Institute of Chil
d Study
University of Toronto




JANET WILDE ASTINGTON is Professor at the Institute of Child Study, Department of Human Development and Applied Psychology, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, where she has held a faculty position since 1990. She recently completed a five-year term as Chair of the Department of Human Development and Applied Psychology (2002-2007).


Astington obtained a Ph.D. in Applied Cognitive Science, University of Toronto (OISE) in 1985, after which she played an important role in the development of the field of children’s theories of mind. She is author of The Child’s Discovery of the Mind (Harvard University Press, 1993), which is published in French, German, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean translations. Recently she co-edited Why Language Matters for Theory of Mind (Oxford University Press, 2005). She is also co-editor of Developing Theories of Mind (Cambridge University Press, 1988) and Developing Theories of Intention (Erlbaum, 1999), editor of Minds in the Making (Blackwell, 2000), and a former Editor of the journal Cognitive Development.


Astington was awarded the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International Educator’s Award for The Child’s Discovery of the Mind (in 1994), the American Educational Research Association’s Raymond B. Cattell Early Career Award for Programmatic Research (in 1995), and a University of Toronto Connaught Research Fellowship (in 2001). She has held research grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada continuously since 1988.

Astington’s research interest is in children’s developing understanding of the social world. This includes their understanding of people’s mental world (i.e., beliefs, desires, emotions, intentions) as well as their understanding of social roles and rules (i.e., obligations, permissions, and prohibitions). Her approach is sociocultural, with a particular focus on the role of language in the development of social cognition.


Astington’s applied interest is in helping student teachers to use the research on children’s theory of mind in order to develop materials and approaches that engage children in mindful learning.


Janet Wilde Astington, Professor
Institute of Child Study
University of Toronto
45 Walmer Road
Toronto, Canada M5R 2X2

phone: (416) 934-4555
fax: (416) 934-4500

Click here for Janet Astington's representative publications