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AffiliationRoom numberTelephone
Professor in the Department of PsychologyL54+44 (0) 191 33 43247
DTP Director in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Health  
Fellow in the Durham Research Methods Centre  
Associate Fellow in the Institute of Advanced Study  
Fellow of the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing +44 (0) 191 33 43247



I joined the Department of Psychology at Durham University in 2013 having previously been a member of academic staff in the School of Psychology at Newcastle University and having completed my PhD at Stirling University.

Since arriving in Durham I have been course director for the MSc Developmental Psychopathology, MA Research Methods (Dev Psy), and co-director for the MSc Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. I have also been research group leader for Developmental Science, and Director of Research for the Department of Psychology. Outside of Psychology I sit on the university Research Management Committee, ESRC Liaison Group and the IAA-ESRC Steering Group. I am also part of the Women's Network of the University and involved in mentoring.

In 2017, with Dr Mary Hanley I founded the Centre for Neurodiversity and Development - visit Centre for Neurodiversity and Development - Durham University for further information.

In August 2018, I became the Director of the NINE DTP - the North East of England and Northern Ireland doctoral training partnership for the social sciences (ESRC funded) - visit for further information.

In September 2020, I was elected as Chair of the Developmental Psychology Section of the British Psychological Society. I am a British Psychological Society Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow. In 2014 I was awarded the Margaret Donaldson Prize by the British Psychological Society (Developmental Psychology Section) for recognition of my cross-syndrome research on social perception / social cognition in neurodevelopmental conditions and my "contribution to theory / innovative methodology".

Research Interests

I am a professor of developmental psychology and Director of the Centre for Neurodiversity & Development interested in neurotypical development, neurodevelopmental conditions, and neurodiversity.

My research predominantly focuses on social perception and social cognition in Williams syndrome (WS) and Autism. Within this area I have used a variety of eye tracking and innovative empirical meothds to understand areas of relative proficiency or challenge (exploring syndrome-specific signatures or cross-syndrome overlaps and having theoretical implications). I have used face perception and the interpretion of social cues from faces as a method of exploring communication strategies and social behaviours / tendancies associated with these conditions. I have more recently become interested in issues of social vulnerability associated with Williams syndrome - such as increased approach to unfamiliar people and awareness of stranger danger. Therefore the work that I conduct has both theoretical and applied relevance.

Linking to the above area of interest I am focusing on the links between social behaviours and other facets of these neurodevelopmental conditions, such as anxiety, sensory processing and executive functions. A large focus of recent research has also been on supporting families of individuals with WS, especially in relation to heightened anxiety.

Linking the two aforementioned areas of research activity I am particularly interested in understanding the needs of the 'whole' individual and how we need to encompass areas of cognition and behaviour in developing theory, but also in providing support and interventions. Understanding the 'whole' also extends to understanding the family system. Work we have conducted on supporting autistic students is especially relevant here as we have pulled together elements of attention, anxiety, and aorusal in the classroom to understand how best to support autistic pupils in achieving their best (see Centre website and the 'Triple A' resource developed from our underpinning research in this area). 

Research groups

Esteem Indicators

  • 2019: Chair Elect - BPS Developmental Psychology Section:
  • 2017: ESRC Grant Assessment Panel A member:


Chapter in book

  • Riby, D M (2011). Face Processing and Social Interactions. In Developmental Disabilities across the Lifespan. Farran, E. & Karmiloff-Smith, A. Oxford University Press.
  • Riby, D M, Bruce, V & Jawaid, A (2011). Everyone’s friend? The case of Williams syndrome. In Pathological Altruism. Oakley, B., Knafo, A., Madhavan, G. & Wilson, D. S. Ocford University Press.
  • Riby, D M & Porter, M (2010). Williams syndrome. In ). Developmental Disorders & Interventions: Advances in Child Development and Behavior. Holmes, J. Academic Press.
  • Brock, J, Einav, S & Riby, D M (2008). The other end of the spectrum? Social cognition in Williams syndrome. In Social cognition: Development, Neuroscience and Autism. Reid, V. & Striano, T Blackwell.

Edited book

  • van Herwegen, J & Riby, D M (2014). Neurodevelopmental Disorders: Research Challenges and Solutions. Psychology Press.

Journal Article

Supervision students