Accessibility statement

Elizabeth Meins



Elizabeth Meins completed her first degree in Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, specialising in Psychology in her final year. She stayed in Cambridge to complete a PhD in Developmental Psychology. After 16 years in the Department of Psychology at Durham University, she moved to York in 2013. Her main area of research focuses on caregivers’ ‘mind-mindedness’ and its role in predicting children’s development.


  • Staffordshire University, Lecturer, 1992-1997
  • Durham University, Lecturer to Professor, 1997-2013
  • Visiting Research Fellow, Macquarie University, 2002

Departmental roles

  • Chair of Departmental Research Committee and Impact Lead



My research interests all focus on how individuals’ social environment relates to their cognitive performance. Much of my research has reported on the positive impact of parents’ ‘mind-mindedness’ (their ability to ‘tune in’ to their young children’s thoughts and feelings) on children’s social-cognitive and social-emotional development. I also conduct research on how children’s private speech relates to their social environment and cognitive performance, and on how young adults’ attachment representations relate to biases in attention and cognitive processing. 


Current grants:  Maternal mind-mindedness: Transmission mechanisms and predicting development into early adulthood 

Research over the last 20 years has shown how caregivers’ early mind-mindedness (attunement to their infants’ internal states) predicts a wide range of positive outcomes in the child. This ESRC-funded project will address two major outstanding questions: (a) what are the developmental mechanisms via which mind-mindedness in the first year of life impacts on children’s later social-cognitive development? and (b) does mind-mindedness continue to predict development into young adulthood?

Research group(s)

  • Developmental Psychology


The majority of my research over the past 25 years has been funded by the ESRC, with additional funding from The Leverhulme Trust. In 2000, I received an outstanding contribution to research award from the Society for Reproductive and Infant Psychology.


  • Annie Bernier, University of Montreal
  • Jean-Francois Bureau, University of Ottawa
  • Stephanie Carlson, University of Minnesota
  • Kathleen Corriveau, Boston University
  • Marc de Rosnay, University of Sydney
  • Charles Fernyhough, Durham University
  • Simon Hackett, Durham University
  • Paul Harris, Harvard University
  • Chris Jones, Durham University
  • Patrick Luyten, University of Leuven
  • Carla Martins, University of Minho
  • Cathy McMahon, Macquarie University
  • Luna Muñoz-Centifanti, Durham University
  • Chris Moore, Dalhousie University
  • Elaine Reese, Otago University
  • Dana Shai, Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya

Available PhD research projects

I am happy to hear from prospective PhD students with an interest in any of my research areas. 


Selected publications

  • Meins, E., & Fernyhough, C. (2015). Mind-mindedness coding manual, Version 2.2 (PDF , 199kb) Unpublished manuscript. University of York, York, UK.
  • Meins, E., Bureau, J.-F., & Fernyhough, C. (2018). Mother­–child attachment from infancy to the preschool years: Predicting security and stability. Child Development, 89, 1022-1038.
  • Meins, E., Fernyhough, C., & Centifanti, L. C. M. (2018). Mothers’ early mind-mindedness predicts educational attainment in socially and economically disadvantaged British children. Child Development. DOI: 10.1111/cdev.13028
  • Zeegers, M. A. J., Colonnesi, C., Stams, G.-J. J. M., & Meins, E. (2017). Mind matters: A three-level meta-analysis on parental mentalization and sensitivity as predictors of infant–parent attachment. Psychological Bulletin, 143, 1245–1272 . DOI: 10.1037/bul0000114
  • Centifanti, L. C. M., Meins, E., & Fernyhough, C. (2016). Callous-unemotional traits and impulsivity: Distinct longitudinal relations with mind-mindedness and understanding of others. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 57, 84–92.

Full publications list

See Google Scholar or the York Research Database



  • 1st Year Development and Language

    Transition to Parenthood

External activities


Member of the British Psychological Society and the Society for Research in Child Development

My research has informed the NSPCC’s All babies count and Minding the baby programmes and Baby steps perinatal education service. I am also working with clinical psychologists to deliver a mind-mindedness intervention programme to mothers hospitalised for a range of severe mental illnesses. This research was featured on Radio 4’s All in the mind.

Contact details

Elizabeth Meins
Department of Psychology
University of York
Room PS/B217

Tel: 01904 324602