Benjamin Swets

Benjamin Swets

Associate Professor - Cognitive/Language Psychology

  • B.A., Hope College
  • M.A., Ph.D., Michigan State University

Office: 2317 Au Sable Hall

Phone: (616) 331-2169



Cognitive Psychology

Courses Taught

PSY 101 - Introductory Psychology
PSY 300 - Research Methods
PSY 357 - Psychology of Language
PSY 365 - Cognition

Research Interests

My research engages several topics across both language production and comprehension, but one overall theme drives much of my work: the ability of people using language to flexibly adapt to internal and external limitations. The different strategies available to people producing and comprehending language reveals a language system that is adaptive to many cognitive, environmental and task constraints. It is my desire to explore the link between higher level and lower level aspects of cognition and language processing, and to view language as a process that requires the real-time integration of information. How the system can adapt to its environment could answer many unresolved questions of architecture in psycholinguistics. To this end, my past and current work has focused on such topics as incrementality in language production, working memory constraints on language comprehension, the influence of situational goals and real-time pressures on language processes, and the use of prospective memory to recover from interruptions. This program of research dovetails with many different branches of the cognitive sciences, including linguistics, human factors, and the psychological areas of memory, attention, visual cognition, and executive control.

Representative Publications

Swets, B., & Kurby, C. A. (2016). Eye movements reveal the influence of event structure on reading behavior. Cognitive Science, 40, 466–480. doi: 10.1111/cogs.12240

Swets, B. (2015). Psycholinguistics and planning: A focus on individual differences. In S. Fuchs & P. Perrier (Eds.), Speech Production and Perception: Individual Differences in Speech Production and Perception (pp. 89-122). Peter Lang International Academic Publishers.

Swets, B., Jacovina, M. E., & Gerrig, R. J. (2014). Individual differences in the scope of speech planning: Evidence from eye movements. Language and Cognition, 6, 12-44.

Swets, B., Jacovina, M. E., & Gerrig, R. J. (2013). Effects of conversational pressures on speech planning. Discourse Processes, 50, 23-51.

Swets, B., Desmet, T., Clifton, C., & Ferreira, F. (2008). Underspecification of syntactic ambiguities: Evidence from self-paced reading. Memory and Cognition, 36, 201-216.

Swets, B., Desmet, T., Hambrick, D. Z., & Ferreira, F. (2007). The role of working memory in syntactic ambiguity resolution: A psychometric approach. Journal of Experiment Psychology: General, 136, 64-81.