitive Development Research, Biology and Philosophy

2023 Berio L, Newen A, Moore R. Metarepresentation, Trust, and “Unleashed Expression”. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 1–2. doi:10.1017/S0140525X22000759

2021 Berio, L. Talking About Thinking: Language, Thought, and Mentalizing, Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2021.

2021 Berio, L. “Culturally embedded schemata for false belief reasoning”, Synthese Special Issue: The cultural evolution of human social cognition, ed. by R. Moore,

(in preparation) Person impression and Emotion impression (with Albert Newen)

related publications

2022 Berio, L and Musholt, K. “How language shapes our minds: On the relationship between generics, stereotypes and social norms”. Mind and Language

(in preparation) Language, gender, and thought: beyond Whorfianism, with schemata

(in preparation) Shaping the moral and mental landscape: virtue signalling as a form of mindshpaing

(in press) Erbach, K. and Berio,L. “Countability shifts in the normative dimension“. Forthcoming in Proceedings of Sinn und Beduetung 26.


2023 Erbach, K. , Kenyah-Damptey, B., Berio, L., James, D., and Seyffarth, E. “A comparative corpus study of “race” and “Rasse”, Applied Corpus Linguistics (3) doi:10.1016/j.acorp.2023.100044.

(submitted) The folk concept of race, cross-culturally (with Daniel James, Benedict Kenyah-Damptey, Steffen Koch, Alex Wiegmann)

(submitted) How do Germans and US-Americans Conceive of Race? Using Corpus Analysis and Semantic Feature Production Tasks to Compare the Structure of Race Conceptions (with Daniel James, Benedict Kenyah-Damptey, and Kurt Erbach)


(submitted) Try to see it my way: Humans Take the Level‐1 Visual Perspective of Humanoid Robot Avatars (with Basil Wahn, Albert Newen, and Mathias Weiß), preprint: 10.31234/

(in preparation) Affective cognition and HRI (with Albert Newen)

Blog at