Dr Philippa Howard

Lecturer in Psychology of Education


  • Reading
  • Autism Spectrum Condition
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Cognition
  • Eye Tracking
  • Communication

Biography and research interests

I am a Lecturer in the Psychology of Education in the School of Education. I co-direct the Centre for Psychological Approaches to Studying Education (PASE) and am a member of the Centre for Multilevel Modelling. Before I joined the University of Bristol, I was a Lecturer in Psychology at both Bournemouth University and Solent University. I completed my PhD in Experimental Cognitive Psychology at the University of Southampton

My research examines the language and communication differences associated with autism. My core line of research aims to identify why autistic people are vulnerable to experiencing reading comprehension challenges. I am interested in the process of reading, given its importance to modern day living and the psychological complexity of this seemingly automatic task. The ultimate goal of this work is to inform policy and education to increase inclusive practices.

To study reading, I predominantly use eye tracking methods. This is because eye movement data provides detailed information about how people process text and the factors that influence this. I also use a range of other methods and measures to complement eye tracking data, including standardised cognitive assessments, surveys, and computerised experimental tasks. I am principal investigator on an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded project about the cognitive mechanisms involved in inference generation (‘reading between the lines’) for both autistic and non-autistic people (starting in 2023), an Experimental Psychology Society (EPS) funded project examining pronoun processing for both autistic and non-autistic people, and an ESRC impact award that is aiming to enhance and develop autism research in Bristol.

Journal Articles

  1. Howard, P. L., & Sedgewick, F. (2021). ‘Anything but the phone!’: Communication mode preferences in the autism communityAutism, 25(8), 2265-2278.
  2. Howard, P. L., Zhang, L., & Benson, V. (2019). What can eye movements tell us about subtle cognitive processing differences in autism? Vision, 3(2), 22.
  3. Howard, P. L., Liversedge, S. P., & Benson, V. (2017). Processing of co‚Äźreference in autism spectrum disorder. Autism Research, 10(12), 1968-1980.
  4. Howard, P. L., Liversedge, S. P., & Benson, V. (2017). Investigating the use of world knowledge during on-line comprehension in adults with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 47(7), 2039-2053.
  5. Howard, P. L., Liversedge, S. P., & Benson, V. (2016). Benchmark eye movement effects during natural reading in autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 43(1), 109.
  6. Benson, V., Castelhano, M. S., Howard, P. L., Latif, N., & Rayner, K. (2015). Looking, seeing and believing in autism: Eye movements reveal how subtle cognitive processing differences impact in the social domain. Autism Research, 9(8), 879-887.
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Dr Philippa Howard
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