I work in experimental pragmatics, which employs methods from psycholinguistics to investigate theoretical pragmatics. My research centers around four areas: lexical pragmatics (or how we modulate word meanings in context), figurative language interpretation (particularly metaphor), referential communication (how people produce and interpret referential expressions) and Theory of Mind (more specifically, false-belief reasoning).
In my studies I have investigated the pragmatic abilities of both children and adults using a variety of behavioural methods (e.g., language production and reading times) as well as eye-tracking (continuous recording of eye movements during language processing).
Higher education and employment history
- 2014 - 2018 Researcher at the Center for the Study of Mind in Nature (CSMN)
- 2014 - 2017 Honorary Research Associate at the Linguistics Department in UCL
- 2011-2014 Post-doctoral researcher in project funded by the Leverhulme Trust at the Linguistics Department in University College London (UCL)
- 2009-2011 Research Fellow at the Linguistics Department in UCL
- 2006-2009 Research Fellow at the Psychology Department in Princeton University
- 2005-2006 Research Fellow at the Linguistics Department in UCL
- 2005 PhD from Cambridge University under the supervision of Richard Breheny
- 2001 MPhil in English and Applied Linguistics from Cambridge University
- 1999 MA in Theoretical Linguistics from Reading University (UK)
- 1999 BA in Spanish Philology from the Universidad de Oviedo (Spain)
Grants and Fellowships
- Young Research Talent Grant from the Norwegian Research Council (Project fully funded by the FRIHUMSAM program) – 2014-2018
- Named Research Associate in Research Project Grant from the Leverhulme Trust with Professor Robyn Carston (UCL; PI) and Professor Catherine Wearing (Wellesley College) – 2011-2014
- Euro-XPrag Collaborative Grant with Susanne Grassmann (Groningen) and Bart Geurts (Nijmegen), European Science Foundation (ESF) – 2010-2012
- Euro-XPrag Collaborative Grant with Steve Butterfill (Warwick) and Daniel Richardson (UCL), European Science Foundation (ESF) – 2010-2012
- International Training and Networking Opportunities for Early-Career Researchers Grant, UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) – 2010-2012
- Euro-XPrag Collaborative Grant with Sam Glucksberg (Princeton), European Science Foundation (ESF) – 2009-2011
- Marie Curie Outgoing International Fellowship – 2006-2011
- British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellowship – 2005-2008
- UK Arts and Humanities Research Board Postgraduate Grant (AHRB) – 2000-2004
I am currently collaborating or have collaborated with the following researchers:
- Steve Butterfill (Warwick University)
- Robyn Carston (UCL)
- Chris Cummins (University of Edinburgh)
- Heather Ferguson (University of Kent)
- Bart Geurts (University of Nijmegen)
- Edward Gibson (MIT)
- Sam Glucksberg (Princeton University)
- Susanne Grassmann (University of Zürich)
- Julian Jara-Ettinger (Yale University)
- Daniel Richardson (UCL)
- Pawan Sinha (MIT)
- Ye Tian (Université Paris Diderot)
- Catherine Wearing (Wellesley College)
Rubio-Fernández, P., Jara-Ettinger, J. & Gibson, E. (2017). Can processing demands explain toddlers' performance in false-belief tasks? Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Rubio-Fernández, P. (2016). The Director’s task: A test of Theory-of-Mind use or selective attention? Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. First Online.
Rubio-Fernández, P. (2016). Why are bilinguals better than monolinguals at false-belief tasks? Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. First Online.
Rubio-Fernández, P., Geurts, B. & Cummins, C. (2016). Is an apple like a fruit? A study on comparison and categorisation statements. Review of Philosophy and Psychology. First Online.
Rubio-Fernández, P. (2016). How redundant are redundant colour adjectives? An efficiency-based analysis of color overspecification. Frontiers in Psychology. Special issue on Models of Reference.
Rubio-Fernández, P., Cummins, C. & Tian, Y. (2016). Are single and extended metaphors processed differently? A test of two Relevance-Theoretic accounts. Journal of Pragmatics. First Online.
Rubio-Fernández, P. (2015). Can we forget what we know in a false-belief task? An investigation of the true-belief default. Cognitive Science. First Online.
Rubio-Fernández, P. & Geurts, B. (2015). Don't mention the marble! The role of attentional processes in false-belief tasks. Review of Philosophy and Psychology. First Online.
Geurts, B. & Rubio-Fernández, P. (2015). Pragmatics and processing. Ratio, 28(4), 446-469.
Rubio-Fernández, P. & Grassmann, S. (2015). Metaphors as second labels: Difficult for preschool children? Journal of Psycholinguistic Research. First Online.
Rubio-Fernández, P., Wearing, C. & Carston, R. (2015). Metaphor and hyperbole: Testing the continuity hypothesis. Metaphor & Symbol, 30, 24-40.
Rubio-Fernández, P. (2013). Perspective tracking in progress: Do not disturb. Cognition, 129, 264-272
Rubio-Fernández, P. and Geurts, B. (2013). How to pass the false-belief task before your 4th birthday. Psychological Science, 24, 27-33
Rubio-Fernández, P. and Glucksberg, S. (2013). False-belief reasoning and bilingualism. Invited contribution to the McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science and Technology 2013, pp.134-136. McGraw-Hill Inc, New York
Rubio-Fernández, P. and Glucksberg, S. (2012). Reasoning about other people’s beliefs: Bilinguals have an advantage. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 38, 211–217
Rubio-Fernández, P. (2012). Associative and inferential processes in pragmatic enrichment: The case of emergent properties. Language and Cognitive Processes, 28, 723-745
Rubio-Fernández, P. (2008). Concept narrowing: The role of context-independent information in concepts. Journal of Semantics, 25, 381-409.
Rubio-Fernández, P. (2008). On the automaticity of egocentricity: A review of the Egocentric Anchoring and Adjustment model of perspective taking. UCL Working Papers in Linguistics, 20, 247-274.
Khemlani, S., Leslie, S-J, Glucksberg, S. and Rubio-Fernández, P. (2007). Do ducks lay eggs? How people interpret generic assertions. Proceedings of the 2007 Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci07).
Rubio-Fernández, P. (2007). Suppression in metaphor interpretation: Differences between meaning selection and meaning construction. Journal of Semantics, 24, 345-371.
Rubio- Fernández, P., Breheny, R. & Lee, M.W. (2003). Context-independent information in concepts: An investigation of the notion of ‘core features’. Proceedings of the 2003 Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci03).
Rubio- Fernández, P. (2001). Inhibition of core features in metaphor interpretation. Working Papers in English and Applied Linguistics, 8,73-100. University of Cambridge