Pim Levelt


For a full list of publications, see my Publications page.



A history of psycholinguistics: The pre-Chomskyan era
(Oxford UP, 2014)


Formal Grammars in Linguistics and Psycholinguistics
(Benjamins, 2008)


An Introduction to the Theory of Formal Languages and Automata
(Benjamins, 2008)


Speaking: From intention to articulation
(MIT Press, 1989)


On binocular rivalry
(IZF, Soesterberg, 1965)

see also:
Brascamp, J., Klink, P., with a contribution from Levelt, W.J.M. (2015). The ‘laws’ of binocular rivalry: 50 years of Levelt’s propositions. Vision Research, 109, 20-37. (pdf)

Curriculum vitae


Born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, May 17, 1938.
Married to Elisabeth, C.M. Jacobs, musician and visual artist, since June 1963.
Three children: Claartje, Philip, Christiaan.

Academic Education

Study of psychology at  Leiden University "Candidate degree" (cum laude),1958.
Five month experimental work under Albert Michotte's supervision at Louvain University, 1958-1959. "Doctorandus" degree in experimental psychology (cum laude) 1962.
Ph.D. at Leiden University (cum laude) 1965. Title of thesis: "On binocular rivalry". Supervisor: John P. van de Geer.

Professional positions and activities

1962-1965: Staff member of the Institute for Perception, Soesterberg. Research on binocular interaction, music perception, pattern recognition, mathematical psychology.

1965-1966: Research Fellow at the Center for Cognitive Studies, Harvard University (directors: George Miller and Jerome Bruner). Research in psycholinguistics.

1966-1967: Visiting Asst. Professor, University of Illinois, Center for Comparative Psycholinguistics. (director: Charles Osgood).

1967-1968: Associate Professor of Experimental Psychology, Groningen University. Since 1968 Director of the Institute of General Psychology. Research in psycholinguistics, psychophysics, and mathematical psychology.

1967-1970: Visiting Professor of Psycholinguistics, Louvain University.

1969-1970: Full Professor of Experimental Psychology and of Psycholinguistics, Groningen University.

1971-1972: Member of the Institute of Advanced Study, Princeton. Producing 3-volume book om Formal Grammars.

1971-1979: Full Professor of Experimental Psychology, Nijmegen University. Research in psycholinguistics and psychophysics.

1976-1979: Leader of the newly established Project Group for Psycholinguistics of the Max Planck Society, established in Nijmegen - The Netherlands.

1980: Visiting scholar Stanford University.

1980- 2006: Founding Director of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen - The Netherlands.

1980- 2006: Professor of Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen University (special Max Planck Society chair).

2002 - 2005: President of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW).

2011 - 2012: Chair of Tilburg University's Investigation Committee into Diederick Stapel's scientific fraud.

Ph.D. thesis supervisions

58 dissertations since 1972

  1. F. Loosen (Levelt) Cognitieve organisatie van zinnen in het geheugen (Sept.1972)
  2. P.G.M.M. Vos (Levelt) Waarneming van metrische toonreeksen (Nov. 1973)
  3. H.W. Campbell (Levelt) Phoneme recognition by ear and eye (Febr. 1974)        
  4. G.P. van Galen (Levelt) Ambient versus focal information processing. An single-channelness (April 1974)
  5. G.J.J. Calis (Levelt/ Frijda) Op het eerste gezicht (June1974)
  6. H.H.J. Kolk (Levelt) Experiments in forgetting (Dec.1974)
  7. D.J.L. Povel (Levelt) Articulation correction of the deaf by means acoustic information visually displayed (Dec.1974)
  8. Ch. de Weert (Levelt) Binocular brightness and color combinations. An experimental study (June 1976)                               
  9. F.L. Engel (Schouten/ Levelt) Visual conspicuity as an external determinant of eye movements and selective attention (Dec. 1976)
  10. C. Schiepers (Levelt/ Boum) Global attributes in visual word recognition (Dec.1976)          
  11. L. Noordman (Levelt/ Michon) Inferring from language (Dec.1977)         
  12. W. Noordman-Vonk (Levelt/ Michon) Retrieval from semantic memory (Dec. 1977)
  13. M. Ulijn (Velema/ Zwanenburg/ Levelt) Frans als vreemde taal (April 1978)
  14. R. Schreuder (Levelt) Studies in psycholexicology with special reference to verbs of motion (June 1978)
  15. G. Extra (Kraak/ Levelt/ v.Els) Nederlands van buitenlanders (June 1978)
  16. H. v. Tuijl (Levelt/ Leeuwenberg) Perceptual interpretation of line patterns (May 1979)                                   
  17. D.G. Bouwhuis (Levelt/ Bouma) Visual recognition of words (June 1979)
  18. Th.A.M. Crul (Levelt/ Brinkma/ Marshall) Auditory training of the voicing distinction (March 1980)
  19. H.F.J. Buffart (Levelt) A theory of Cyclopean perception (Jan.1982)
  20. F.A.J. Boselie (Levelt/ Leeuwenberg) Over visuele schoonheidservaring (March 1982)          
  21. K. Böhme (Levelt) Children's understanding and awareness of German possessive pronouns (March 1983)
  22. E.D.J. Schils (Levelt/ Johannesma) Cohesion in the sentence. Its use in evaluating grammars (April 1983)
  23. H.v. Jaarsveld (Levelt) On reading handwriting (June 1983)
  24. P. Jordens (v.Els/ Levelt/ Stoks) Das deutsche Kasussystem im Fremdsprachenerwerb (Sept. 1983)
  25. H.J. Schriefers (Levelt) On semantic markedness in language production and verification (May 1985)
  26. B. Maassen (Levelt/ Povel) Artificial corrections to deaf speech. Studies in intelligibility (June 1985)
  27. A.S. Meyer (Levelt) Phonological encoding in language production. A priming study (Sept.1988)
  28. L. Elbers (Levelt) The cognitive effort of developing a first language (Febr. 1989)
  29. C. Zwitserlood (Levelt) Words and sentences: The effects of sentential semantic context on spoken word processing (April 1990)
  30. F. Wijnen (Levelt/ Elbers) On the development of language production mechanisms (June 1990)
  31. P. Hagoort (Levelt) Tracking the time course of language understanding in aphasia (Nov. 1990)
  32. C.M. Brown (Levelt/ Bongaerts/ Poulisse) Spoken-word processing in context  (Nov. 1990)
  33. P. Praamstra (Levelt / Notermans/ Stegeman) Central auditory function and auditory language processing (Nov.1992)
  34. A. Roelofs (Levelt/ Kempen) Lemma retrieval in speaking (April 1992)
  35. H.J. Haarmann (Levelt/ Kolk) Agrammatic aphasia as a timing deficit (Jan.1993)
  36. L. Blomert (Levelt/ Willmes)  Assesment and recovery of verbal communication in aphasia (Sept.1994)
  37. J. Jescheniak (Levelt) Word frequency effects in speech production (Sept.1994)
  38. P.J.A. Meijer (Levelt/ Meyer)  Phonological encoding: The role of supra- segmental structures (Dec.1994)
  39. U. Brinkmann (Levelt) The locative alternation. Its structure and acquisition (April 1995)                                                        
  40. L.T.M. Hoeks (Levelt/ Gielen) The pupillary response as a measure of mental processing load (Sept. 1995)
  41. M. Baumann (Levelt/ Meyer) The production of syllables in connected speech (Febr. 1996)
  42. J.J.A.van Berkum (Levelt/ Frauenfelder) The psycholingusitic of grammatical gender (March 1996)
  43. T.Y. Swaab (Levelt/ Hagoort/ Brown) Mental processing load. The functional locus of comprehension deficits in aphasia: An electrophysiological approach (June 1996)
  44. E.v. Hest (Levelt) Self-repair in L1 and L2 production ( Nov. 1996)
  45. L. Schlichting (Levelt) Discovering syntax. An empirical study in Dutch language acquisition (Dec.1996)
  46. M.v. Turennout (Levelt/ Hagoort) The electrophysiology of speaking. Investigations on the time course of semantic, syntactic and phonological processing (Nov. 1997)
  47. N. Schiller (Levelt/ Meyer) The role of the syllable in speech production. Evidence from lexical statistics, metalinguistics masked priming and electromagnetic midsagital articulography (Nov. 1997)
  48. B. Schmitt (Levelt) Lexical access in the production of ellipses and pronouns  (Dec.1997)
  49. P. Groenen (Levelt/ Maassen/ Crul)  Central auditory processing disorders. A psycholinguistic approach (Dec.1997)
  50. K. Behnke (Herrmann/ Levelt/ Veelenturf) The acquisition of phonetic categories in young infants: A self-organizing artificial neutral network approach (Febr.1998)
  51. J.P. de Ruiter (Levelt) Gesture and speech production (Febr. 1998)
  52. D. Janssen  (Levelt/ Roelofs) Producing past and plural inflections (Nov. 1999)
  53. F. v.d. Meulen (Levelt/ Meyer) Moving eyes and naming objects (Sept. 2001)
  54. S. Sprenger (Levelt/ Kempen) Fixed expressions and the production of idioms (June 2003)           
  55. J. Cholin (Levelt/ Schiller) Syllables in speech production (June 2004)                          
  56. M. Meeuwissen (Levelt/ Roelofs) Producing complex spoken numerals for time and space (July 2004)                                               
  57. R. Özdemir-Gross (Levelt/ Roelofs)The relationship between spoken word production and comprehension (June  2006)
  58. H. Bien (Levelt/ Baayen) On the production of morphologically complex  words with special attention to effects of frequency (Nov. 2007)

Editorial activities

Has been or still is editor, editorial board member or editorial consultant of the following journals:

  • Psychological Research (Psychologische Forschung)
  • Cognition, International Journal of Cognitive Studies
  • Journal of Psycholinguistic Research
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Italian Journal of Psychology
  • Nederlands Tijdschrift voor de Psychologie
  • Perception & Psychophysics
  • Interdisciplinair Tijdschrift voor Taal- en Tekstwetenschap
  • The Linguistic Review
  • Language and Cognitive Processes
  • Mind and Language
  • Journal of Semantics (-1986)
  • International Journal of Sign Language
  • Spatial Cognition and Computation
  • Editor of the Springer Series in Language and Communication. (1978-1990)
  • Language Sektion Editor of The new cognitive neurosciences, M.S. Gazzaniga (ed.). MIT Press, 2000.

Academy memberships

  • Member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences
  • Member of the Holland Society of Sciences
  • Member of the Academia Europaea
  • Member of the Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina
  • Member of the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Sciences and Arts
  • Member of the Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften
  • Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences (USA)
  • Member of the Österreichische  Akademie der Wissenschaften
  • Honorary Member of  the World Innovation Foundation (WIF)
  • Member of the American Philosophical Society

Awards and honors

  • Recipient Radboud Stichting award for junior scientists (1968)
  • Recipient Hendrik Muller award for the Social and Behavioral Sciences of the Royal  Dutch Academy of Sciences (1993)
  • Recipient of the Heymans award of the Dutch Psychology Association (NIP) (1996)
  • Honorary member of the Linguistic Society of America (1998)
  • Knighthood in the Orde van de Nederlandse Leeuw (1998)
  • Doctorate honoris causa, Maastricht University (2000)
  • Doctorate honoris causa, University of Antwerp (2003)
  • Recipient Silver Medal, Nijmegen University (2004)
  • Doctorate honoris causa, University of Padua (2004)
  • Doctorate honoris causa, Catholic University of Louvain (2005)
  • Recipient Medal of Honour, Netherlands Psychonomic Society (2006)
  • Honorary member of the Young Academy, Royal Netherlands Academie of Arts and Sciences (2006)
  • Fellow of the Cognitive Science Society (2007)
  • Member of the German Orden pour le mérite für Wissenschaften und Künste (2010)
  • Grosses Bundesverdienstkreuz mit Stern of the Federal Republic of Germany (2012)
  • American Philosophical Society's Patrick Suppes Prize in the History of Science (2013)


Fugue on Speaking

A Tribute to Speaking




Herbert Clark


Edward Clark, Anne Clark, Ryan Clark


Tom Clark


J. S. Bach


Robert Clark

Consultants, kibitzers

Eve Clark, George Clark, Jane Clark, Julia Clark, Margaret Clark, Kenneth Coutts, Josephine Gandolfi, Jim Joyner, Monique Clark, Molly Clark, Kenneth Clark, Lynn Clark, Julia Clark Steiner, Jeff Steiner



Subject and counter-subject of the fugue


There’s a book we seek
that’s a work unique;
it’s about techniques we use
when we speak


The book is all about
the words we choose
and sounds we use
as vocal cues
in speech




Levelt, W. J. M. (2020). On becoming a physicist of mind. Annual Review of Linguistics, 6(1), 1-23. doi:10.1146/annurev-linguistics-011619-030256. [pdf]

Podcast with Stephen Wilson
Wilson, Stephen M. (host). (2021, June 22). The history of the neuroscience of language: 1820-1922, with Willem “Pim” Levelt (Episode 11) In: The Language Neuroscience Podcast. https://langneurosci.org/podcast/

Pim Levelt speaks - interview by Stephen C. Levinson

Interview met Archief en Documentatiecentrum van de Nederlandse Psychologie
Click on the image below to view an interview with Pim Levelt, hosted on YouTube:


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