Dr Mark Blades MA, BA, PhD, CPsychol, AFBPsS, FHEA

The University of Sheffield
Sheffield S10 2TP, UK
Tel: (+44) 0114 222 6549
Email M.Blades@sheffield.ac.uk
Room: 2-18

Qualifications and output

MA (Archaeology & Anthropology, Cambridge), BA (Psychology, Sheffield), PhD (Child Development, Sheffield). CPsychol, AFBPsS


Output: 10 books, 30 book chapters, 110 journal papers, 50 other papers and reports, 50 invited presentations, 210 conference presentations, including 3 international keynotes

Research Interests

Children's understanding of advertisements
There is a debate about the role of advertising in promoting unhealthy foods and unhealthy lifestyles to children, and whether advertising to children should be banned. We have investigated when children first appreciate that advertisers are trying to persuade them to buy a product. Most previous research has focused on children's understanding of television advertising, but we have also looked at children's understanding of print, ambient, and internet advertising. In general we have found that children before about 7 or 8 years of age have difficulty appreciating the aims of advertisers, and that they may be vulnerable to the persuasive nature of advertising. We are currently investigating the cognitive and social factors that contribute to young children´s understanding of advertising, marketing, and economics.

Children's eyewitness testimony
Most of this research has focused on the analyses of police interviews with vulnerable children in the UK and in other European countries including Cyprus, Greece and Germany, and on ways to improve forensic interviewing techniques. We have also carried out a number of empirical studies investigating, for example: the effects of different types of questions on children's responses in interviews; how children cope with questions that they cannot answer, and whether children answer questions better with their eyes closed.

Children's environmental cognition
My past research included studies of children's environmental cognition, in particular young children's understanding of maps and aerial photographs as representations of places in the world. We have also investigated how children learn and remember routes through new environments. Much of this research has been carried out with children who have disabilities, including children with visual impairments and, currently, with children with Williams syndrome. These are children who have difficulties learning new places and we have investigated ways to help such children improve their mobility and independence.  This research involves the use of virtual reality mazes and townscapes that provide safe environments in which children can learn and practice travelling new routes.

See the following research pages:

Sheffield Cognitive Development Research

Social and Health Research Group


4 from National Science Foundation (USA) and 7 from ESRC, currently:

ESRC-ANR. "Strategies for environmental learning in typical and atypical development" with Emily Farran (Institute of Education, London), Yannick Courbois (Lille), Danielle Mellier (Rouen), Pascal Sockert (Lille). 2010-14. £630,000.

Teaching and administrative duties

I am Director of Postgraduate Studies, and module organiser for PSY249, Developmental Psychology

Editorial boards

  • Associate Editor for British Journal of Developmental Psychology (2003-2011)
  • Associate Editor for Applied Cognitive Psychology (2008-2011)
  • Editorial Boards for International Journal of Behavioral Development (1994-98), Journal of Environmental Psychology (1998-2009), Children, Youth, Environments (2004-present)

Postgraduate Students

Supervisor for 40 previous and current PhD students


A list of key publications can be found below.  For a full list of publications please click here


  • Smith P, Cowie H & Blades M (2015) Understanding Children's Development. John Wiley & Sons. RIS download Bibtex download

Journal articles

Edited books