Dr Rory T. Devine Ph.D., C.Psychol., AFBPsS.

Dr Rory T. Devine

School of Psychology
Lecturer in Developmental Psychology

Contact details

School of Psychology
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Rory T. Devine is a developmental psychologist with expertise in children’s social and cognitive development, longitudinal research methods and psychometrics. His research focuses on individual differences in ‘higher-order’ cognitive skills from infancy to adulthood. His work seeks to understand: (1) why children differ from one another in their ability to reason about others’ minds (or ‘theory of mind’) and to control their own thoughts and actions (or ‘executive function’); and (2) what consequences variation in these domains has for social, behavioural and academic adjustment.


  • BSc (Hons) (University of Dublin, Trinity College, Ireland)
  • MPhil (University of Cambridge, United Kingdom)
  • PhD (University of Cambridge, United Kingdom)


Dr Devine completed his PhD (2009 – 2012) at the Department of Psychology in the University of Cambridge funded by a prestigious Benefactors’ Graduate Research Scholarship from St John’s College, Cambridge. This work advanced the field through: the creation of new methods for studying individual differences in theory of mind beyond the preschool years (the ‘Silent Film Task’); demonstrating on-going development in theory of mind across middle childhood; examining the ways in which executive function contributes to theory of mind; and showing how individual differences in mindreading contribute to social adjustment.

Prior to taking up his Lectureship at the University of Birmingham, Dr Devine worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the Centre for Family Research at the University of Cambridge (2012 – 2017) and Director of Studies in Psychology and College Research Associate at Clare College, Cambridge (2014 – 2017). During his post-doctoral work, Dr Devine collaborated on two ESRC-funded multi-site studies aimed at examining social influences on children’s theory of mind and executive function. These projects have broken new ground by creating culture-fair measures of individual differences in children’s theory of mind and elucidating the ways in which children’s social environments help and hinder the emergence of theory of mind and executive function.

Dr Devine has extensive experience and expertise in test creation and development, observational methods, longitudinal research, cross-cultural research, and statistical modeling.


  • Introduction to Developmental Psychology


ORCID: 0000-0002-3710-7878 

Dr Devine’s research interests include:

  • The measurement and conceptualisation of individual differences in theory of mind and executive function
  • The development of theory of mind and executive function
  • Social and biological influences on both theory of mind and executive function
  • The relations between individual differences in theory of mind and behavioural, academic and social adjustment in childhood
  • Longitudinal research, confirmatory factor analysis, psychometrics, meta-analytic research, cross-cultural research

Other activities

Dr Devine is a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. He is also a member of the Society for Research in Child Development.


Peer Reviewed Journal Articles 

Devine, R.T. & Hughes, C. (2013). Silent films and strange stories: Theory of mind, gender and social experiences in middle childhood. Child Development, 84, 989 – 1003. 

Ensor, R., Devine, R.T., Marks, A. & Hughes, C. (2014).  Mothers' cognitive references to two-year-olds predict theory of mind at ages 6 and 10. Child Development, 85, 1222 – 1235. 

Devine, R.T. & Hughes, C. (2014). Relations between false-belief understanding and executive function in early childhood: A meta-analysis. Child Development, 85, 1777 – 1794. 

Hughes, C., Devine, R.T., Ensor, R., Koyasu, M., Mizokawa, A. & Lecce, S. (2014). Lost in Translation? Comparing British, Japanese and Italian Children’s Theory-of-Mind Performance. Child Development Research, Article ID 893492. 

Lecce, S., Bianco, F., Devine, R.T., Hughes, C. & Banerjee, R. (2014). Promoting theory of mind in middle childhood: A training program. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 126, 52 – 67. 

Hughes, C., Daly, I., White, N., Foley, S. & Devine, R.T. (2015). Measuring the foundations of school readiness: Introducing a new questionnaire for teachers - the Brief Early Skills and Support Index (BESSI). British Journal of Educational Psychology, 85, 332 – 356. 

Hughes, C. & Devine, R.T. (2015). Individual differences in theory of mind from preschool to adolescence: Achievements and future directions. Child Development Perspectives, 9, 149 – 153. 

Devine, R.T., White, N., Ensor, R. & Hughes, C. (2016). Theory of mind in middle childhood: Longitudinal associations with executive function and social competence. Developmental Psychology, 52, 758 – 771. 

Devine, R.T. & Hughes, C. (2016). Measuring Theory of Mind in Middle Childhood: Reliability and Validity of the Silent Films and Strange Stories tasks. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 149, 23 – 40. 

Wang, Z., Devine, R.T., Wong, K. & Hughes, C. (2016). Theory of mind and executive function in middle childhood across cultures. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 149, 6 – 22. 

Devine, R.T., Bignardi, G. & Hughes, C. (2016). Executive function mediates the relations between parental behaviours and children’s early academic ability. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, Article 1902. 

Lecce, S., Bianco, F., Devine, R.T. & Hughes, C. (2017). Relations between theory of mind and executive function in middle childhood: A short-term longitudinal study. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 163, 69 – 86. 

Hughes, C., Devine, R.T., & Wang, Z. (2017). Does parental mind-mindedness account for cross-cultural differences in preschoolers’ theory of mind? Child Development, Early Online View, DOI: 10.1111/cdev.12746.   

Devine, R.T. & Hughes, C. (2017). Family correlates of false belief understanding in early childhood: A meta-analysis. Child Development, Early Online View, DOI: 10.1111/cdev.12682 

Hughes, C. & Devine, R.T. (2017). For better or for worse? Positive and negative parental influences on children’s executive function. Child Development, Early Online View, DOI: 10.1111/cdev.12915 

Chapters in Edited Volumes: 

Hughes, C. & Devine, R.T. (2015). A social perspective on theory of mind. In M. Lamb and R.M. Lerner (Eds.). Handbook of Child Psychology and Developmental Science (7th ed.), Volume III: Social, Emotional and Personality Development. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. 

Hughes, C. & Devine, R.T. (2013). Theory of Mind. In D.S. Dunn (Ed.). Oxford Bibliographies in Psychology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. 

Hughes, C. & Devine, R.T. (2017). Family influences on theory of mind: A review. In V. Slaughter and M. DeRosnay (Eds.). Environmental Influences on Theory of Mind. Hove, UK: Psychology Press.

Devine, R.T. (2017). Longitudinal and Cross-Sectional Designs. In B. Hopkins, E. Geangu & S. Linkenauger (Eds.). The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Child Development (2nd Edition). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. 

Hughes, C. & Devine, R.T. (2018). Parental influences on children’s executive function: A differentiated approach. In S.A. Wiebe and J. Karbach (Eds.), Executive Function: Development Across the Life Span (pp. 160 – 171). London: Routledge. 

Devine, R.T. (2017). Theory of Mind. In V. Zeigler-Hill & T. Shackelford (Eds.). Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences. Springer Publications.  

View an up-to-date list of Dr Devine’s publications 

View all publications in research portal