Thalia Vrantsidis

Not pictured.

Assistant Professor

Cognitive Science

Explanation, Stereotyping, Emotions

Ph.D. University of Toronto, 2021


Dr. Vrantsidis is recruiting graduate students this year (to start Fall 2024)!

Research interests:

I am interested broadly in what it means for people to understand, especially in the sense that we find most valuable (e.g., as in the ‘aha’ moment of an insight when we suddenly understand something better, or the sense of ‘really understanding’ another person that can be so deeply valuable). In studying these ideas, my work uses an interdisciplinary approach, which integrates social, cognitive, philosophical, and computational perspectives, and combines human behavioral studies and formal modelling (e.g., Bayesian cognitive modelling).

Within this, my current research focuses on two themes:

What makes for a subjectively good explanation (i.e., a subjectively good way of understanding something)? 

Example questions in this area include: why do we often prefer simpler explanations, and what computational and cognitive functions might this serve?

How does our understanding go wrong, especially when we try to understand other people based on their groups (as in cases of stereotyping)?

Example questions in this area include: How do ordinary people distinguish between problematic stereotype use and acceptable group-based generalizations? How can formal modelling (e.g., Bayesian models) help us identify biases in people’s impressions of others?

My lab plans to continue work in the domains of explanation and social cognition. 

I am also interested in extending this work into the domain of emotions, using cognitive and computational approaches to answer questions like: What does it mean to resolve an emotion? What role does ‘understanding’ play in this process (e.g., understanding what caused the emotion)? What are the underlying computations involved? Why do people sometimes get ‘stuck’ in emotions?

If you are interested in working in my lab, either as an undergraduate research assistant or as a graduate student, please reach out to me at

For more information, see my website: