Doug Symons


Email address:

Telephone: (902) 585-1571

Office location: 426 Horton Hall

Classes taught: Introductory Psychology, Child Psychopathology, Cognitive Assessment, Personality Assessment,  Graduate Practicum



B.Sc., McMaster University, 1983

M.A., University of Western Ontario, 1985

Ph.D., University of Western Ontario, 1990

Clinical Internship (APA Accredited), 1988 - 1989



Doug Symons is a child-clinical psychologist with general research interests in early social development and topics in child-clinical. More specifically, mother-infant interactions and attachment theory, social understanding, quantitative methods in sequential analyses, and adjustment of children with learning disabilities have been the focus of recent research. Dr. Symons has received numerous SSHRC grants to support his research.



Symons, D.K., Coxhead, A., Parkin, C.M., & Burt, J. (under review). Observing attachment - relevant behavior: Parent-child separation behavior can affect the social appraisals made by others.

Symons, D.K.  (in press).  The h-index, graduate student applicants, and comparing rankings:   A critique of Carleton et al. (2010).  Canadian Psychology.

Symons, D.K., et al. (2011).   Mental state language use and elaborative discourse during experimentally-controlled and naturalistic book-reading interactions are related to adult attachment orientation   in preparation. 

Symons, D.K.  (2010).  A review of the practice and science of child custody and access assessment in the USA and Canada.  Professional Psychology:  Research and Practice, 41, 267-273.

Clark, S., & Symons, D.K.  (2009).  Representations of attachment relationships, the self, and significant others in 5 to 9 year-old children.   Journal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 18, 316-321.

Symons, D.K., & Szielasko, A.L.  (2009).  Attachment styles within sexual relationships are strategic. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 32, 42-43. 

Szielasko, A.., Symons, D., & Boutilier, J.  (2008).  Juvenile sex offending within an attachment framework.  The Proceedings of the 2007 North American Correctional and Criminal Justice Psychology Conference, Public Safety Canada, 137-141.   

Walsh,T.M., McGrath, P.J., & Symons, D.K.  (2008).  Attachment dimensions and young children's response to pain.  Acute Pain, 10, 107.

Walsh,T.M., McGrath, P.J., & Symons, D.K.  (2008).  Attachment dimensions and young children's response to pain.  Pain Research and Management, 13, 33–40.

Symons, D.K., Fossum, K., & Collins, T.B.K.  (2006).  A longitudinal study of belief and desire state discourse during mother – child play and later false belief understanding.  Social Development, 15, 676-691.

Moore, C., & Symons, D. (2005). Attachment, theory of mind, and delay of gratification. In B. Homer & C. Tamis-LeMonda (Eds.), The Development of Social Cognition and Communication (pp. 181-199). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Symons, D.K., Peterson, C.C., Slaughter, V., Roche, J., & Doyle, E. (2005). Theory of mind and mental state discourse during book reading and story-telling tasks. British Journal of Developmental Psychology 23, 81-102.

Symons, D.K. (2004). The internalization of mental state discourse contributes to social understanding. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 27, 125-126.

McGee, R., Brodeur, D., Symons, D., Andrade, B., & Fahie, C. (2004) Time perception: does it distinguish between ADHD and RD children in a clinical sample? Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 32, 481-490.

Symons, D. (2004). Mental state discourse and theory of mind: Internalization of self – other understanding within a social – cognitive framework. Developmental Review, 24, 159-188.

Walsh, T., Symons, D., & McGrath, P. (2004). Relations between young children's responses to the depiction of separation and pain experiences. Attachment and Human Development, 6, 53-71.

Fahie, C., & Symons, D. (2003). Executive functioning and theory of mind in children clinically-referred for attention and behavior Problems. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 24, 51-73.

Symons, S., & Symons, D. (2002). Using the Inter- and Intranet in a University Introductory Psychology Course to Promote Active Learning. Computers in Education, 2002(2), 844-845. [Proceedings of the International Conference on Computers in Education, Aukland New Zealand, IEEE Computer Society Press].

Symons, D.K. (2001). A dyad-oriented approach to distress and mother-child relationship outcomes in the first 24 months. Parenting: Science and Practice, 1, 101-122.



Registered Psychologist, Nova Scotia Board of Examiners in Psychology

Society for Research in Child Development

Canadian Psychological Association

Association of Psychologists in Nova Scotia



Honours Students

Dellapinna, E. (2013) - Mother-child Relationships in a Small High Risk Sample: Sensitivity, Attachment Security, and Talk About Thoughts and Feelings

Dickson, J. (2012) - Relationship and Controlled Conversations About Health

Pace, Sarah Beth (2009) - Adult attachment styles and parent-child discourse during joint reading about medical procedures and hospitalization

DeLong, Claire(2009) - Experimentally controlled book reading and attachment styles.

Zwicker, K (2008) - Sexuality and personality of adolescents within the framework of attachment.

Hachey, A. (2007) - Video clips of attachment behaviors as predictors of social attributions.

Christine Saykaly (2006) - How mental state language during social talk affects theory of mind and self-talk:  A longitudinal study. 

Jeanette Lye (2005) - A cross-cultural examination of the role of family pressure on academic motivation and career choices.

Katie Collins (2005) - The stability of mind-mindedness across situations and  its relationship to theory of mind development.

Masters Students

Webster, A. (2013) - Interrelations of Mother-Child Relationship Harmony, Maternal Personality Features, and History of Childhood Trauma in High Psychosocial Risk Families

Gendron, M. (2011) - Talking about Health Events: Conversational Style of Parents and Children in a Family Relationship Context

Benere, J.  M.Sc. thesis (2008).  Adult attachment style and mental state language use during a controlled reading task. 

Kristin Fossum, M.Sc. Thesis (2005).  The relations of desire and belief language during joint reading behaviour and theory of mind development.