Professor Asifa Majid
Inspirational Research Leader



Asifa Majid completed her undergraduate degree and PhD in psychology at the University of Glasgow with an intermediate year at the University of Edinburgh where she was awarded an MSc in Cognitive Science and Natural Language. She then moved to the Netherlands in 2001 where she was first a Marie Curie Fellow, and then later a Senior Investigator at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen. After 11 years at the Max Planck Institute, she moved to Radboud University as a Professor at the Center for Language Studies. In 2018 Asifa joined the Department of Psychology at the University of York.

Majid has been awarded various prizes and awards (e.g., Ammodo KNAW Award for the Humanities, Radboud Science Award) and received a NWO VICI grant (€1.5 million) to study olfactory language and cognition across diverse cultures. She is an elected Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and The Academy of Europe (Linguistics Section).


  • 2018-present, Inspirational Research Leader Appointment, University of York )
  • 2018-present, Professor of Language, Communication and Cultural Cognition, Department of Psychology, University of York
  • 2012-2018, Professor of Language, Communication and Cultural Cognition, Centre for Language Studies, Radboud University Nijmegen
  • 2010-2018, Affiliated Principal Investigator, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
  • 2012-2019, Affiliated Research Fellow, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
  • 2011-2012, Senior Investigator, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
  • 2004-2010, Scientific Staff member, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
  • 2001-2003, Marie Curie post-doctoral fellow, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
  • 2000-2001, University lecturer, Department of Psychology, University of Glasgow

Visiting scholar

  • April-May 2017, Awarded a Benjamin Meaker Visiting Professorship by the Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Bristol
  • Sept-Dec 2012, Awarded Fellowship to Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study, Uppsala
  • Aug 2005, Teacher's College, Columbia University, New York
  • Aug 2002, Max Planck Institute for History of Science, Berlin
  • Oct-Dec 2001, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen
  • Sept 2001, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada
  • March-Sept 1999, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • Nov 1998, University of Provence, France


  • PhD, Psychology, University of Glasgow, 2001
  • MSc, Cognitive Science and Natural Language, University of Edinburgh, 1997     
  • MA (Hons) First Class, Psychology with Philosophy, University of Glasgow, 1996 



  • 2016-2021, Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (approx. €1.5 million; co-PI Language as key to perceptual diversity: An interdisciplinary approach to the senses)
  • 2013-2023, NWO Gravitation Grant (€ 27.6 million; co-PI of Language in Interaction)
  • 2012-2017, NWO VICI Grant (€1.5 million Human olfaction at the intersection of language, culture and biology)


  • 2015, Recipient of Ammodo KNAW Award 2015 (€300,000) for fundamental research, a joint initiative of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Ammodo Foundation
  • 2015, Recipient of the Radboud Science Award 2015, awarded for the “best, most important, and most stimulating scientific research”
  • 2015, Co-recipient of Drongo Science Live Award 2015 for public engagement at the biggest Language Festival in the Netherlands
  • 2014, Elected as one of the Libertine 100, “a carefully chosen community of thinkers – in our launch year, all women – with complex, beautiful and potentially world-changing ideas.”


Selected publications

  • Majid, A., Roberts, S. G., Cilissen, L., Emmorey, K., Nicodemus, B., O'Grady, L., Woll, B., LeLan, B., De Sousa, H., Cansler, B. L., Shayan, S., De Vos, C., Senft, G., Enfield, N. J., Razak, R. A., Fedden, S., Tufvesson, S., Dingemanse, M., Ozturk, O., Brown, P., Hill, C., Le Guen, O., Hirtzel, V., Van Gijn, R., Sicoli, M. A., & Levinson, S. C. (2018). Differential coding of perception in the world’s languages. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Advance online publication. doi:10.1073/pnas.1720419115.

  • Majid, A., Burenhult, N., Stensmyr, M., De Valk, J., & Hansson, B. S. (2018). Olfactory language and abstraction across cultures. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 373: 20170139. doi:10.1098/rstb.2017.0139.

  • Majid, A., & Kruspe, N. (2018). Hunter-gatherer olfaction is special. Current Biology, 28(3), 409-413. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2017.12.014.

  • Speed, L. J., & Majid, A. (2018). Superior olfactory language and cognition in odor-color synaesthesia. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 44(3), 468-481. doi:10.1037/xhp0000469.


External activities



  • Elected Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science (2018)
  • Elected Fellow of Academia Europaea “The Academy of Europe” (Linguistics Section) (2013)

Academic service

  • Committee Member Linguistics Section of the Academia Europaea (2018-2022)
  • Governing Board of the Cognitive Science Society (2016-2022)
  • Chair of the Cognitive Science Society (2019-2020); Chair-elect (2018-2019)
  • Co-Chair Program Committee International Convention of Psychological Science (2017-2019)
  • International Panel British Psychological Society’s The Psychologist(2016-ongoing)

Editorial duties

  • 2018-present   Associate Editor for Cognitive Science
  • 2011-present   Associate Editor for Emotion Review
  • 2010-present   Editorial board for Discourse Processes


Contact details

Asifa Majid
Department of Psychology
University of York
Room PS/C206

Tel: 01904 323165