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Janet Astington

Professor Emerita

Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study


Website: fcis.oise.utoronto.ca/~jwastington



  • Children's theory of mind
  • Cgnitive development
  • Langauge development
  • Metalinguistics
  • Early childhood/kindergarten education
  • Sociocultural context of development

Janet Astington

Research Interests

My 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). My approach is socio-cultural, with a particular focus on the role of language in the development of social cognition.


Representative Publications

Work in Progress:

Astington, J. W. & Hughes, C. Theory of mind: Self-reflection and social understanding. Chapter to be published in Oxford Handbook of Developmental Psychology, P. D. Zelazo (Ed.)

Dack, L. A. & Astington, J. W. Deontic and epistemic reasoning in young children and adults: Revisiting the deontic advantage. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Filippova, E. & Astington, J.W. Children’s understanding of social-cognitive and social-communicative aspects of discourse irony. Manuscript revised and resubmitted.


Astington, J. W. (2008). More manifesto than blueprint: Katherine Nelson’s vision for the future of cognitive development research. (Essay review of “Young minds in social worlds” K. Nelson), Cognitive Development, 23, 438-444.

Astington, J. W. & Dack, L. A. (2008). Theory of mind. In M. M. Haith & J. B. Benson (Eds.), Encyclopedia of infant and early childhood development, Vol. 3 (pp. 343-356).San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Filippova, E. & Astington, J.W. (2008). Further development in social reasoning revealed in discourse irony understanding. Child Development, 79, 126-138.

Milligan, K., Astington, J.W. & Dack, L.A. (2007). Language and theory of mind: Meta‑analysis of the relation between language ability and false-belief understanding. Child Development, 78, 622-646.

Astington, J. W. (2006). The developmental interdependence of theory of mind and language. In S. C. Levinson & N. J. Enfield (Eds.), The roots of human sociality: Culture, cognition, and human interaction (pp. 179-206). Oxford, UK: Berg.

Astington, J. W., & Baird, J. A. (2005). Introduction: Why language matters. In J. W. Astington & J. A. Baird (Eds.), Why language matters for theory of mind (pp. 3-25). New York: Oxford University Press.

Astington, J. W., & Baird, J. A. (2005). Representational development and false-belief understanding. In J. W. Astington & J. A. Baird (Eds.), Why language matters for theory of mind (pp.163-185). New York: Oxford University Press.

Astington, J. W. & Pelletier, J. (2005). Theory of mind, language, and learning in the early years: Developmental origins of school readiness. In B. D. Homer & C. Tamis-Lemonda (Eds.), The development of social cognition and communication (pp. 205-230). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.


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