Mackintosh was born in London, the son of Ian Mackintosh and his wife Daphne Cochrane. He was educated at Winchester College and Magdalen College, Oxford, where he obtained a B.A. and in 1963 a D.Phil. From 1964 until 1967 he was a lecturer at Oxford University. From 1967 until 1973 he held a Killiam Professorship at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. From 1973 to 1981 he taught at the University of Sussex, prior to being appointed Head of the Department of Experimental Psychology in the University of Cambridge in 1981 until his retirement in 2002.
Mackintosh has held visiting professorships at the University of Pennsylvania, University of California, Berkeley, University of Hawaii, University of New South Wales and Yale University. He is a Fellow of King's College, Cambridge. The British Psychological Society awarded him the Biological Medal in 1984 and the President's Award in 1986. In 1987 he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society. He is currently Emeritus Professor of Experimental Psychology as well as Distinguished Associate in the Psychometrics Centre in the University of Cambridge.
- Mackintosh, N. J. (1974), Psychology of Animal Learning, Academic Press, ISBN 0124646506
- Mackintosh, N. J. (1983), Conditioning and Associative Learning, Clarendon Press, ISBN 0198521014
- Mackintosh, N. J. (1995), Cyril Burt: fraud or framed?, Oxford University Press, ISBN 019852336X
- Mackintosh, N. J. (1998), IQ and Human Intelligence, Oxford University Press, ISBN 019852367X
- Mackintosh, N. J. (1995), Cyril Burt: fraud or framed?, Oxford University Press, p. iv
- Official homepage of N. J. Mackintosh, Psychometrics Centre, University of Cambridge.
- Bibliography of N. J. Mackintosh
- Figures In Psychology, An OSU Psychology Project Of Major Cognitive Psychologists
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