Interacting with the World

Communication and language

How do we select words when we speak?

How do our emotions influence what we say and how we say things?

  • What happens to our language abilities when we can’t hear?
  • How is language used to influence others?
  • What happens when we have a word at the tip of our tongue?
  • How does tone of voice impact reactions and motivations in others?
  • How do bilingual speakers manage to stay in control of their two languages?
  • What are the best ways to communicate the risks of life changing issues such as health behaviours and climate change?

Our internationally recognised members of staff working on these and other language related questions use a range of techniques to study the psychology of language.

Methodological expertise ranges from traditional techniques such as measuring how long it takes to produce or perceive language (known as reaction time studies), to eye movement studies while reading or listening to language, through to electro-physiological measurements of language processing. We also have expertise in acoustically analysing speech.

We explore language related processes in young children, adolescents, and young and older adults. Some of us also study how language is processed in special populations including brain lesion patients.

Our research often covers related areas such as risk, judgement and decision makingcross-cultural studies, emotion, and motivation.



Supermarket shelves covered with rows of brightly coloured cans and bottles of drinks.
Podcast: Food Labels, the COVID-19 Vaccine, and Scientific Peer-Review: It's All About Communication

In this podcast we talk to Dr Dawn Holford, whose research looks at understanding how individuals make sense of information presented numerically – such as in percentages – as opposed to information that is presented verbally or in written words.

Listen to the podcast