Walter Kintsch, PhD


Walter Kintsch, PhD

In Memory Of… Walter Kintsch

Honoring scientists who have made important and lasting contributions to the sciences of mind, brain, and behavior.

Walter Kintsch, PhD (1932-2023)
Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Psychology
University of Colorado at Boulder


Walter Kintsch grew up in Austria and received his doctoral degree from the University of Kansas in 1960. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Indiana University, he held faculty positions at the University of Missouri (Columbia), University of California (Riverside), and Stanford University, before settling with his wife and lifelong colleague, Eileen Kintsch, at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1968. Walter’s 50 years of research focused on issues surrounding text comprehension, knowledge acquisition, and mathematical models of cognitive mechanisms. The interdisciplinary scope of his research had a tremendous impact on cognitive science, discourse processes, psycholinguistics, and education.

Walter Kintsch wrote several landmark books and articles in Psychological Review that shaped the direction of fields. The representation of meaning in memory (Kintsch, 1974) highlighted the semantic structure of language and challenged simple associationist views of memory and comprehension. Kintsch and van Dijk (1978) provided the first psychological process theory of discourse comprehension, and his Construction-Integration (CI) model (Kintsch, 1988, 1998) is currently the dominant psychological model of text comprehension. His book Comprehension: A Paradigm for Cognition (1998) articulates the CI model and reviews how the model explains a wide range of phenomena, including reading comprehension, comprehension of arithmetic story problems, planning and performance on routine computing tasks, and retrieval structures in expert memory.

Walter Kintsch’s influence on the field of Cognitive Science extended beyond his own work. He served as the director of the University of Colorado Institute of Cognitive Science (1983- 2004), an interdisciplinary center drawing in faculty from psychology, computer science, linguistics, education, environmental studies, and business. He served on the Cognitive Science Society Governing Board from 1979-1985 and 1988-1996, and as Chair in 1984. Walter was the editor of Psychological Review from 1988-1994. He was a Fellow of the Cognitive Science Society (2004), a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, (1977), a member of the National Academy of Education (1992), and a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (1981 – 1982). He was recognized with the MERIT Award from the National Institutes of Mental Health (1987), the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of APA (1992), a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Psychologie (2002), and the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of the Society for Text & Discourse (2008), and the Distinguished Scholar Lifetime Achievement Award of the National Reading Conference (2009).


Individuals Honoring Walter Kintsch:

Richard C. Anderson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Kirsten R. Butcher, University of Utah
Donna J. Caccamise, University of Colorado
Simon J. Dennis, Ohio State University
John Dunlosky, Kent State University
Gerhard Fischer, University of Colorado at Boulder
Peter W. Foltz
Morton Ann Gernsbacher, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Richard J. Gerrig, Stony Brook University
Arthur Glenberg, Arizona State University
Susan Goldman
* Arthur Graesser, University of Memphis
Mina Johnson-Glenberg, Arizona State University
Alice F. Healy, University of Colorado at Boulder
Michael Jones, Indiana University
R. Brooke Lea, Macalester College
Robert Levin
Debra L. Long, University of California, Davis
Juan Antonio Garcia Madruga, Universidad Nacional De Educacion A Distancia
Michael E. Masson, University of Victoria
* Danielle S. McNamara, University of Memphis
James R. Miller, Miramontes Computing
Keith Millis, Northern Illinois University
Yasunori Morishima
Elizabeth J. Mulligan
Jerome L. Myers, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Edward J. O’Brien, University of New Hampshire
Vimla L. Patel, University of Texas
Martha C. Polson
Jose Quesada, Max Planck Institute for Human Development
Katherine Rawson, Kent State University
Ladislao Salmeron Gonzalez, University of Valencia
Maureen E. Schreiner
Franz Schmalhofer, University of Osnabrueck
Murray Singer, University of Manitoba
Teun A. van Dijk, Pompeu Fabra University
Douglas Vipond, St. Thomas University
James F. Voss, University of Pittsburgh
David J. Wade-Stein
Charles A. Weaver III, Baylor University
Michael B. Wolfe, Grand Valley State University
Susan T. Zimny, Indiana University of Pennslyvania

* The FABBS Foundation would like to thank Dr. Arthur Graesser and Dr. Danielle S. McNamara for nominating Dr. Kintsch for this honor and for leading the effort to spread the word about his nomination.


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