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Social Cognition and Communication

We are a peculiarly social species. Maintaining large and cooperative social groups allowed us to outcompete the larger and stronger Neanderthals. Maintaining these communities requires us to understand the minds of others and ensure that we ourselves are understood.

The Social Cognition and Communication Research Group investigates how human beings understand each others’ minds, how we use speech, gesture, and facial expressions to communicate, and how together this allows us to influence the minds of others.

Current research projects

  • Exploring social cognition in virtual reality (Dr Liam Cross and Dr Gray Atherton)
  • Are emoji emotional? (Dr Linda Kaye)
  • The potential impact of extra-legal factors on jury decision making (Dr Joyce Humphries)
  • The impact of loneliness on processing social cues (Dr Felicity Wolohan)
  • A community-based approach to making behaviour more sustainable: uncovering implicit attitudes to climate change and assessing their significance for climate action. (Prof Geoff Beattie & Dr Laura McGuire).
  • A multimodal approach to understanding lies and deceit in various real-world contexts: the implications for effective lie detection (Prof Geoff Beattie)
  • The implicit association between fonts and expressive qualities (Dr Andrea Piovesan)
  • Online health messaging- the role of personality traits and social media behaviours (Dr Linda Kaye, Dr Helen Wall & Dr Lauren McGale)

Featured projects

Are emoji emotional?

Dr Linda Kaye’s work is exploring the emotional processing of emoji, and how this corresponds to language. Specifically, it is establishing the extent to which emoji are actually processed emotionally.

Find out more Live well online

VR, Social Synchrony and Anthromorphism

Dr Gray Atherton and Dr Liam Cross have recently developed applications that measure visual perspective-taking towards given agents in the virtual world. This has allowed for testing the effects of social synchrony on the ability to take the perspective of other agents.

Rethinking Body Language

Professor Geoff Beattie’s research on multimodal communication has shown that spontaneous iconic gestures are an integral part of speaking and convey core parts of the underlying semantic message.

Understanding human interaction to help tackle societal issues




Get involved

There are various ways you can get involved in our Social Cognition and Communication research.