Professor Ian Apperly BA PhD

Professor Ian Apperly

School of Psychology
Professor of cognition and development
Director of the Centre for Developmental Science

Contact details

School of Psychology
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Ian Apperly is an experimental psychologist, and his main research interest is in “mindreading” – the ability to take other people’s perspectives for communication, co-operation, competition or deception. He is the author of over 80 journal articles, and the 2010 book, entitled “Mindreaders: The cognitive basis of theory of mind”.


  • BA, University of Cambridge
  • Ph.D., University of Birmingham


Ian Apperly attended Ivybridge Community College in Devon, studied Natural Sciences at St John’s College, Cambridge, and came to Birmingham in 1995 to study for his Ph.D. with Liz Robinson.


His research interests inform Ian Apperly’s teaching, which includes a Second Year module on Cognitive Development, and part of a Final Year module on Higher Cognitive Functions.

Postgraduate supervision

The work of students and postdocs in his group varies in its emphasis on developmental, cognitive or neuroscientific methods, and often involves collaboration with other colleagues in the School. Professor Apperly supervises doctoral researchers on all topics related to his research interests. Prospective doctoral researchers interested in joining the lab should email Ian in the first instance. Professor Apperly has previously supervised a number of PhDs on topics including psychological and spatial perspective-taking in children and adults, the relationship between reasoning and executive function and individual differences in the basic theory of mind in typical adults.


Ian Apperly is an experimental psychologist, and his main research interest is in “mindreading” – the ability to take other people’s perspectives for communication, co-operation, competition or deception. He is the author of over 80 journal articles, and the 2010 book, entitled “Mindreaders: The cognitive basis of theory of mind”.

Other activities

Ian Apperly has received early career prizes from the British Psychological Society and the Experimental Psychological Society. He is on the editorial board of the journal Cognition, and has been treasurer of the European Society for Philosophy and Psychology, and a member of the Psychology committee of the British Science Association. 


Highlight publications

Devine, RT & Apperly, I 2021, 'Willing and able? Theory of mind, social motivation and social competence in middle childhood and early adolescence', Developmental Science, vol. 25, no. 1, e13137.

Qureshi, AW, Monk, RL, Samson, D & Apperly, IA 2020, 'Does interference between self and other perspectives in theory of mind tasks reflect a common underlying process? Evidence from individual differences in theory of mind and inhibitory control', Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 178-190.

Ellis, K, Moss, J, Stefanidou, C, Oliver, C & Apperly, I 2021, 'The development of early social cognitive skills in neurogenetic syndromes associated with autism: Cornelia de Lange, fragile X and Rubinstein-Taybi syndromes', Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases, vol. 16, no. 1, 488.

Apperly, I & Butterfill, SA 2009, 'Do humans have two systems to track beliefs and belief-like states?', Psychological Review, vol. 116, no. 4, pp. 953-70.

Apperly, I 2010, Mindreaders:the cognitive basis of "theory of mind". Taylor & Francis.

Recent publications


Apperly, IA, Lee, R, van der Kleij, SW & Devine, RT 2024, 'A transdiagnostic approach to neurodiversity in a representative population sample: The N+ 4 model', JCPP Advances.

Quesque, F, Apperly, I, Baillargeon, R, Baron-Cohen, S, Becchio, C, Bekkering, H, Bernstein, D, Bertoux, M, Bird, G, Bukowski, H, Burgmer, P, Carruthers, P, Catmur, C, Dziobek, I, Epley, N, Erle, TM, Frith, C, Frith, U, Galang, CM, Gallese, V, Grynberg, D, Happé, F, Hirai, M, Hodges, SD, Kanske, P, Kret, M, Lamm, C, Nandrino, JL, Obhi, S, Olderbak, S, Perner, J, Rossetti, Y, Schneider, D, Schurz, M, Schuwerk, T, Sebanz, N, Shamay-Tsoory, S, Silani, G, Spaulding, S, Todd, AR, Westra, E, Zahavi, D & Brass, M 2024, 'Defining key concepts for mental state attribution', Communications Psychology, vol. 2, no. 1, 29.

Baber, C, Kandola, P, Apperly, I & McCormick, E 2024, 'Human-centred explanations for artificial intelligence systems', Ergonomics.

Yeung, K, Apperly, I & Devine, RT 2024, 'Measures of individual differences in adult theory of mind: A systematic review', Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews, vol. 157, 105481.

Wilson, R, Hruby, A, Perez-Zapata, D, van der Kleij, SW & Apperly, IA 2023, 'Is recursive "mindreading" really an exception to limitations on recursive thinking?', Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

Markiewicz, R, Rahman, F, Apperly, I, Mazaheri, A & Segaert, K 2023, 'It is not all about you: Communicative cooperation is determined by your partner's theory of mind abilities as well as your own', Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition.

Abu-Akel, A, Wood, SJ, Upthegrove, R, Chisholm, K, Lin, A, Hansen, PC, Gillespie, SM, Apperly, IA & Montag, C 2022, 'Psychosocial functioning in the balance between autism and psychosis: evidence from three populations', Molecular Psychiatry, vol. 27, no. 7, pp. 2976-2984.

van der Kleij, SW, Apperly, I, Shapiro, LR, Ricketts, J & Devine, RT 2022, 'Reading fiction and reading minds in early adolescence: A longitudinal study', Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, vol. 222, 105476.

Reindl, E, Tennie, C, Apperly, I, Lugosi, Z & Beck, S 2022, 'Young children spontaneously invent three different types of associative tool use behaviour', Evolutionary Human Sciences, vol. 4, e5.

Meconi, F, Linde-Domingo, J, S Ferreira, C, Michelmann, S, Staresina, B, Apperly, IA & Hanslmayr, S 2021, 'EEG and fMRI evidence for autobiographical memory reactivation in empathy', Human Brain Mapping, vol. 42, no. 14, pp. 4448-4464.

Rahman, F, Kessler, K, Apperly, IA, Hansen, PC, Javed, S, Holland, CA & Hartwright, CE 2021, 'Sources of cognitive conflict and their relevance to theory-of-mind proficiency in healthy aging: a preregistered study', Psychological Science, vol. 32, no. 12, pp. 1918-1936.

Ellis, K, Oliver, C, Stefanidou, C, Apperly, I & Moss, J 2020, 'An Observational Study of Social Interaction Skills and Behaviors in Cornelia de Lange, Fragile X and Rubinstein-Taybi Syndromes', Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, vol. 50, no. 11, pp. 4001-4010.

Abu-Akel, AM, Apperly, IA, Wood, SJ & Hansen, PC 2020, 'Re-imaging the intentional stance', Royal Society of London. Proceedings B. Biological Sciences, vol. 287, no. 1925, 20200244.


Apperly, IA 2021, Cognitive basis of mindreading in middle childhood and adolescence. in RT Devine & S Lecce (eds), Theory of Mind in Middle Childhood and Adolescence: Integrating Multiple Perspectives. 1st edn, Routledge, pp. 37-54.


Perez-Zapata, DI & Apperly, I 2022 'An International Study of Pure Coordination Games: Adaptable Solutions When Intuitions Are Presumed to Vary' PsyArXiv.

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