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Professor Merideth Gattis PhD

Professor Merideth Gattis


School of Psychology

+44 (0)29 2087 0034
Tower Building, 70 Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3AT
Media commentator
Available for postgraduate supervision

Research summary

I am a psychologist conducting research on cognition, communication & parenting. I am particularly interested in developing new research tools to capture cognition & communication in natural environments. I am also conducting cross-cultural studies of parenting during infancy with the Baby Care Questionnaire. 

Teaching summary

I  teach across all levels of the curriculum.  I lecture on research design to Year 1 students, and lead a final year module on research methods in developmental psychology. I also conduct academic tutorials aimed at developing critical thinking and analytic skills.  I  supervise research projects and research internships on cognition and development.

Undergraduate education

  • B.A. (1985): Gordon College, Massachusetts; Psychology (Magna cum Laude; Honours Scholar Fellowship)

Postgraduate education

  • Ph.D. (1995): supported by NSF; supervised by Professor Keith Holyoak; University of California, Los Angeles; Psychology; dissertation title: 'From Implicit Learning of Visual Patterns to Explicit Knowledge of a Dynamic System'

Honours and awards

  • Guest Professor, Catholic University of Milan, 2018
  • Elected Fellow, Learned Society of Wales, 2016
  • Visiting Scientist, Max Planck Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences, 2005-2006
  • Visiting Scientist, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, 2005

Professional memberships

  • Cognitive Science Society
  • International Society for Infant Studies
  • International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development
  • Learned Society of Wales
  • Society for Research in Child Development

Academic positions

  • October 2014: Professor, Cardiff University, UK
  • October 2011: Reader, Cardiff University, UK
  • 2007-2011: Senior Lecturer, Cardiff University
  • 2002-2007: Lecturer, Cardiff University
  • 1998-2002: Lecturer, Sheffield University
  • 1995-1998: Max Planck Institute Research Fellow, Max Planck Institute for Psychological Research, Munich, Germany

Speaking engagements

BBC radio and television as well as various newspapers and news magazines, including:

Committees and reviewing

  • Panel Member, European Research Council
  • Scientific Evaluator, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action Innovative Training Networks
  • Senior Member, Peer Review College, Economic and Social Research Council
  • Scientific Evaluator, Science of Learning Funding Program, National Science Foundation (USA)
  • Scientific Evaluator, Information Societies Technologies Programme, European Commission
  • Editorial Board, Psychological Science
  • Editorial Board, Parenting: Science and Practice

















  • Schnall, S. and Gattis, M. L. 1998. Transitive inference by visual reasoning. Presented at: Twentieth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, Madison, WI, USA, 1-4 August 1998 Presented at Gernsbacher, M. A. and Derry, S. J. eds.Proceedings of the Twentieth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum pp. 929-934.
  • Gattis, M. L., Bekkering, H. and Wohlschläger, A. 1998. When actions are carved at the joints [Letter]. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 21(5), pp. 691-692. (10.1017/S0140525X98301740)
  • Gattis, M. 1998. Mapping relational structure in visual reasoning. Presented at: Mind III: Spatial Cognition - Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society of Ireland, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland, 17-19 August 1998.
  • Gattis, M. L. 1998. Mapping conceptual and spatial schemas. Presented at: Advances in Analogy Research, Sofia, Bulgaria, July 1998 Presented at Holyoak, K., Gentner, D. and Kokinov, B. eds.Advances in Analogy Research: Integration of Theory and Data from the Cognitive, Computational, and Neural Sciences. NBU Series in Cognitive Sciences Sofia: New Bulgarian University pp. 210-220.




I teach across all levels of the undergraduate curriculum.

I lecture on research design to Year 1 students, and lead a final year module on research methods in developmental psychology.

I also conduct academic tutorials aimed at developing critical thinking and analytic skills.

I supervise research projects and research internships on cognition and development.

I study cognition and communication in children and adults. Past projects have included experimental studies of spatial cognition, imitation, and attention. Current projects include studies of parenting during infancy with the Baby Care Questionnaire, and novel experimental studies of how natural environments influence human communication. 


  • 2016: Cardiff University International Collaboration Seedcorn Fund. Parenting beliefs amongst Latina mothers
  • 2015: University of Manchester. Parent and child interaction in the outdoors.
  • 2012: ESRC. Cultural & individual influences on parenting during infancy
  • 2010: Waterloo Foundation. PhD Studentship. Development following preterm birth
  • 2010: Nuffield. Gaze following and emotion processing in human infants
  • 2008: Waterloo Foundation. £12,000 for 1 year. Development@Cardiff participant programme
  • 2008: ESRC. Competition studentship award. The role of joint attention in social cognition and language development
  • 2008: Wellcome/NIH. £70,000 for 4 years. Mother-child interaction and the development of imitation in preterm infants
  • 2008: Leverhulme. £252,343 for 3 years. Infant imitation in natural contexts
  • 2007: Nuffield. £1,400 for 3 months. Developing a corpus of social learning in human infants
  • 2006: Royal Society. £12,000 for 3 years. A comparison of linguistic polarity in Mandarin Chinese and English
  • 2006:  Wellcome Trust. £1,020 for 3 months. Infant ability to detect intention through acoustic cues
  • 2005: Nuffield. £1,400 for 3 months. Infant imitation and attention
  • 2005: ESRC. £42,000 for 1 year. Early imitation and disengagement
  • 2001: ESRC. £37,000 for 18 months. Early imitation and gaze following
  • 2000: Nuffield Foundation. £99,730 for three years. Social cognition in deaf and hearing children. PI Stephen Want
  • 2000: British Council. £5,200 for two years. Goal-directed imitation.

I have also received various travel awards from the British Academy, Cardiff University, and the Royal Society.

Research groups

  • Baby Care Questionnaire
  • Development@Cardiff
  • Tiny to Tots

Research collaborators

I supervise postgraduate research on cognition and development, and that research can be conducted with infants, children, or adults. I am interested in how social and spatial cognition are related to the development of thinking and reasoning. I am particularly interested in interactions between culture and cognition.

Current studies of social cognition in my laboratory focus on infants. We are conducting experimental studies of attention regulation, imitation and mimicry, intention understanding, and the role of intonation and other acoustic features of speech in mental state understanding. In addition to cross-sectional studies of cognitive development we are currently conducting two longitudinal studies of cognitive and communicative development, one with typically-developing infants only, and one that compares infants born preterm with infants born full term. Both of these longitudinal studies begin from birth and follow development across infancy and early childhood.

Current studies of perceptual reasoning in my laboratory focus on adults. We are conducting experimental studies of perceptual discrimination and organization in different language cultures, to better understand how the interaction between perception and language influences perceptual reasoning.

If you are interested in applying for a PhD, or for further information regarding my postgraduate research, please contact me directly, or submit a formal application.

Past projects

  • Eleonora Mascheroni, Catholic University of Milan
  • Rebecca Sperotto, Cardiff University
  • Katherine Scott, Cardiff University
  • Kate Ellis-Davies, Cardiff University
  • Alice Winstanley, Cardiff University
  • Nia Fowler, Cardiff University
  • Elma Hilbrink, Cardiff University
  • Sarah May, Cardiff University
  • Harriet Over, Cardiff University
  • Elena Sakkalou, Cardiff University
  • Elena Hoicka, Cardiff University
  • Oliver Perra, University of Sheffield


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