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Centre for Family Research



My research interests focus on social and emotional development in early childhood. I completed my PhD at the University of Sydney, Australia, examining the longitudinal association between children’s emotion management, socio-cognitive understanding and peer relationships. Following my PhD, I went on to do post-doctoral research at the Evidence Based Practice Unit at University College London and the Centre for Play in Education, Development & Learning (PEDAL), Univerwsity of Cambridge. I am now a Lecturer in Developmental Psychology at the University of Sussex. 


  • Development of social cognition, emotion regulation
  • Social competence in early childhood, friendship, peer relations
  • Affective and cognitive empathy
  • Bullying and victimisation


Key publications: 

Sharpe, H., Fink, E., Duffy, F., & Patalay, P. (2021). Changes in peer and sibling victimization in early adolescence: longitudinal associations with multiple indices of mental health in a prospective birth cohort study. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

Zhen Rao, Elian Fink, & Jenny Gibson (2021) Dyadic Association Between Aggressive Pretend Play and Children’s Anger Expression. British Journal of Developmental Psychology

Patalay, P., O'Neill, E., Deighton, J., & Fink, E. (2020). School characteristics and children's mental health: A linked survey-administrative data study. Preventive Medicine, 141, 106292.

Elian Fink, Silvana Mareva & Jenny Gibson (2020) Dispositional playfulness in young children: A cross-sectional and longitudinal examination of the psychometric properties of a new child self-reported playfulness scale and associations with social behaviour. Infant and Child Development. 29, e2181.

Elian Fink, Marc de Rosnay, Praveetha Patalay, & Caroline Hunt (2020). Early pathways to bullying: A prospective longitudinal study examining the influences of theory of mind and social preference on bullying behaviour during the first 3 years of school. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 38, 458-477. doi:10.1111/bjdp.12328

Jenny Gibson, Elian Fink, Pablo Torres, Wendy V Browne & Silvana Mareva (2020). Making sense of social pretense: The effect of the dyad, sex and language ability in a large observational study of children’s behaviors in a social pretend play context. Social Development, 29, 526-543. doi:10.1111/sode.12420

Elian Fink, Wendy V Browne, Isla Kirk & Claire Hughes (2019) Couple relationship quality and the infant home language environment: Gender-specific findings. Journal of Family Psychology 4(2), 155-164.

Gabrielle McHarg, Elian Fink & Claire Hughes (2019) Crying babies, empathic toddlers, responsive mothers and fathers: Exploring parent-toddler interactions in an empathy paradigm. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 179, 23-37.

Elian Fink, Wendy Browne, Claire Hughes & Jenny Gibson (2018) Using a ‘child’s-eye view’ of social success to understand the importance of school readiness at the transition to formal schooling. Social Development.

Elian Fink, Praveetha Patalay, Helen Sharpe & Miranda Wolpert (2017) Child- and school-level predictors of children’s bullying behaviour: A multilevel analysis in 648 primary schools. Journal of Educational Psychology

Elian Fink, Tjeert Olthof, Frits Goossens, Sandra van der Meijden & Sander Begeer (2017) Bullying related behaviour in adolescents with autism: Links with autism severity, and emotional and behavioural problems. Autism

Rebecca Kuhnert, Sander Begeer, Elian Fink, & Marc de Rosnay (2017). Gender-differentiated effects of theory of mind, emotion understanding, and social preference on prosocial behavior development: A longitudinal study. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 154, 13-27.

Fink, E., Heathers, J A J., & de Rosnay, M (2015) Young children’s affective responses to another’s distress: Dynamic and physiological features, PlosOne. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0121735

Fink, E., Patalay, P., Sharpe, H., Holley, S., Deighton, J., & Wolpert, M. (2015) The prevalence of mental health difficulties in adolescents in 2009 and 2014: A comparison of two cross-sectional studies, Journal of Adolescent Health

Fink, E., Deighton, J., Humphrey, N. & Wolpert, M. (2015) Assessing the bullying and victimisation experiences of children with special educational needs in mainstream schools: Development and validation of the Bullying Behaviour and Experience Scale, Research in Developmental Disorders, 36(1), 611 – 619. DOI: 10.1016/j.ridd.2014.10.048

Fink, E., Begeer, S., Hunt, C & de Rosnay, M. (online, 2014) False-belief understanding and social preference over the first two years of school: A longitudinal study, Child Development

Fink, E., Begeer, S., Peterson, C., Slaughter, V., & de Rosnay, M. (2014) Friendlessness and theory of mind: A prospective longitudinal study, British Journal of Developmental Psychology. DOI: 10.1111/bjdp.12060

de Rosnay, M., Fink, E., Begeer, S., Slaughter V., & Peterson, C. (2014) Talking theory of mind: Young school-aged children’s everyday conversation and understanding of mind and emotion, Journal of Child Language, 41(5), 1179 – 1193. DOI: 10.1017/S0305000913000433

Visiting Researcher
Not available for consultancy


Person keywords: 
Social cognition
Emotion regulation
Social competence