Dr. Bill Merriman

William E. Merriman

Department of Psychology
Office Location:
Room 201  Kent Hall
Contact Information
Personal Website:


Research Area:

Does Dr. Merriman plan to recruit a doctoral student for the next incoming class?

Research Interests:

My research focuses on children’s language, memory, and thought, with an emphasis on word learning and metacognition in early childhood. Some current lines of research concern:

  • Awareness of Gaps in Linguistic Knowledge -- What procedure does a young child use to decide that some word is unknown, that some object cannot be named, or that some utterance cannot be interpreted clearly? How is the accuracy of these decisions related to the efficiency of various cognitive processes?
  • Overconfidence in Memory – Why do young children make such unrealistically optimistic predictions about their memory performance? Why do they become less optimistic as they get older?
  • Word Learning– How do children infer the category that a word denotes from observations of how the word is used (and not used).

Courses Frequently Taught:

  • Quantitative Methods in Psychology I (undergraduate)
  • Child Psychology (undergraduate)
  • Cognitive Development (graduate)


  • Wall, J. L., & Merriman, W. E. (2020). The pragmatics of discovery constrains children’s tendency to map novel labels onto novel objects. First Language. Full Text

  • Hartin, T. L*., & Merriman, W. E. (2019). Grouping affects children’s interpretation of a label for an animal, but not for an artifact. First Language, 39(5), 571-590. Full Text

  • Henning, K. J.*, & Merriman, W. E. (2019). The disambiguation prediction effect. Journal of Cognition & Development, 20. 334-353. Full Text

  • Lipko-Speed, A. R., Buchert, S., & Merriman, W. E. (2018). Observing an adult model can cause immediate improvement in preschoolers’ knowledge judgments. Cognitive Development, 48, 225-234. Full Text

  • Scofield, J., Merriman, W. E., & Wall, J. L.* (2018). The effect of a tactile-to-visual shift on young children’s tendency to map novel labels onto novel objects. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 172, 1–12. Full Text

  • Slocum, J. Y*., & Merriman, W. E. (2018). The metacognitive disambiguation effect. Journal of Cognition & Development, 19, 87-106. Full Text

  • Wall, J. L*., Thompson, C., Dunlosky, J., & Merriman, W. E. (2016). Children can accurately monitor and control their number-line estimation performance. Developmental Psychology, 52, 1493-1502. Full Text

  • *Hartin, T.L., & Merriman, W. E. (2016). Children's interpretation of a label for an individuated object: Dependence on age and ontological kind. First Language, 36, 428-447. Full Text

  • *Hartin, T. L., *Stevenson, C. M., & Merriman, W. E. (2016). Pre-exposure to objects that contrast in familiarity improves young children's lexical knowledge judgment. Language Learning & Development, 12, 311-327. Full Text

  • *Wall, J. L., Merriman, W. E., & Scofield, J. (2015). Young children's disambiguation across the senses. Cognitive Development, 35, 163-177. Full Text

  • Merriman, W. E. (2014). Lexical Development. In P. Brooks, V. Kempe, & J.G. Golson (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Language Development. SAGE: New York. Full Text

  • *Lipowski, S. L., Merriman, W. E., & Dunlosky, J. (2013). Preschoolers can make highly accurate judgments of learning. Developmental Psychology, 49(8), 1505-1516. Full Text

  • *Lipowski, S. L., & Merriman, W. E. (2011). Knowledge judgments and object memory processes in early childhood: Support for the dual criterion account of object nameability judgment. Journal of Cognition & Development, 12, 481-501.

  • *Marazita, J. M., & Merriman, W. E. (2011). Verifying one's knowledge of a name without retrieving it: A U-shaped relation to vocabulary size in early childhood. Language Learning & Development, 7(1), 40-54.

  • Merriman, W. E., & *Lipko, A. R. (2008). A dual criterion account of the development of linguistic judgment in early childhood. Journal of Memory and Language, 58(4), 1012-1031. Full Text


Ph.D., University of Minnesota (1984)


Cognitive, Developmental, Language Development, Children's Word Learning, Metacognition, Children's Learning