David C. Geary

David Cyril Geary (born June 7, 1957, in Providence, Rhode Island) is an American cognitive developmental and evolutionary psychologist with interests in mathematical learning and sex differences. He is currently a Curators’ Professor and Thomas Jefferson Fellow in the Department of Psychological Sciences and Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Program at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri.


Geary received a BS degree in psychology from Santa Clara University (California) in 1979, and an MS from the clinical child/school psychology program at California State University at Hayward (now East Bay) in 1981. After completing the MS degree, he worked for the emergency treatment center of the Mental Research Institute[1] in Palo Alto, California, and began the Ph.D. program at the University of California, Riverside, in 1982. His initial interests were in hemispheric laterality and associated sex differences, but focused his dissertation work on mathematical cognition under the direction of Keith Widaman (now at UC, Davis).


After completing his Ph.D. in developmental psychology in 1986, Geary took a one-year position at the University of Texas at El Paso and then moved to the University of Missouri, first at the Rolla campus (1987–1989) and then in Columbia. During this time, he served as chair of the Department of Psychological Sciences (2002–2005) and contributed heavily to the creation of the Ph.D. program in developmental psychology.[2]


Geary's wide-ranging interests are reflected in invited addresses in a variety of departments (anthropology, biology, behavior genetics, computer science, education, government, mathematics, neuroscience, physics, and psychology) and Universities throughout the United States, as well as in Canada, Europe, and East Asia.

Geary's research on mathematics learning, evolutionary psychology, and sex differences has been featured in many popular press outlets, including Discover,[3] Education Week,[4] Forbes,[5] CBS News,[6] and MSNBC[7] among many others.

Geary's research on children's mathematical development resulted in a MERIT award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In 2005, the University of Missouri awarded Geary a Curators’ Professorship,[8] and the Thomas Jefferson Professorship in 2009.[9] Among other distinctions, he is 2009 co-recipient of the George A. Miller Award for an Outstanding Recent Article on General Psychology for the 2007 Psychological Science in the Public Interest monograph on sex differences in mathematics and science,[10] co-authored with Halpern, Benbow, Gur, Hyde, and Gernsbacher.[11] He is a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science (2005) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2011).

Geary's research interests are centered on his four books, Children's mathematical development (1994), Male, female (1998, 2010, second edition), Origin of mind (2005), and Evolution of vulnerability (2015); the latter was discussed in an interview with the Guardian.[12] He is also co-author of the 2008 Sex differences: Summarizing more than a century of scientific research, and co-editor with Drs. Berch and Mann Koepke of a five-volume series on mathematical cognition and learning.

His research on mathematical development ranged from mathematical modeling of adults’ processing of arithmetic problems;[13] the effects of aging on these processes;[14] and cross national and cross generational differences in mathematical abilities.[15] In this area, he is best known for his research on learning difficulties in mathematics and in 1993 published a theoretical and review article that outlined subtypes of disabilities and helped to organize subsequent research in this area.[16] He currently directs the Missouri Longitudinal Study of Mathematical Learning and Disability.[17]

Geary's research in evolutionary psychology also ranges across a variety of issues, from evolution of the hominid brain[18] to men's hormonal responses while competing against members of their in-group or against an out-group.[19] He has also written extensively on human paternal investment (fatherhood) and the evolution of the human family,[20][21] and is one of the pioneers in evolutionary developmental psychology and evolutionary educational psychology.

His collaborators include former students, Drew H. Bailey[22] and Benjamin Winegard[23] with research focused in social signaling, among other topics.

Public service

Geary contributed to the 1998 Mathematics Framework for California Public Schools[24] and in 2006 was appointed to the President's National Mathematics Advisory Panel. While serving on the panel, he chaired the learning processes task group.[25] In 2007, he was appointed by President George W. Bush to the National Board of Directors, Institute of Education Sciences (IES), and served through 2010.[26] He is also co-author of Developing effective fractions instruction for kindergarten through 8th grade: A practice guide[27] and an on-line overview of learning disabilities in mathematics for parents and teachers.[28]

Personal life

Geary is married to Yin Xia, an applied economist. He also has a son named Mick Licken.

Selected works

Geary has authored or co-authored and published over 200 articles in academic journals.[29][30] His h-index according to Google Scholar is 54.[31]




  1. ^ [1] Archived June 24, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "David C. Geary | Psychological Sciences". Psychology.missouri.edu. Archived from the original on 2015-11-19. Retrieved 2015-10-17.
  3. ^ "If Modern Humans Are So Smart, Why Are Our Brains Shrinking?". DiscoverMagazine.com. 2011-01-20. Retrieved 2015-10-17.
  4. ^ "Q&A: Researcher Analyzes Math Skills of Chinese, American Pupils". Education Week. Edweek.org. 1991-11-20. Retrieved 2015-10-17.
  5. ^ "Sexism at Harvard". Forbes. 2005-02-28. Retrieved 2015-10-17.
  6. ^ "Stiffer Competition, Bigger Brain?". CBS News. 2009-06-24. Retrieved 2015-10-17.
  7. ^ "Why is human brain so big? Maybe competition - Technology & science - Science - LiveScience | NBC News". NBC News. 2009-07-13. Retrieved 2015-10-17.
  8. ^ [2] Archived May 30, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Previous Thomas Jefferson Award Recipients | Academic Affairs | University of Missouri System". Umsystem.edu. Retrieved 2015-10-17.
  10. ^ "PSPI Article Wins Miller Award". psychologicalscience.org. 22 (8). October 2009. Retrieved October 17, 2015.
  11. ^ Halpern, Diane F.; Benbow, Camilla P.; Geary, David C.; Gur, Ruben C.; Hyde, Janet Shibley; Gernsbacher, Morton Ann (2007). "The Science of Sex Differences in Science and Mathematics" (PDF). Psychological Science in the Public Interest. 8 (1): 1–51. doi:10.1111/j.1529-1006.2007.00032.x. ISSN 1529-1006. PMC 4270278. PMID 25530726.
  12. ^ Carole Jahme (2015-04-09). "Sex differences and vulnerability: how the male-female divide affects health | Science". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-10-17.
  13. ^ Geary, David C.; Widaman, Keith F. (1987). "Individual differences in cognitive arithmetic". Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. 116 (2): 154–171. CiteSeerX doi:10.1037/0096-3445.116.2.154. ISSN 1939-2222. PMID 2955071.
  14. ^ Geary, David C.; Wiley, Judith G. (1991). "Cognitive addition: Strategy choice and speed-of-processing differences in young and elderly adults". Psychology and Aging. 6 (3): 474–483. doi:10.1037/0882-7974.6.3.474. ISSN 1939-1498.
  15. ^ Geary, David C.; Hamson, Carmen O.; Chen, Guo-peng; Liu, Fan; Hoard, Mary K.; Salthouse, Timothy A. (1997). "Computational and reasoning abilities in arithmetic: Cross-generational change in China and the United States". Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. 4 (3): 425–430. doi:10.3758/BF03210805. ISSN 1069-9384.
  16. ^ Geary, David C. (1993). "Mathematical disabilities: Cognitive, neuropsychological, and genetic components". Psychological Bulletin. 114 (2): 345–362. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.114.2.345. ISSN 0033-2909. PMID 8416036.
  17. ^ "MU Math Study - Psychological Sciences - University of Missouri". Mumathstudy.missouri.edu. Retrieved 2015-10-17.
  18. ^ Bailey, Drew H.; Geary, David C. (2009). "Hominid Brain Evolution". Human Nature. 20 (1): 67–79. doi:10.1007/s12110-008-9054-0. ISSN 1045-6767. S2CID 83861144.
  19. ^ Oxford, Jonathan; Ponzi, Davidé; Geary, David C. (2010). "Hormonal responses differ when playing violent video games against an ingroup and outgroup". Evolution and Human Behavior. 31 (3): 201–209. doi:10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2009.07.002. ISSN 1090-5138.
  20. ^ Geary, David C. (2000). "Evolution and proximate expression of human paternal investment". Psychological Bulletin. 126 (1): 55–77. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.126.1.55. ISSN 0033-2909. PMID 10668350.
  21. ^ Geary, David C.; Flinn, Mark V. (2001). "Evolution of Human Parental Behavior and the Human Family". Parenting. 1 (1–2): 5–61. CiteSeerX doi:10.1080/15295192.2001.9681209. ISSN 1529-5192. S2CID 15440367.
  22. ^ [3] Archived June 9, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ "Benjamin Winegard | Psychological Sciences". Psychology.missouri.edu. 2012-06-21. Archived from the original on 2015-09-10. Retrieved 2015-10-17.
  24. ^ "Curriculum Frameworks - Mathematics (CA Dept of Education)". Cde.ca.gov. Retrieved 2015-10-17.
  25. ^ "Archived: National Mathematics Advisory Panel". .ed.gov. Retrieved 2015-10-17.
  26. ^ "National Board for Education Sciences: Board Members". Ies.ed.gov. 2014-01-31. Retrieved 2015-10-17.
  27. ^ "Publications & Products: What Works Clearinghouse". Ies.ed.gov. Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2015-10-17.
  28. ^ "Mathematical Disabilities: What We Know and Don't Know | LD Topics". LD OnLine. Retrieved 2015-10-17.
  29. ^ "Curriculum vitae: David C. Geary" (PDF). faculty.missouri.edu. University of Missouri-Columbia. August 2015. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
  30. ^ "David C. Geary: Publications". faculty.missouri.edu. University of Missouri-Columbia. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
  31. ^ "Google Scholar Citations: David C. Geary". scholar.google.com. Retrieved 17 October 2015.