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Professor James Russell

Professor James Russell

Emeritus Professor of Cognitive Development

Director of the Cambridge Developing Cognition Laboratory

Fellow of Queens' College

Director of Studies for the Psychological and Behavioural Sciences (PBS) Tripos at Queens’ College

Office Phone: +44 (0)1223 (3)33553 (Department) / +44 (0)1223 (7)62336 (Queens' College)

Subject groups/Research projects

Developmental Psychology:

Research Interests

  • cognitive development from infancy to middle childhood
  • philosophical psychology
  • language acquisition


  • young children’s conception of personal visibility
  • implications of Kantian theory for psychology
  • executive functioning and theory of mind
  • minimalist theories of episodic experience
  • episodic memory and episodic foresight

Key Publications

Key and Recent Publications

Russell, J. (1975) The interpretation of conservation instructions by 5-year-old children. Journal of Child Psychology and  Psychiatry, 16, 233-244.

Russell, J. (1979) The status of genetic epistemology. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 9, 53-71.

Russell, J. (1980) Action from knowledge and conditioned behaviour: Part one: the stratification of behaviour. Behaviourism, 8, 87-98.

Russell, J. (1980) Action from knowledge and conditioned behaviour:  Part two: Criteria for epistemic behaviour.  Behaviourism, 8, 133-148.

Russell, J. (1981) Action from knowledge and conditioned behaviour: Part three: The human case. Behaviourism, 9, 107-125.

Russell, J. (1987) "Can we say...?" Children's understanding of intensionality [sic]. Cognition, 25, 289-308.

Russell, J., Mauthner, N., Sharpe, S. & Tidswell, T. (1991) The 'windows task' as a measure of strategic deception in preschoolers and autistic subjects.  British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 9, 331-349.

Russell, J. (1996) Agency: Its role in mental development. Hove: Erlbaum (UK), Taylor & Francis.

Bíró, S. and Russell, J. (2001) The role of arbitrary procedures in means-end behaviour in autism. Development and Psychopathology, 13, 96-108.

Russell, J. and Hill, E. J. (2001) Action-monitoring and intention reporting in children with autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 42, 317-328.

Russell, J., Hill, E. J & Franco, F. (2001) The role of belief veracity in understanding intentions–in-action: Preschool children’s performance on the Transparent Intentions Task. Cognitive Development, 16, 775-792.

Russell, J. & Thompson, D. (2003) Memory development in the second year: For events or locations? Cognition, 87, B97-B105.

Russell, J. (2004) What is language development? Rationalist, Empiricist and Pragmatist approaches to the acquisition of syntax. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Thompson, D. & Russell, J. (2004) The 'ghost condition': imitation versus emulation in toddlers' observational learning. Developmental Psychology, 40, 882-889.

Russell, J. (2007) Controlling core knowledge: conditions for the ascription of intentional states to self and others by children. Synthêse, 159, 167-196.

Clayton, N. S, & Russell, J. (2009) Looking for episodic memory in animals and young children: Prospects for a new minimalism. Neuropsychologia, 47,  2330-2340.

Russell, J., Alexis, D., & Clayton, N. (2010) Episodic future thinking in 3- to 5-year-old children: The ability to think of what will be needed from a different point of view. Cognition, 114, 56-71.

Russell, J, Cheke, L, Clayton, N. & Meltzoff, A. N. (2011) What can What-When- Where (WWW) binding tasks tell us about young children's episodic foresight? Theory and two experiments? Cognitive Development, 26, 356-370.

Russell, J. and Hanna, R. (2012) A minimalist approach to the development of episodic memory. Mind and Language, 27, (1) 29-54. Full-text PDF.

Russell, J., Gee, B. & Bullard, C. (2012) Why do young children hide by closing their eyes? Self-visibility and the developing concept of self.  Journal of Cognition and Development, 13(4):550-576.