Carnegie Mellon University

John Hayes

John Hayes

Professor Emeritus, Psychology


Writing is a complex activity which draws on the writer's linguistic, social, and problem solving skills. My research explores all of these aspects of writing processes through a combination of methodologies, including thinking aloud protocols, expert-novice comparisons, experimental studies of comprehension and perception, and naturalistic observation. One line of research has been directed at the development and testing of a model of the cognitive processes involved in writing. This research has led to increased understanding of such topics as: What is the nature of planning in writing? How are sentences composed? What processes are involved in revision? Why do people experience difficulty in writing clearly about topics on which they are expert? A second line of research concerns the way in which writing assignments are carried out in natural or non-laboratory-settings. This line of research has led to increased understanding of differences in the way experts and novices approach school writing tasks and to increased understanding of how a teacher's teaching methods influence student effort in writing.

I am also conducting a third line of research on the role of knowledge in creative activities. This research has revealed that even the most talented creators such as Mozart and Picasso required years of preparation in their fields before they began to produce high quality work.


Hayes, J.R. (1985). Three problems in teaching general skills. In S.F. Chipman, J.W. Segal & R. Glaser (Eds.), Thinking and Learning Skills: Research and Open Questions, 2, 391-406. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Hayes, J.R. (1996). A new model of cognition and affect in writing. In M. Levy & S. Ransdell (Eds.), The Science of Writing. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Wallace, D. L., Hayes, J.R., Hatch, J.A., Miller, W., Moser, G. & Murphy, C. Better revision in eight minutes? Cueing first-year college writers in review. Submitted to Journal of Educational Psychology. quality work.