Dr Peter Edward McKenna

    PhD, MRes, BA(Hons)

    Peter completed both his Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Research at the University of Strathclyde (Glasgow) between 2007-2012. In 2017, Peter was awarded a doctorate in Psychology by Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.

    Research interests

    A technophile, avid gamer and sci-fi fan, Peter’s research interests lie in the psychological and societal impact of technology. This includes the mediatory effects of videogame play on cognition, human-robot interaction, and technologies for special populations such as autism-spectrum disorder (ASD).

    Peter is currently a research associate on the EPSRC funded SoCoRo project (www.socoro.net). He and the team are developing a socially competent robot to teach adults with an ASD social and employment skills.

    Funding Awards

    James-Watt PhD Studentship 2013-2016 (Approx. 60K)
    BPS Developmental Section Annual Conference Bursary 2014: Student Bursary Award (£160)
    EPS Grindley Grants for Conference Attendance 2014 (£500)


    • McKenna, P. (2017, August). Embodied Metaphors and Computing Education.EARLI Conference, Tampere (Finland).
    • McKenna, P. (2014, July). Planning to move or moving to plan? Children's embodied executive functioning and gestural interfaces. 29th Annual PsyPag Postgraduate Conference, Cardiff.
    • McKenna, P., & Rajendran, G. (2014, April). Methodical frog hopping. Edinburgh International Science Festival, Edinburgh.
    • McKenna, P. (2013, September). Are childhood executive functions embodied? Children and Technology Talk, Autism Research Centre, University of Cambridge.


  • Manches, A. McKenna, P.E., Robertson, J., & Rajendran, G., (in preparation, 2017). Embodied Metaphors for Computing Education.
  • McKenna, P.E. Aylett, R.S., Broz, F., Ghosh, A., Lim, M., & Rajendran, G. (submitted, 2017). Do you think I approve of that? Designing facial expressions for a robot. Ninth International Conference of Social Robotics (ICSR; Tsukuba, Japan).
  • McKenna, P. E., Glass, A., Rajendran, G., & Corley, M. (2015). Strange words: Autistic traits and the processing of non-literal language. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 45(11), 3606-3612. DOI: 10.1007/s10803-015-2508-4
  • McKenna, P., Lemon, O., Corley, M., Boa, D., & Rajendran, G. (2014). One step at a time: Multimodal interfaces and children's executive functioning. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the IEEE conference on development and learning and epigenetic robotics (IEEE ICDL-EPIROB 2014).
  • McKenna, P. Are executive functions embodied? A brief theoretical and empirical discussion. (2014). PsyPag Quarterly, 91, 34-39.”

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