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Dr Alex Gillespie


For publications click here|

Associate Professor in Social Psychology

Co-Editor of Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour|

Awarded LSE Teaching Prize| in 2014

Social psychology, for me, begins with recognizing that people and groups have different perspectives. Key questions include: How do we bridge these divergences of perspective and achieve our collective life? How are these social interactions of difference constitutive of human self-reflection, social identity and creativity? And, more pragmatically, what technologies can we develop to study and intervene in these interactions?

Areas of Expertise

Intersubjectivity: Misunderstandings and perspective-taking 

Distrust: Conflict, contact and dismissing other points of view

Communication Technology: Distributing and assisting cognition 

Dialogue: (Non) Transformative dialogues and Internal dialogues

Methodology: Studying divergences of perspective

Recent invited talks: Sao Paulo (22/6/14), LSE |(20/10/2014), Chicago |(18/11/2014)

LSE Experts Page| 

I was born in Norway, grew up in Ireland, did a B.A. in Psychology at Trinity College (Dublin), an MSc at the LSE and a PhD at the University of Cambridge. After finishing my PhD I lectured at the University of Cambridge for two years before moving to the University of Stirling. I joined the Psychology@LSE Department in 2011.

My interest in divergences of perspective began in 1996 when, equipped with psychological measures, I went to Malawi to study the coping strategies of returned refugees - all I found was a big gap| between our measures and the lived reality of refugees.

My MSc dissertation examined divergences of perspective between the two communities in Northern Ireland, and my PhD| examined divergences of perspective between tourists and tribal people in Northern India.

More recently I have been examining divergences of perspective in the Cuban Missile Crisis, in the Northern Rock bank run, in the interaction between immigrants and nationals, director/follower experiments and in care-giver and care receiver interactions. For more on my research, see my research profile.
I review for a wide range of publishers and journals. I am on the editorial boards of Culture & Psychology|,Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science|, Papers on Social Representations|,The Journal of Social, Evolutionary, & Cultural Psychology|, Journal of Integrated Social Sciences| and the British Journal of Social Psychology|.

I am a member of the ESRC college of reviewers, a European Science Foundation reviewer, a member of the Irish Research Council's Outer International Assessment Board, and an external assessor for the Romanian Research Assessment Exercise.

My research assumes that the social world is pluralistic, that each organism, person and community has a distinctive perspective or worldview which stemming from their interests and practices. I have studied the divergences of perspective in many contexts, but it seems clear to me that we lack good methods|

Divergences of perspective, I have argued, are central to identity (eg|, eg|, eg|), the development of our higher mental functions such as self-reflection|, language|, our internal dialogues| and even agency|

How do we overcome these divergences of perspective? My view is that movement is the answer. We have neglected movement; movement between social situations, life stages, and roles. This movement, I have tried to show, is the basis of our limited understanding of one another (eg|, eg|). 

Divergences of perspective are not always accidental. Sometimes people try to create misleading impressions|. Sometimes people don't want to understand the other, preferring to dismiss their point of view. People represent the other as crazy or un-trustworthy (eg|, eg|, eg|) – thus avoiding the need to engage with their perspective. 

My epistemological stance is pragmatist|, and accordingly, I evaluate knowledge in terms of its practical consequences. To this end I have worked with colleagues to produce a package to facilitate communication with people with communication disorders (funded by the ESRC and winner of an Advancing Healthcare Award 2010) and a novel technology called Guide |(with CSO funding, 2008-9 & 2010-14) which simulates the interactive verbal support provided by carers to people with cognitive impairments and experts to novices to enable independent activity (eg|, eg|).

Other projects I have been involved in include: Organising a European Science Foundation workshop, setting up the on-line and open-access Frederic Bartlett Archive, organising the a conference on the Dialogical Self, and having some fun with Stanley Milgram's cyranoids at Generator Projects| in Dundee, the Thursday Club| in Goldsmiths Graduate School, and the St Unicorn's Trust event. I also recently gave ap talk at the Salon Project in the Barbican|.

I teach on Contemporary Social and Cultural Psychology (PS400) and Social Psychology of Public Communication (PS429). I also supervise MSc dissertations and PhD theses.

Current PhD supervision

Kevin Corti

'Using cyranoids to investigate meta-perspectives and their role in social bargaining behaviour'

Donna Baille

Moral decision making among Israeli soldiers'

Brett Heasman

'Perspective taking between people with autism and their caregivers'

Future PhD supervision

If you are interested in working with me on a PhD, you can contact me in advance of making a formal application|. I'm happy to discuss either a specific proposal or relative merits of two or three potential proposals. In either case, send me |something short and focused and include your CV

For a more complete and up to date list of publications, please click here|.

Gillespie, A., & Cornish, F. (in press). Sensitizing Questions: A Method to Facilitate Analyzing the Meaning of an Utterance. Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science, doi:10.1007/s12124-014-9265-3

Reader, T. W., Gillespie, A., & Roberts, J. (in press). Patient complaints in healthcare systems: a systematic review and coding taxonomy. BMJ Quality & Safety, doi:10.1136/bmjqs-2013-002437

Wagoner, B. & Gillespie, A. (In press). Sociocultural Mediators of Remembering:

An Extension of Bartlett’s Method of Repeated Reproduction. British Journal of Social Psychology.

Corti, K., & Gillespie, A. (in press). Revisiting Milgram’s Cyranoid Method: Experimenting With Hybrid Human Agents. The Journal of Social Psychology, doi:10.1080/00224545.2014.959885

O’Neill, B. & Gillespie, A. (in press). Assistive technology for cognition. London: Psychology Press.

Howarth, C., Cornish, F. & Gillespie, A. (In press). Making communities: Diversity, movement and interdependence. In Gordon Sammut, Eleni Andreouli, George Gaskell and Jaan Valsiner (Eds), Handbook of Social Representations. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Kadianaki, I., O’Sullivan-Lago, R. & Gillespie, A. (In press). Identity transformation in intercultural encounters: A dialogical analysis. In Fred Dervin and Karen Risager (Eds.), Identity and interculturality. London, UK: Routledge.

Cornish, F., Gillespie, A. & Zittoun, T. (In press). Collaborative analysis of qualitative data. In Uwe Flick (Ed.), The SAGE handbook of qualitative data analysis. London: Sage.

Gillespie, A. & Cornish, F. (In press). The Northern Rock bank run: An analysis of communication within a distrust sequence. In Ivana Markova and Per Linell (Eds.), Dialogical approaches to trust in communication. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.


Reader, T. & Gillespie, A. (2014). Patient neglect in 21st century healthcare institutions: a community health psychology perspective. Journal of Health Psychology, 19, 72-78.

Gillespie, A., Reader, T., Cornish, F. & Campbell, C. (2014). Beyond ideal speech situations: constrained communication can be adaptive in healthcare contexts. Journal of Health Psychology

Gülerce, A., Baerveldt, C., Gillespie, A., Martin, J., Raggatt, P., & Zittoun, T. (2014). A polylogue? Where and how to move with and in dialogue? New Ideas in Psychology, 32, 80-87.

Glavaneau, V., Gillespie, A. & Valsiner, J (2014). Rethinking creativity: Contributions from social and cultural psychology. London: Routledge.

Gillespie, A. & Martin, J. (2014). Position exchange theory: A socio-material basis for discursive and psychological positioning. New Ideas in Psychology, 32, 73-79.

Moore, H., & Gillespie, A. (2014). The caregiving bind: Concealing the demands of informal care can undermine the caregiving identity. Social Science & Medicine, 116, 102–109.


Gillespie, A. & Zittoun, T. (2013). Meaning making in motion: Bodies and minds moving through institutional and semiotic structures. Culture & Psychology, 19, 518-532.

Whittaker, L. and Gillespie, A. (2013), Social Networking Sites: Mediating the Self and its Communities. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 23, 492-504.

Gillespie, A. (2013). Nuclear brinkmanship: A study in non-linguistic communication. Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science, 47, 492-508.

Reader, T. W., & Gillespie, A. (2013). Patient neglect in healthcare institutions: A systematic review and conceptual model. BMC health services research, 13(1), 156.

Best, C., O’Neill, B. & Gillespie, A. (2013). Assistive technology for cognition: Enabling activities of daily living. Maria Manuela Cruz-Cunha, Isabel Maria Miranda & Patricia Gonclaves (Eds.), Handbook of research on ICTs for human-centred healthcare and social care services (Volume 1). Hershey, PA: IGI Global. (pp 112-129)

Martin, J. & Gillespie, A. (2013). Position exchange theory and personhood. Moving between positions and perspectives within sociocultural and psychological space and time. In Jack Martin and Mark H. Birkhard (Eds), The psychology of personhood. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. (pp 147-164)

O'Neill, B., Best, C., Gillespie, A., & O'Neill, L. (2013). Automated prompting technologies in rehabilitation and at home. Social Care and Neurodisability, 4(1), 17-28.


Gillespie, A. (2012). Position exchange: The social development of agency. New Ideas in Psychology, 30, 32-46.

Marková, I., & Gillespie, A. (Eds.). (2011). Trust and conflict: representation, culture and dialogue. London: Routledge.

Gillespie, A., Best, C. & O’Neill, B. (2012). Cognitive function and assistive technology for cognition: A systematic review. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 18, 1-19.

Gillespie, A., Howarth, C., & Cornish, F. (2012). Four problems for researchers using social categories. Culture & Psychology, 18, 391–402.

Cooper, M., Chak, A., Cornish, F., & Gillespie, A. (2012). Dialogue: Bridging personal, community, and social transformation. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 53, 70–93.

Gillespie, A., Kadianaki, I. & O’Sullivan-Lago, R. (2012). Encountering alterity: Geographic and semantic movements. In J. Valsiner (Ed.), Oxford handbook of culture and psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Gillespie, A. (2011). Dialogical dynamics of trust and distrust in the Cuban Missile Crisis. In Ivana Marková and Alex Gillespie (Eds.), Trust and conflict: Representation, culture and dialogue. London: Routledge.

Gillespie, A. (2011). Contact without transformation: The context, process and content of distrust. In Ivana Marková and Alex Gillespie (Eds.), Trust and conflict: Representation, culture and dialogue. London: Routledge.

Moore, H., Jasper, C. & Gillespie, A. (2011). Moving between frames: The basis of the stable and dialogical self. Culture & Psychology, 17, 510-519.

Wagoner, B., Gillespie, A., Valsiner, J., Zittoun, T., Salgado, J. & Simao, L. (2011). Repairing ruptures: Multivocality of analyses. In M. Märtsin, B. Wagoner, E-L. Aveling, I. Kadianaki & L. Whittaker (Eds.), Dialogicality in focus: Challenges to theory, method and application. New York: Nova Publishers.

Jasper, C., Moore, H., Whittaker, L., & Gillespie, A. (2011). Methodological approaches to studying the dialogical self. In H Hermans and T Gieser, (Eds). Handbook on the dialogical self. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Zittoun, T. & Gillespie, A. (2011). Using diaries and self-writings as data in psychological research. In S. Surgan & J. Valsiner (Eds.), Developing methods in psychology. New York: Transaction Publishers.

Zittoun, T., Aveling, E-L., Gillespie, A., & Cornish, F. (2011). People in transitions in worlds in transition: Ambivalence in the transition to womanhood during WWII. In A. Bastos, K. Uriko and J. Valsiner (Eds.), Cultural Dynamics of Women's Lives. Rome: Carlo Amore Edizioni.

Gillespie, A. & Richardson, B. (2011). Exchanging social positions: Enhancing intersubjective coordination within a joint task. European Journal of Social Psychology, 41, 608-616.

Gillespie, A. (2011). Foreword. In M. Märtsin, B. Wagoner, E-L. Aveling, I. Kadianaki & L. Whittaker (Eds.), Dialogicality in focus: Challenges to theory, method and application. New York: Nova Publishers.

Turner, K., Gillespie, A. & McMichael, L. (2011). The rigorous development of prompting dialogues. Journal of Biomedical Informatics, 44, 713-727.

Marková, I. & Gillespie, A. (Eds.) (2011). Trust and conflict: Representation, culture and dialogue. London: Routledge. 


Gillespie, A., Murphy, J. & Place, M. (2010). Divergences of perspective between people with aphasia and their family caregivers. Aphasiology, 24, 1559-1575.

Gillespie, A. & Cornish, F. (2010). What can be said? Identity as a constraint on knowledge production. Papers on Social Representations, 19, 5.1-5.13.

Martin, J. & Gillespie, A. (2010). A neo-Meadian approach to human agency: Relating the social and the psychological in the ontogenesis of perspective-coordinating persons. Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science, 44, 252-272.

O'Neill, B. Moran, K. & Gillespie, A. (2010). Scaffolding rehabilitation behaviour using a voice mediated assistive technology for cognition. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, 20, 509-527.

Gillespie, A. & Cornish, F. (2010). Intersubjectivity: Toward a dialogical analysis. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 40, 19-46.

Gillespie, A. & Zittoun, T. (2010). Using resources: Conceptualising the mediation and reflective use of tools and signs. Culture & Psychology, 16, 37-62.

Gillespie, A. (2010). Self. In N. Azari et al. (Eds), Encyclopaedia of Sciences and Religions. New York: Springer.

Gillespie, A. (2010). Editorial: The message of the medium: Distributing academic knowledge in the Digital Age. Europe's Journal of Psychology, 2/2010, 1-6.

Gillespie, A. (2010). The dialogical turn: Turning the corner. Theory & Psychology, 20, 461-463.

Gillespie, A. & Zittoun, T. (2010). Studying the movement of thought. In A. Toomela and J. Valsiner (Eds.), Methodological thinking in psychology: 60 years gone astray. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc.

Sammut, G. & Gillespie, A. (2011). Editorial: Cultural encounters and social solidarity. Papers on Social Representations, 20, 1.1-1.7

Gillespie, A. (2010). Autobiography and identity. In R. Terrill, The Cambridge Companion to Malcolm X. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Cornish, F. & Gillespie, A. (2009). A pragmatist approach to the problem of knowledge in health psychology. Journal of Health Psychology, 14, 800-809.

Zittoun, T., Gillespie, A. & Cornish, F. (2009). Fragmentation or differentiation: Questioning the crisis in psychology. Integrative Psychological and Behavioural Science, 43, 104-115.

Gillespie, A. (2009). Returning to James: A methodological challenge. Psychology & Society, 2, 33-35.

O'Neill, B. & Gillespie, A. (2009). Framework for conceptualisation of assistive technology for cognition. Brain Impairment, 10, 2, 210.

O'Neill, B. & Gillespie, A. (2009). Theory and efficacy of a voice mediated assistive technology to support performance of complex sequences: A series of eight single-n studies. Brain Impairment, 10, 212-213.

Gillespie, A. (2009). The intersubjective nature of symbols. In B. Wagoner (Ed.), Symbolic Transformations. London: Routledge.


Gillespie, A. (2008). Social representations, alternative representations and semantic barriers. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 38, 376-391.

Aveling, E-L. & Gillespie, A. (2008). Negotiating multiplicity: Adaptive asymmetries within second generation Turks' 'society of mind'. Journal of Constructivist Psychology, 21, 200-222.

O'Neill, B. & Gillespie, A. (2008). Simulating naturalistic instruction: The case for a voice mediated interface for assistive technology for cognition. Journal of Assistive Technology, 2, 22-31.

Gillespie, A. Cornish, F., Aveling, E. & Zittoun, T. (2008). Conflicting community commitments. Journal of Community Psychology, 36, 35-52.


Zittoun, T., Baucal, A., Cornish, F. & Gillespie, A. (2007). Collaborative research, knowledge and emergence. Integrative Psychological and Behavioural Science, 42, 208-217.

Gillespie, A. (2007). Collapsing Self/Other positions: Identification through differentiation. British Journal of Social Psychology, 46, 579-595.

Zittoun, T, Gillespie, A., Cornish, F. & Psaltis, C. (2007). The metaphor of the triangle in theories of human development. Human Development, 50, 208-229.

Marková, I., Linell, P., & Gillespie, A. (2007). Trust and distrust in society. In I. Marková & A. Gillespie, Trust and distrust: Sociocultural perspectives. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc.

Gillespie, A. (2007). Trust in everyday interaction. In Ivana Marková and Alex Gillespie (Eds.), Trust and distrust: Sociocultural perspectives. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc.

Cornish, F., Gillespie, A., Zittoun, T. & Baucal, A. (2007). Editorial. Integrative Psychological and Behavioural Science, 42, 121-123.

Wagoner, B., Gillespie, A. & Duveen, G. (2007). Bartlett in the digital age. The Psychologist, 20, 680-681.

Gillespie, A. O'Neill, B. (2007) A novel assistive technology for cognition to aid performance of complex behavioural sequences. Brain Impairment, 8, 187.

Gillespie, A. (2007). The intersubjective dynamics of trust, distrust and manipulation. In Ivana Marková and Alex Gillespie (Eds.), Trust and distrust: Sociocultural perspectives. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc.

Gillespie, A. (2007). In the other we trust: Buying souvenirs in Ladakh, north India. In Ivana Marková and Alex Gillespie (Eds.), Trust and distrust: Sociocultural perspectives. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc.

Zittoun, T., Cornish, F., Gillespie, A. & Aveling, E.-L. (2007). Using culture: A case study of a diarist's meaning-making during World War II. In T. Sugiman, K. Gergen & W. Wagner (Eds.), Meaning in action. London: Springer Verlag.

Gillespie, A. (2007). The social psychology of self-reflection. In J. Valsiner and A. Rosa (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Sociocultural Psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gillespie, A. (2007). Time, self and the other: The striving tourist. In L. Simao and J. Valsiner (Eds.) Otherness in question: Development of the self. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing, Inc.

Cornish, F., Zittoun, T. & Gillespie, A. (2007). A cultural psychological reflection on collaborative research. Forum: Qualitative Social Research,8, 3, art. 21.

Zittoun, T., Gillespie, A., Cornish, F. & Baucal, A. (2007). Special issue: The sociocultural psychology of collaborative research. Integrative Psychological and Behavioural Science (Vol. 42, 4)

Marková, I. & Gillespie, A. (Eds.) (2007). Trust and distrust: Sociocultural perspectives. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc.


Gillespie, A. (2006). Games and the development of perspective taking. Human Development, 49, 87-92.

Gillespie, A. (2006). Becoming other: From social interaction to self-reflection. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc.

Gillespie, A. (2006). Descartes' demon: A dialogical analysis of 'Meditations on First Philosophy.' Theory & Psychology, 16, 761-781.

Gillespie, A. (2006). Tourist photography and the reverse gaze. Ethos: Journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology, 34, 343-366.


Gillespie, A. (2005). G.H. Mead: Theorist of the social act. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 35, 19-39.

Gillespie, A. (2005). Malcolm X and his autobiography: Identity development and self-narration. Culture & Psychology, 11, 77-88.

Gillespie, A. (2005). Giving the future form: Non-reflective and reflective uses of symbolic resources. In A. Gülerce, I. Steauble, A. Hofmeister, G. Saunders and J. Kaye (Eds.), Contemporary theorising in psychology. Toronto: Captus Press.

Gillespie, A. (2004). The Mystery of GH Mead's first book. Theory & Psychology, 14, 423-425.

Gillespie, A. (2003). Surplus & supplementarity: Moving between the dimensions of otherness. Culture & Psychology, 9, 209-220.

Zittoun, T., Duveen, G., Gillespie, A., Ivinson, G. & Psaltis, C. (2003). The use of symbolic resources in developmental transitions. Culture & Psychology, 9, 415-448.

Gillespie, A., Peltzer, K. & MacLachlan, M. (2000). Returning refugees: Psychosocial problems and mediators of mental health among Malawian returnees. Journal of Mental Health, 9, 165-178.

Gillespie, A., Best, C. & O’Neill, B. (2012). Cognitive function and assistive technology for cognition: A systematic review. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 18, 1-19.


Alex Giliespie 
Dr Alex Gillespie

Social psychology, for me, begins with divergences of perspective.