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Theory of mind in children and adults

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  • Full or part time
    Dr I A Apperly
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Awaiting Funding Decision/Possible External Funding
    Awaiting Funding Decision/Possible External Funding

Project Description

"Theory of mind" is the ability to reason about what other people think, know, intend and desire. There are significant developments in these abilities between the ages of 2 and 7 years, and recent work has also found precocious abilities in young infants. In comparison, the abilities of older children and adults are poorly understood, even though there clearly are changes in everyday social reasoning abilities beyond the age of 7. PhD projects in this area will develop methods suitable for testing theory of mind reasoning in older children and/or adults, with potential for extending these behavioural methods by using them in combination with eye tracking or recordings of Event Related Potentials (ERP/EEG).

More information about the work going on in this lab can be found here:



Funding Notes

Self-funded students may wish to apply.

There are a number of currently open competitive studentship schemes at the University of Birmingham, and students are welcome to discuss their eligibility for these with the supervisor or the PG Admissions Tutor.


Apperly, I.A. & Butterfill, S.A, (2009). Do humans have two systems to track beliefs and belief-like states? Psychological Review, 116(4), 953-970.
Apperly, I.A., Samson, D., & Humphreys, G.W. (2009). Studies of adults can inform accounts of theory of mind development. Developmental Psychology, 45(1), 190-201.

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 40.80

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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