Professor Sophie von Stumm



I am Professor of Psychology in Education and Director of the Hungry Mind Lab at the Department of Education at the University of York.

After completing my PhD in Psychology in 2010, I worked at the University of Chichester (2010-11), completed an ESRC-funded post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Edinburgh (2011-12), and lectured at Goldsmiths University of London (2012-17) and the London School of Economics (2017-18).

I am keen to communicate with international academic colleagues and potential PhD students interested in research investigating the causes and consequences of individual differences in learning. In particular, please contact me if you would like to discuss the following projects:

  • Genomic prediction of educational outcomes
  • Effects of early life experiences for cognitive development
  • Technologies for measuring behaviour and cognitive function
  • The role of personality traits for learning



I study the causes and consequences of individual differences in learning across the life course. I integrate a range of theories and methods from psychology, education, sociology, epidemiology and genomics to pursue research in three key: (a) using genome-wide polygenic scores to better understand educational outcomes; (b) the effects of early life environments on children’s language development; and (c) the role of personality traits like curiosity and imagination for learning. 

My work has been funded by the British Academy, Wellcome Trust, and the John Templeton Foundation, and I am currently recipient of a Jacobs Foundation Fellowship 2017-19.

Three recent representative publications are:

  1. von Stumm, S., & Scott, H. R. (2019). Imagination links with schizotypal beliefs, not with creativity or learning. British Journal of Psychology, in press
  2. Ayorech, Z., Plomin, R., & von Stumm, S. (2019). Using DNA to predict educational trajectories in early adulthood. Developmental Psychology, in press
  3. Plomin, R., & von Stumm, S. (2018). The new genetics of intelligence. Nature Reviews Genetics, doi:10.1038/nrg.2017.104

External activities


I am on the Board of Directors for the International Society for the Study of Individual Differences (ISSID) and the British Society for the Psychology of Individual Differences. Also, I am a member of the ESRC Grant Assessment Panel for Secondary Data Analysis Initiative (Panel D). Previously, I served on the advisory panel for interdisciplinary research for REF 2021 (IDAP; 2016-18).

Editorial duties

I am Associate Editor for Personality and Individual Differences and for the British Journal of Psychology


Contact details

Department of Education
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: +441904323464