Dr Karri Gillespie-Smith

Lecturer in Applied Psychology


In 2011 I completed a PhD at the University of Stirling on "Eye-tracking explorations of attention to faces for communicative cues in Autism Spectrum Disorders". Following this (2011-2012) I worked at the University of Aberdeen, Self Lab, as a Post-Doctoral Fellow investigating the self-referential effect (SRE) in children and how the SRE impacts on encoding and recall within learning environments. In 2012-2013 I was a researcher in the MRC Centre for Reproductive Health at the University of Edinburgh exploring infant's early cognitive processing using eye-tracking methodology. After the completion of my research post I was based at Heriot Watt University as a Teaching Fellow (2013-2014), then University of West of Scotland as a Lecturer (2014-2019) before being appointed as a lecturer in Applied Psychology at the University of Edinburgh.   

Postgraduate teaching

Dissertation Supervisor - MSc Mental Health (Psychology Conversion)

Dissertation Supervisor - MSc in Applied Psychology for Children and Young People 

Academic tutor/Supervisor - Doctorate in Clinical Psychology

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Research summary

I am a Developmental Psychologist interested in linking core social and cognitive constructs to real world applications.  These core constructs include, social attention, face perception, and self-concept. My overarching research theme is interested in how core socio-cognitive strengths and weaknesses impact wider areas of functioning (e.g. clinical symptomology, mental health and wellbeing, forensic applications, risk awareness, social relationships, social media use and gaming) in Autism and other vulnerable groups.  To carry out this research I use a variety of methodologies including behavioural paradigms, eye-tracking, survey based methods and (most recently) qualitative.

Current research interests

* Understanding social and cognitive development in typical and atypical groups * Self-concept in typical and atypical groups * Autism, Williams Syndrome, Intellectual Disabilities and Childhood Trauma * Eye-tracking; social attention; visual attention; face perception; processing stimulus complexity, and realism.

Affiliated research centres

Project activity

'Self' processing in atypical groups.

Social processing and risk awareness in Autism.

Vulnerable groups within the justice system.

Trauma and trauma informed services

Children with Intellectual Disabilities and their families during COVID-19

Autism and Social Media.

Face Perception: Are you an expert in all things FACES?

Current project grants

2019 - Scottish Institute Policing Research, Small Grant Competition. Local Approaches to Policing (Lead)

Past project grants

2018 - 2019 Experimental Psychological Society, Small Grants scheme, (Lead)
2017-ongoing Vice Principal Fund, Internal University Fund, University of West of Scotland, (Co-Applicant)
2015-2016 Internal University Fund, University of West of Scotland, (Lead)
2013-2014 European Co-operation in Science and Technology (COST) - Short-Term Scientific Mission; (Lead)
2012-2012 Carnegie, Graduate Student Funding (Lead)
2008-2011 Departmental Studentship, University of Stirling, Stirling

View all 30 publications on Research Explorer