Human expression is open-ended, versatile and diverse. It ranges from ordinary language use to using dress codes, from exaggerated displays of affection to micro-movements that aid coordination. Some expressions consist in giving evidence about what one means--they are communicative (key words: 'ostensive comunication', 'pragmatics', 'Gricean intentions'). How is this type of evidence processed? How does it actually affect the beliefs of the audience's? 

We currently work on the following projects:

Communication and pragmatics 

  • Pragmatics of graphs

This project aims to investigate how people interpret graphs, and specifically to establish the similarities and differences between the cognitive processes at work when interpreting graphs and those at play in verbal understanding; it investigates the hypothesis that graphs are interpreted by way of recovering what the graph-designer wants to communicate. The project runs in collaboration with Prof. Nausicaa Pouscoulous from University College London.

Contacts: Francesca Bonalumi, Ákos Szegőfi

  • Evolution of communication

What makes human communication so rich and versatile? How did the cognitive capacities of human communication evolve? How are these capacities related to languages?

Contacts: Christophe Heintz, Thom Scott-Phillips

  • Plausible deniability

This project aims to investigate the strategic uses of communication, with a particular focus on factors that make speakers accountable for the cognitive effect their communicative behaviour has had on the audience.

Contact: Francesca Bonalumi


Epistemic Vigilance and Misinformation

Why do people believe misinformation? Or do they? How gullible are humans? This project aims to investigate the spread of dubious beliefs among people. For this, we use the framework of epistemic vigilance; the set of human capacities assessing the truth-value of communicated information. We employ experimental methods to understand the underlying psychological processes, and also socio-historical analysis to contextualise the communication environments in which our minds function. 

Contact: Ákos Szegőfi