Don Hayes in 1976

Donald P. Hayes


Professor Emeritus

B.A. Pomona

Ph.D. 1959 University of Washington

Donald P. Hayes

Professor Emeritus

Areas of Interest

Donald P. Hayes (1927-2006) was a professor in the Cornell Sociology Department for most of his career, starting in 1963. His web page is preserved here in order to retain the historical information it contains, as well as links to downloadable databases and research papers.


As in the case of grammar, the constraints on our perceptions of self, of others, and of events are largely inaccessible - outside our consciousness. In natural texts (speech, books, and magazines), powerful statistical regularities constrain our word usage. My earlier research established a lognormal model for those regularities; variations in speech and writing from the lognormal pattern were measured by newly developed software (QLEX), and a 5000 text corpus was developed to interpret the meaning of those variations. My current research capitalizes on this earlier research to test: (a) several rival models for the course taken by pre-school children during their convergence on to adult-like speech (their lexical development) - as revealed in their speech in the home; (b) the link between the "dumbing down" of schoolbooks by publishers after World War II and the wholly unexpected and subsequent decline in US SAT verbal achievement scores beginning abruptly in 1963 and continuing to the present; (c)what causes American students to avoid high school science courses (now, 1 in 3); and (d) a dynamic biological model for competition for subscribers in the science/technology publishing industry - predictions based on the magazine's general accessibility (its 'lexical niche').


Selected References:

Hayes, D. P. 2001. "A Scientific Replacement for Flesch's Measure of Text 'Readability.'" 2001 Annual Meeting of the AAAS, San Francisco.

Hayes, D. P. 2000. "LEX: A Scientific Measure of a Text's Accessibility." 5th International Conference on Social Science Methodology. Univ. of Koln, Koln, Germany, October 3-6, 2000.

Hayes, D. P. and Wolfer, L. T. 2000. "The Decline in Verbal Achievement: Its Impact on Science and the Labor Force." 2000 Annual Meeting of the AAAS, Washington, D. C.

Hayes, D. P. 2000. The Cornell Corpus - a CD Containing the Texts of over 5000 Texts; the LEX Statistical Measurement on 55 Sub-Categories; and Associated Manuscripts.

Donald P. Hayes, "Gene-Environment Correlations: Three Independent Estimates for their Strength in Children's Natural Language Experiences." American Sociological Review.(1998)

Donald P. Hayes, "Adapting Texts for their Audience" Social Psychology Quarterly. (1998)

Hayes, D. P., Wolfer, L. T. and Wolfe, M. F. 1996. "Schoolbook Simplification and its Relation to the Decline in SAT-verbal Scores." American Educational Research Journal 33 (2): 498-508.

Hayes, D. P. 1992. "The Growing Inaccessibility of Science." Nature 356: 739-740.

Hayes, D. P. and Ahrens, M. G. 1988. "Vocabulary Simplification for Children: A Case of 'Motherese.'" Journal of Child Language 15: 395-410.

Hayes, D. P. 1988. "Speaking and Writing: Distinct Patterns of Word Usage." Journal of Memory and Language 37: 575-585.


Lexical Analysis: the Cornell Corpus

Lexical Analysis: Schoobooks

Downloadable Papers