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Dr Mary Hanley

Photo of Mary Hanley




Room 0G.436, David Keir Building
School of Psychology
Queen's University Belfast
Belfast, BT7 1NN
Northern Ireland, UK


+44 (0)28 9097 4886


I completed her PhD in Psychology at Queen’s University Belfast in 2010, supervised by Dr Gerry Mulhern and Dr Martin McPhillips. My PhD explored atypical social attention in Autism Spectrum Disorders using eye tracking techniques. I joined the lecturing staff at QUB in August of 2010. I teach on the undergraduate psychology degree program, and on the MSc in Atypical Child Development. My research is based in the eye tracking lab in the School of Psychology, and my research interests focus on attention in atypical development, specifically Autism and Williams syndrome.

School of Psychology Administrative Roles

  • Administration of the School of Psychology’s test collection, located in LG.533
  • Erasmus/International Students


I contribute to teaching across our Undergraduate program and our MSc in Atypical Child Development, mainly in the area of developmental psychology with specific focus on Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Undergraduate Level

  • Level 1 PDP Group
  • PSY 3066 Level Three Developmental Disorders

Postgraduate Level – MSc in Atypical Child Development

  • PSY 7048 Perspectives on Child Development
  • PSY 7049 Atypical Patterns of Development
  • PSY 7050 Assessment and Intervention
  • Postgraduate Supervision

I supervise MSc students on the MSc in Atypical Child Development and PhD students. I am currently supervising Clare Carty on a PhD project exploring typical social attention and links to social functioning, and Bronagh Taylor on a PhD project exploring motor functioning in young people with social, emotional and behaviour problems (with Dr Martin McPhillips).


Member of the Cognition, Development and Education Research Cluster

My research interests are focused mainly in the area of social attention in atypical development, and how social attention links to social cognition and social functioning. For that reason, I am particularly interested in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Williams syndrome, as disorders of development that impact upon social attention, cognition and functioning. Along with behavioural measures, I use a variety of eye tracking techniques to explore social attention in atypical development. I am also interested in the development of associated difficulties in ASD and Williams syndrome, such as sensory processing difficulties and the development of anxiety.

Across different projects I collaborate with Dr. Debbie Riby (Durham University), Dr Jacqui Rodgers (Newcastle University) and Dr. Elisa Back (Kingston University), and within the School of Psychology at Queen’s I collaborate with Dr. Martin Mc Phillips and Dr. Tim Fosker.


£9,994 ‘Using Eye Tracking to Explore Visual Distraction in the Classroom for Pupils with Autism’. British Academy Small Grants Scheme, 2013. PI: M Hanley, CI: D Riby

£11,669 ‘Developing an Anxiety Intervention Targeted to Williams syndrome’. Williams Syndrome Foundation UK, 2013. PI: D Riby, CIs: M Hanley, J Rodgers.


Peer Reviewed Journal Articles

Riby, D.M., Hancock, P.J.B., Jones, N. & Hanley, M. (accepted). The Orientation of Social Attention and the Impact upon Social Cognition: Evidence from Developmental Disorders. Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders.

Hanley, M., McPhillips, M., Mulhern, G. & Riby, D.M. (in press). Spontaneous attention to faces in Asperger Syndrome using ecologically valid static stimuli. Autism

Riby, D. M., Brown, P. H., Jones, N., & Hanley, M. (2012). Faces cause less distraction in Autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorder. 42(4):634-9. PDF icon PDF  

McCormack, T. & Hanley, M. (2011). Children’s Reasoning About the Temporal Order of Past and Future Events. Cognitive Development, 26, 299-314. PDF icon PDF