Portrait of Lauren McGuinness

Lauren McGuinness

Postgraduate Researcher


Starting in 2017, Lauren completed both her BSc in Psychology and MSc in Developmental Psychology at the University of Kent. She is now a postgraduate researcher at the Kent Child Development Unit in the School of Psychology.

Research interests

Lauren is primarily interested in the development of conversational abilities and pragmatic language use in both neurotypical and autistic children.

Her PhD research aims to further our theoretical understanding of the nature of children's conversational turn-taking. To do this, she will investigate how 'we-intentionality', which is defined as the implicit understanding between two people that they are engaging in something together, can facilitate back-and-forth conversation. That is, for a large proportion of conversational switches, the degree to which it is appropriate for a person to ‘take over’ the conversational floor may crucially depend on whether his/her new contribution ‘builds on’ the content of the previous turn and develops the co-constructed topic.

The socio-cognitive difficulties which comprise part of the diagnostic criteria for autism fit with the proposal that autistic individuals might struggle to think in terms of ‘we’ as opposed to ‘I’. If so, they might not experience a conversational topic as ‘something that they are co-constructing together with a partner’. This may therefore underpin the conversational timing difficulties often exhibited by autistic individuals. 





  • Economic and Social Research Council (SeNSS 1+3 Studentship)

Honours and Awards

  • The Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence (2017)
  • The Jean Piaget Prize for the Highest Overall Mark in MSc Developmental Psychology (2021) 

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