Multi-Modal Communication

This research group comprises a number of researchers who explore a range of interaction and communication behaviours which largely consist the following themes:

  • Online communication– psychological correlates; online impressions and judgement accuracy
  • Non-verbal communication– gesture, speech and thought; unconscious bias in gestural communication, facial and non-verbal cues in perceptual processing
  • Interaction with tools– automaticity in typing, object affordances, skill acquisition and learning
  • Language – bilingualism, spatial properties of language
  • Interpersonal communication and deliberation– motivational interviewing, group dynamics, attribution

Our ground-breaking research is supported by funding from sources such as the British Academy and Unilever.

Examples of research

Interpersonal Perception Accuracy

Dr Helen Wall is leading this area of research in which she is explores the accuracy of personality judgements based on first impressions. Within this, she is exploring what behaviours are key to the accuracy of these personality judgements and how different contexts impact upon these.  Here, she is finding that different contexts vary in cue availability (i.e., email, social-networking sites, telephone, face-to-face) and thus shape our first impressions of others. We have recently found that certain online behaviours play a role in certain trait judgements, although these are not always accurate.

Online Behaviour and Interpersonal Perceptions

Dr Linda Kaye and Dr Helen Wall explore the psychological and contextual correlates of particular online behaviours (e.g., emoji usage), as well as understanding how these impact upon personality judgements. Within this, they have recently found personality correlates of emoji use on social networking sites, as well as users’ smiley emojis being associated with a number of positive personality judgements. They are currently furthering this area of enquiry by exploring other online behaviours and the impact these have on personality judgements.

Emotional processing of emoji

Project work is currently exploring the role of language and emotional stimuli (e.g., emoji) on cognitive processes. Specifically, it is aiming to establish the extent to which emoji are actually processed emotionally. Further will be exploring perceptual relationships between space and properties of sound with emoji. This project is in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Madrid and Australian Catholic University.

Rehabilitation and Physical Activity Promotion

Ellie Whittaker is currently completing a PhD, supervised by Dr Andy Levy and Prof Adrian Midgley, in conjunction with Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital NHS Trust to develop, implement and evaluate a communication skills-based intervention to promote physical activity uptake and adherence for cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation patients. This PhD aims to develop a staff training protocol, underpinned by Self-Determination Theory and Motivational Interviewing, which will enable rehabilitation providers to foster an autonomy-supportive rehabilitation environment through their communication skills. It is hoped that this research will generate recommendations for advancing physical activity promotion in amalgamated rehabilitation programmes, which are becoming more common-practice in response to the increasing incidence of comorbidity amongst patients with non-communicable diseases.

Joint performance

Dr Helen Wall in collaboration with Prof. Bernhard Hommel from Leiden University, and Dr Motonori Yamaguchi from Essex University explore the cognitive representations underlying joint performance.  In a series of experiments, they have tested a claim that co-acting individuals share a mental representation of the task (co-representation) in order to coordinate actions in a joint task in a series of experiments.  Little evidence has been obtained to support co-representation under the condition that co-acting individuals have separate action goals (e.g., pressing keys).  However, a new study has provided evidence for shared representations if co-actors share action goals.  The project further investigates what aspects of co-actors’ task representations are actually shared between actors in a joint task as well as what factors contribute to shared task representations.  The researchers hope that the investigation will reveal how to improve joint performance in everyday activities

Group and Individual Decision Making in Judicial Contexts

Dr Joyce Humphries and Dr Helen Wall have recently received funding to investigate the role of defendant and juror characteristics on judgements of guilt and attributions of blame. The overarching objective of this research is to develop our theoretical understanding of jury decision making processes by exploring individual (personality factors), social (group processes) and psychological factors (such as mental illness stigma). Specifically, our work will examine the influence of mental illness type on judgements of guilt and attributions of blame in student and community groups.


Our research has been well received nationally and internationally through the National Press as well as media outlets such as The Conversation.

Get Involved!

Want to take part in our exciting research? We are always looking for keen research participants! You can sign up to our studies through our online SONA system here.