Margaret Donaldson


Bachelors: University of Edinburgh 1947

Masters: University of Edinburgh 1953

Ph.D: University of Edinburgh 1956


Lecturer: University of Edinburgh 1953-1988.


In 1958 Donaldson worked with PiagetĄŻs research group in Switzerland and took part in ongoing studies of children.


Comments from Donaldson about her work (students from the 2001 cohort emailed her): Her favorite piece is Human Minds, but she believes that the Ą°worldĄŻs favoriteĄ± is ChildrenĄŻs Minds. She believes her most important contribution to research on children has been to show how essential it is to take into account the importance of context, for example, the physical setting and the other people in that setting, when studying children.


Selected Publications


1963: A study of childrenĄŻs thinking. London: Tavistock

1978: ChildrenĄŻs minds. New York: Norton. (translated into 20 languages)

1992: Human minds: An exploration. New York: Viking.


Articles and chapters

1996:True negatives and false beliefs. In W. J. M. Levelt (Ed.), Advanced psycholinguistics. Nigmegen, Germany: Max Plank Institute

1996: Humanly possible: Education and the scope of mind. In D. Olson & N. Torrance (Eds.), The handbook of education and human development. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.

1988: The origins of inference. In J. Bruner & H. Haste (Eds.), Making sense: The childĄŻs construction of the world. London: Methuen.

1984: Speech and writing and modes of learning. In H. Goodman, A. Oberg, & F. Smith (Eds.), Awakening to literacy. London: Heinemann.

1982: Conservation: What is the question? British Journal of Psychology, 73, 181-186.

1977: LĄŻerreur et la prise de lĄŻerreur. Bulletin de Psychologie, 30, 181-186.

1975: Conservation accidents. Cognition, 3, 341-350 (with J. McGarrigle)

1974: Some clues to the nature of semantic development. Journal of child language, 1, 185-194 (with J. McGarrigle)

1971: Preconditions of inference.  In J. K. Cole (Ed.), Nebraska Symposium on Motivation.

1968: Less is more: A study of language comprehension in young children. British Journal of Psychology, 59, 461-471 (with G. Balfour).




1993: Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh

1993: Elected Honorary Fellow of the British Psychological Society

1991: Elected Honorary Life Member of the United Kingdom Reading Association

1990: Portrait hung in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery (painted by Donald Swan).

1990: Publication of Understanding children: Essays in honour of Margaret Donaldson. (R. Grieve & M. Hughes (Eds.). Oxford: Blackwell)

1983: David H. Russell Award  for ChildrenĄŻs Minds.