Lecture at Festival of Ideas

June 2017

'The language we use in everyday life reflects, signals and helps construct our personal and social identity, our sense of who we are and how we belong.  In this talk, I will explore some of the less obvious ways in which this can occur focussing in detail on some of the more hidden aspects of the generation of linguistic utterances.  Pauses, hesitations, silences in turn-taking, overlapping responses in conversation often go unnoticed but send out powerful signals about our status, our position, and our identify.  Others respond appropriately in co-operative or competitive ways to form social alliances and groupings, or alternatively in-groups and out-groups. The argument will be that some of the most basic aspects of everyday psycholinguistic processing significantly affect some of the most important social processes in society.

This lecture corresponded with the publication of 'The Psychology of Language and Communication' by Geoffrey Beattie and Andrew Ellis in the Psychology Press & Routledge Classic Editions series.  The books in this series are widely recognised as 'timeless classics' in the field of psychology. This book, first published thirty years ago, was considered highly original and innovative.  It drew on elements from many sub-disciplines, including cognitive and social psychology, psycholinguistics and neuropsychology but offered an approach which breached conventional disciplinary boundaries.