Dr Mary Dyson
Areas of interestI have a background in psychology, which has influenced my work within typography and graphic communication in a number of ways. I have focused on users and their interactions with documents, not the technology. My early research looked at reading from screen and the effects of typographic variables on reading speed, reading strategies, and comprehension, closely related to legibility. This developed into looking at how we read, which required a focus on individual letters and typeface characteristics. I have also explored what happens to people’s perceptions after they receive design training.
Postgraduate supervisionOver a period of thirty or so years, I have supervised around twenty PhD students whose research spans a range of topics. These supervisory experiences have been incredibly rewarding, challenging, stimulating and have led to some valuable friendships. They have also informed and shaped my approach to interdisciplinary work, helping remove barriers between my psychological approach and design practice.
TeachingMy teaching covered the theory of typography and research methods, drawing heavily on psychology.
BackgroundI studied psychology as an undergraduate and then went on to complete a PhD in auditory perception. Soon after this, through serendipity, I became a lecturer in the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication at the University of Reading. The transition seems somewhat unusual, but the position was linked to the field of 'electronic publishing', as it was called in the 1980s. My research training included working with computers and these skills were helpful in my new role.
Academic qualificationsPhD, University of Reading
BA in Psychology, University of Reading
Professional bodies/affiliationsI am on the editorial board for the journals Visible Language and Information Design Journal.
(The publications below are those that are not in CentAUR.)
Dyson, M.C. (2020). 'Does perceptual disfluency theory represent a significant challenge to a legibility researcher?', Hyphen, 12(18), pp. 17–35
Mastoridis, N. Sioki & M.C. Dyson (eds), Design for visual communication: challenges and priorities (pp. 3–20). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Dyson, M.C. (2019). 'Visual communication: Identity crisis or identity achievement', in K. Mastoridis, N. Sioki & M.C. Dyson (eds), Design for visual communication: challenges and priorities (pp. 3–20). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Dyson, M.C. (2018). Legibility: how and why typography affects ease of reading. Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Diseño, México
Dyson, M.C. (2017). 'Information design research methods', in A. Black, P. Luna, O. Lund & S. Walker (eds), Information design: research and practice (pp. 435–449). London: Routledge