Catherine McBride

senior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2017/2018
discipline Psychology
Professor, Psychology Department; Associate Dean for Research, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Research project

Towards a Global Understanding of Dyslexia: Cognitive-Perceptual, Cognitive-Linguistic, Socio-Cultural, and Neurobiological Aspects


I propose to carry out a comparative study on conceptualizations of dyslexia across cultures, languages, and scripts. My primary goals are to characterize understanding of dyslexia at this point in history with a sampling of countries that have recognized this problem (description) and then to determine precisely how to define dyslexia such that it means something equivalent across different languages, scripts, and contexts (prescription). Two primary practical objectives worldwide are (i) to determine how to identify those at-risk for reading difficulties and (ii) to optimize remediation of such individuals. To what extent are generalized definitions applicable across languages and orthographies?


Dyslexia has been characterized partly as a social phenomenon and is partly understood in relation to biological and cognitive-linguistic markers. Because researchers often tend to think of dyslexia primarily in relation to their mother tongue, there is room for particular biases related to the phenomenon within a specific script or language. The proposed study will explore the concept of dyslexia cross-culturally so as to characterize the universal and distinct features of word recognition difficulties in children learning to read different orthographies.


One goal is to come up with a comprehensive model of dyslexia that begins with an exhaustive list of associated perceptual, cognitive, and linguistic abilities to consider. Dyslexia will also be reviewed in relation to neurobiology. Broader social/governmental correlates of dyslexia, such as notions of general learning disabilities, timing of reading instruction and testing, governmental resources, and approaches to detection (e.g., via psychiatrists, educational psychologists, teachers) in different countries will also be incorporated. Thus, the overarching objective will be to explain dyslexia and possible remediation techniques from the perspectives of cognitive-perceptual, cognitive-linguistic, socio-cultural, and neural-biological correlates. This literature review will be supplemented with interviews with children diagnosed with dyslexia, teachers, parents, educational psychologists, and others with experience with the disorder. These interviews will supplement the empirical definitions and findings on dyslexia to give a more nuanced understanding of the phenomenon across cultures.





Catherine McBride is Professor of Psychology at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. She holds a Ph.D in Developmental Psychology from the University of Southern California. Her main research interests are literacy development and impairment from a global perspective, social and cognitive development, language and reading development, parenting and psychosocial outcomes.




Selected publications


The Routledge International Handbook of Early Literacy Education: A Contemporary Guide to Literacy Teaching and Interventions in a Global Context, with N. Kucircova, C. Snow & V. Grover (eds), Routledge, Oxford, 2017.


'The Relation of Maternal Literate Mediation Strategies and Socioemotional Comments to Korean Children’s Hangul Reading', with J.R. Cho & D. Lin, Applied Psycholinguistics, vol. 38, no.1, 2017, pp. 155-179.


Children's Literacy Development: A Cross-cultural Perspective on Learning to Read and Write, Routledge, Oxford, 2016.


'Is Chinese Special? Four Aspects of Chinese Literacy Acquisition that Might Distinguish Learning Chinese from Learning Alphabetic Orthographies', Educational Psychology Review, vol. 28, no. 3, 2016, pp 523–549.


'Chinese Kindergarteners Learn to Read Characters Analytically', with L. Yin, Psychological Science, vol. 26, no. 4, 2015, pp. 424-432.




senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2015/2016
Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS)
discipline Law
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2014/2015
Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS)
discipline Literature
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2016/2017
Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS)
discipline Sociology and Social Policy
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2018/2019
Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS)
discipline Literature