Alison Gopnik
Child Psychologist, Writer and Philosopher

Alison Gopnik is a professor of psychology and affiliate professor of philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley. She received her BA from McGill University and her PhD. from Oxford University. She is an internationally recognized leader in the study of children’s learning and development and was the first to argue that children’s minds could help us understand deep philosophical questions.


She is the author or coauthor of over 100 journal articles and several books including Words, Thoughts and Theories, and the bestselling and critically acclaimed popular books  The Scientist in the Crib, and The Philosophical Baby: What Children’s Minds Tell Us About Love, Truth and the Meaning of Life. Her latest book, The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the New Science of Child Development Tells Us About the Relationship Between Parents and Childrenwas released in August 2016. She writes the “Mind and Matter” science column for the Wall Street Journal, and has also written widely about cognitive science and psychology for Science, The New York Times, Scientific American, The Times Literary Supplement, The New York Review of Books, New Scientist and Slate, among others.  She has frequently appeared on TV and radio including The Charlie Rose Show and The Colbert Report. She has three sons and one grand-son and lives in Berkeley, California with her husband Alvy Ray Smith.


Download Bio
Trade Paperback
The Philosophical Baby
What Children's Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life

In the last decade there has been a revolution in our understanding of the minds of infants and young children. We used to believe that babies were irrational,...

The Gardener and the CarpenterWhat the New Science of Child Development Tells Us About the Relationship Between Parents and Children
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

In The Gardener and the Carpenter, the pioneering developmental psychologist and philosopher Alison Gopnik argues that the familiar twenty-first-century picture of parents and children is profoundly wrong—it's not just based on bad science, it's bad for kids and parents, too.

The Scientist in the Crib: Why Children are the Best Learners in the Universe: Alison argues that developmental psychology shows that children use the same learning techniques as the greatest scientists, and outlines in detail just what those learning methods are like.
What it's Like to be a Baby: Are Babies More Conscious than we are? Conventional wisdom suggests that babies are less conscious than we are if they are conscious at all. Alison argues on the contrary that recent neuroscientific discoveries suggest that babies are more aware of more of the world than we are.
Baby Love: What the Experience of Parenting Tells us about Morality, Identity and the Meaning of Life: For most parents, having a baby is one of the most morally and spiritually profound, and unique, experiences of their lives. And yet philosophers and theologians have said very little about children. Alison outlines some of what caring for children tells us about the human condition.
The Science of Imagination and Imagination as Science: Children spend many of their waking hours off in the crazy world of pretend play. What function does the wild imagination of childhood serve? Alison shows how the imagination of children’s play underpins adult science, culture and technology.

Check out Alison Gopnik’s contributions on Closer to Truth.

Read or listen to an interview with Alison Gopnik.

Read a transcript of an interview with Alison Gopnik.

Advance Praise for The Gardener and the Carpenter “What a relief to find a book that takes a stand against the practice of “helicopter parenting” so prevalent today . . . [The Gardener and the Carpenter] not only dispels the myth of a single best model for good parenting but also backs up its proposals with real-life examples and research studies . . . This book will provide helpful inspiration for parents and may prompt some to rethink their strategies.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Praise for The Philosophical Baby
“[Gopnik’s] account of what the science of recent decades has had to say about infants’ minds tells a fascinating story of how we become the grown-ups that we are.”
The New York Times 

“One of our best writers, Alison Gopnik reveals the inner workings of those minds that have been wrapped in mystery for all of human time: our children’s.”
-Daniel Levitin, author of This Is Your Brain on Music

“[A] fascinating and thought-provoking new book . . . For all the heavy subject matter, The Philosophical Baby is never ponderous. In fact, Gopnik explores the subject of how children think with a fresh, enthusiastic and wry voice . . . Fun and fascinating, The Philosophical Baby is a must-read for anyone who wants to better understand child development and what it means to be human.”
—Amy Scribner, Bookpage

“Gopnik is a fine writer, and her wit enlivens a subject that could easily veer into the overly abstract . . . She is also passionate about her subject. The Philosophical Baby isn’t simply a summary of recent research on young minds. Rather, Gopnik seeks to place early childhood in the context of 2,500 years of Western philosophy.”
—Mark Sloan, San Francisco Chronicle