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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

  • 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 (Eleanor Clarke, Dr Felicity Wolohan, Dr Nicola van Rijsbergen)
  • 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)

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

Why do the sounds of ASMR make us tingle?

Dr Michel Belyk is interested in the fascinating phenomenon of Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR). This is a perceptual sensory phenomenon, which typically is characterised by people experiencing a “tingling” sensation in the scalp and neck. This project is seeking to understanding how auditory stimuli might trigger this experience

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


Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses

Members of our Social Cognition and Communication Research group run CPD short courses for professionals, which draw on their expertise in research and professional practice. Our courses can support professionals to use evidence-based subject knowledge and skills to optimise communicational and coaching practices.



Get involved

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