Professor Claire Hughes

MA (Cantab), PhD (Cantab)

Fellow (C), Secretary of the Governing Body, College Lecturer, Director of Studies, Postgraduate Mentor

College Roles

  • Professorial Fellow (C)
  • Secretary of the Governing Body
  • College Lecturer in Psychological and Behavioural Sciences
  • Director of Studies in Psychological and Behavioural Sciences
  • Postgraduate Mentor

University Roles

  • Deputy Director, Centre for Family Research
  • Deputy Head for Psychology Department (Wellbeing, Equality & Diversity)
  • Subject Convenor (Psychology & Behavioural Sciences)


Telephone: +44 (0) 1223 334517



Claire Hughes completed her first degree and her PhD (on the topic of executive function in autism) at the University of Cambridge. A two-year post-doc in Paris allowed Claire to extend this work to demonstrate executive difficulties among first-degree relatives of individuals with autism. Returning to the UK, Claire worked for 6 years at the Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Research Centre in London, where she turned her attention to the social and cognitive difficulties displayed by ‘hard to manage’ preschoolers.

Since November 2000, Claire has been based at the Centre for Family Research in Cambridge, conducting longitudinal studies (funded principally by the ESRC) that examine the origins and consequences of individual differences in theory of mind and executive function for children’s social relationships and adjustment to primary and secondary school. Over the past decade, Claire’s work has become increasingly international, involving multi-site studies of the transition to parenthood (with collaborators in New York and the Netherlands) and cross-cultural comparisons of executive function and theory of mind, with a particular focus on East-West contrasts.

Claire’s current (ESRC funded) work focuses on the transition to school and aims: (i) to ensure that children’s voices are heard alongside the views of parents and teachers; (ii) to examine maternal and paternal experiences of their child’s transition to school; (iii) apply wearable devices and automated analysis to gather rich information on children’s linguistic environments and their potential importance for children’s success in the transition to school; and (iv) dovetail with a parallel study of children with Down Syndrome (DS) to compare experiences for families with neurotypical children and DS children. Recent philanthropic funding has enabled Claire to extend this school-readiness study to Hong Kong and mainland China.

Research Interests

  • Cognitive development (executive functioning and theory of mind)
  • Family influences on child problem behaviours
  • Transition to School
  • Transition to Parenthood