Department of Psychology

Situated Action and Communication

The Centre has at its core a commitment to studying psychological phenomena in relation to the contexts and situations in which they emerge. Our work covers a multitude of methods – such as naturalistic observations, experiments, conversation analysis, cross-cultural studies, longitudinal studies and so on.

Our focus on situation and context takes the body and the social and material world in which we live as fundamental to all Psychology. Many of our studies focus on the processes through which animate beings are not only influenced by, but actually shape their immediate worlds. In this vein, ‘things’ in the world – often seen as physical objects – are often deeply social as well. Many of us study the implicit and often non-verbal ways in which we engage with other sentient beings, and the way in which these processes influence social understanding, identity, and culture itself.

Our members work in and across a number of scientific domains, such as:

Developmental Psychology

Research programmes: Attentional and intentional engagements in infants (Reddy, Nomikou, Gustafsson, Rossmanith; phonemic and semantic skills (Devonshire); Against the theory of the theory of mind (Costall, Leudar).

Human Movement

Research programmes: Gaze and Steering (Kadar), Gaze and non-verbal information during interpersonal interactions (Dicks), Faking Injuries in Football (Morris), Sniffing robots (Kadar), The kinematics of giving (Reddy, Morris, Becchio; Bialek); Falls in older life (Udell).


Research programmes: Sensory processing and perceiving intentions in AS and typical adults (Lopez, Ambrosini, Reddy); Employment issues in autism (López, Rubin); Interactional competences in autism (Fasulo). See also links to the Autism Research Network and Autism Centre for Research in Employment below.

Disability and Empowerment

Research Programmes: Critical interrogations of services for and systemic practice in working with people with intellectual disability (Haydon-Laurelut); constructions of challenging behaviour in services (Nunkoosing);  analysing talk: choice, control and power relations (Jingree).

Communication and Identity

Research Programmes: Community and identity in health care (Fasulo); Language development and socialisation (Fasulo & Nomikou); Identity and memory (Koppel); Constructions of identities within learning disability services (Jingree).

Autism Research Network

The Centre also houses the Autism Research Network (ARN), set up in response to informal discussions with parents and practitioners in the Hampshire area. The primary aim of this Network is to create a forum to promote a genuine communication channel amongst researchers, practitioners, carers, parents and individuals on the Autism Spectrum. These collaborations have resulted in the creation of the Autism Centre for Research on Employment (ACRE), which specialises on conducting research to increase employment outcomes for people in the spectrum.

Research Themes

The following are some of the theoretical themes in our work (see videos below): the nature of non-verbal intersubjective engagements; the thorny issue of the transparency of mind, the nature of culture and communicative processes; the relation of materiality and mind.


Nonverbal Intersubjective Engagements
Nonverbal Intersubjective Engagements
03:32 minutes

Nonverbal Intersubjective Engagements

The Transparency of Mind in Action
The Transparency of Mind in Action
02:33 minutes

The Transparency of Mind in Action

International Network: TESIS- Towards an Embodied Science of Intersubjectivity (2011-2015)

The centre is part of a Marie-Curie ITN (Initial Training Network) involving Centres at the Universities of Copenhagen, Heidelberg, Munich, Parma, San Sebastian, Hertfordshire, Chieti, and the partnership of LEGO, Interactive-Academie and Springer (

A Summer School was held in June 2014 at Cowdray Park, UK on 'Ways of Engaging and Making Sense'. Please see our YouTube video for more:

Links with International Centres

  • Centre for Research in Life, Mind and Society (CLMS), University of the Basque Country, San Sebastian, Spain
  • Centre for Subjectivity Research (CSR), University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Institute for Advanced Study, University of Konstanz, Germany
  • Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, NL
  • Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (Developmental Psychology), Leipzig, Gemany
  • Enactive Network (EN), Universite de Technologie de Compiegne, France
  • Wales Autism Research Centre, University of Cardiff, Wales
  • Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland
  • Klinik fuer Allgemeine Psychiatrie fuer Psychsoziale Medizin, Universitaet Heidelberg
  • Centre for Neural and Cognitive Sciences, University of Hyderabad, India
  • Aesthetics of Interaction in the Design of Intelligent Products and Systems, Technische Universiteit, Eindhoven, NL

Situated action and communication members

PhD Students/Research Staff

External Members

  • Dr Cristina Becchio (University Torino)
  • Dr Mike Chase (University of East London)
  • Dr Jonathan Delafield-Butt (University of Strathclyde)
  • Dr Katja Liebal (University of Berlin)
  • Dr Hanne de Jaegher (University of San Sebastian)
  • Dr Gabriela Markova (University of Vienna)
  • Prof Ezequiel di Paolo (University of San Sebastian)
  • Dr Roberta Piazza (University of Sussex)
  • Prof Corrado Sinigaglia (University of Milano)

Advisory Panel

  • Prof Daniel Hutto - University of Woollongong, Australia
  • Prof Cintia Rodriguez -  Univ Autonoma de Madrid
  • Prof Audrey van de Meer - Dept of Psychology, NTNU, Trondheim
  • Prof Derek Edwards - Dept of Social Sciences, University of Loughborough
  • Prof Dan Zahavi - Centre for Subjectivity Research, University of Copenhagen