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Situated action and communication research

Explore our work in situated action and communication, 1 of our areas of expertise in Psychology


Our research studies action and communication in relation to the contexts and situations in which they emerge. Our work takes the body, and the social, material world in which we live, as fundamental to all psychology. 

Much of our research explores the processes through which human beings are influenced by their immediate worlds – and how they shape them, too. From this perspective, ‘things’ in the world – often seen as physical objects – are often deeply social as well. 

Many of our researchers in our Centre for Situated Action and Communication study the implicit and often non-verbal ways in which we engage with other people, and the ways in which these processes influence social understanding, identity, and culture itself.

Our research and findings are regularly published in various journals within the field, including Developmental Psychology, Autism, PLoS One, Discourse Studies, and Sports Medicine.

Our research covers the following topics

  • Development
    Attentional and intentional development in infancy, social understanding, intersubjectivity, social coordination
  • Situated Action
    Exploratory behaviours in children, exploration and skill, body know-how, intentional action, social cognition in engagement, robot ethics
  • Communication
    Empowerment in disability, autism, mental health and disability, ageing, dementia.

Research methods

Our most common research methods include:

  • Naturalistic observations
  • Field and laboratory experiments
  • Interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Conversation Analysis
  • Longitudinal methods
  • Fixed and mobile eye tracking
  • Thermal Imaging

Partnerships and collaborations

We have links with international centres around the world, including:

  • 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

Publications include

Project highlights

  • Autism Research Network – Our Centre for Situated Action and Communication is home to the Autism Research Network (ARN), which was 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 in conducting research to increase employment outcomes for people in the spectrum.
  • Public Engagement and partnership with Winchester Science Centre & Planetarium
  • Advisory and Training work with practitioners and parents – including the website nurture-science.com – a platform that aims to offer reliable information regarding controversial issues in health and education; a partnership with the local nursery network Growing Places; a twice-yearly Family Newsletter about current infancy research; and diverse training to develop awareness of infant social understanding and skills, in partnership with Brazelton Centre, Cambridge, and Fernandez Hospitals, Hyderabad, India

Discover our areas of expertise

Situated action and communication is 1 of our 4 areas of expertise in our Psychology research area – explore the others below.

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