School of English

This page shows the staff for the University of Nottingham's School of English in the UK. Please see here for the School of Education and English in China and the School of English in Malaysia.

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Dominic Thompson

Associate Professor in Psycholinguistics, Faculty of Arts

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Biography

PhD Psychology (University of Glasgow, UK, 2013); MLitt Linguistics by research (Newcastle University, UK, 2009); BA Linguistics (Newcastle University, UK, 2007).

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ORCiD

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After completing my PhD in Psychology at the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology, University of Glasgow, UK, I moved to the University of Nottingham, UK, in 2014. I spent two years as a Research Fellow in the School of Psychology, where I worked on an ESRC-funded project awarded to Dr Ruth Filik (Nottingham) and Prof Hartmut Leuthold (Tübingen, Germany), using psychophysiology, EEG, and behavioural studies to examine processing of and to sarcasm and irony.

In 2016, I became an Assistant Professor, and in 2023 was promoted to Associate Professor. I teach and research in psychology, psychophysiology, and language, with particular focus on digital communication (e.g., emojis, videogame dialogue, news media), and the interaction between language and emotion.

Since 2016, I have been convenor of the first-year core module Studying Language, and since 2021 have convened distance learning modules on cognition and language, including Calls, Speech, Writing, and Sign Language, and Data-collection and Ethics.

Since 2022, I have been head of Research Integrity and Research Ethics for the Faculty of Arts. For ethics information, guidance, documentation, and application procedures, please visit the Faculty Ethics page. If you have ethics or research integrity questions, you can get in touch with me, or with the Faculty Ethics admin team at ss-ce-ethics@nottingham.ac.uk.

I am on the Advisory Board for Paratexts Seeking Understanding, a £2.4 million grant, funded by the Templeton Religion Trust, awarded to Dr Garrick Allen, Dr Christoph Scheepers, and Dr Kelsie Rodenbiker (Glasgow). I am also a liaison to the scientific team on this unique project, which combines philology with empirical psychology research. Visit the project webpage for more info.

Teaching Summary

I have been teaching undergraduate and postgraduate modules, both on-site and via distance learning, since 2016. In that time I have taught topics covering cognition, memory, psychology of language,… read more

Research Summary

I'm interested in how emotion and language affect each other, as well as the ways we enhance meaning in digital communication such as with emojis and other creative features. To investigate these, I… read more

Selected Publications

I am happy to supervise students at all levels who are interested in psychology, psychophysiology, and language. I have supervised five PhD students to successful completion, as well as dozens of undergraduate and masters dissertation projects.

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I especially welcome projects related to:

-- emotional response and emotional processing

-- digital and online communication, emojis and emoticons

-- behaviour and language in videogames

Methods supervised include:

-- psychophysiology (EDA, EMG, or EEG)

-- eye-tracking or pupillometry

-- priming, paraphrasing

-- behavioural and decision making tasks

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If you are a student with a proposal you would like to discuss or are looking for advice feel free to get in touch!

I have been teaching undergraduate and postgraduate modules, both on-site and via distance learning, since 2016. In that time I have taught topics covering cognition, memory, psychology of language, and experimental design.

I specialise in psycholinguistics, which takes a psychological perspective on how we acquire language, how we store and organise it in our minds, and how it interacts with other cognitive systems. I strive to make all my sessions inclusive and engaging, so I'm always keen to build discussions around student input and student examples. Oh, and you should probably expect to encounter 'occasional' videogame references :)

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Some of my key on-site modules include:

-- Psychology of Language and Language and the Mind - how language is stored, accessed, and produced; how memory and other cognitive processes interact with language; brain architecture; learning difficulties and other cognitive impairments.

-- Language Development - how children acquire elements of language, behaviour, and social interaction, including words, categories, social skills, and joke telling; how we learn to read, and difficulties we can face.

-- Studying Language - introduction to accurate description and analysis of language; data collection in language sciences; psycholinguistic methodologies.

-- Dissertation (undergraduate or masters) - your own individual research project examining elements of language and behaviour.

Some of my key Distance Learning modules include:

-- Calls, Speech, Writing, and Sign Language - exploration of animal communication systems; differences in physiology, behaviour, and cognition between humans and animals; various modes of communication we have evolved to use.

-- Data-collection and Ethics - important considerations for conducting scientific research with rigour and integrity, focusing particularly on language; how to ensure appropriate ethical approval.

-- Psycholinguistics 1 and 2 - learn about models of language processing, statistics, and experimental design, then carry out your own language study.

-- Dissertation or Hexapod - your own individual research project examining elements of language and behaviour.

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If you are studying on a psycholinguistic module, or writing up your psycholinguistic research, I have created a brief guide to the essentials of APA style for citations, references, and formatting.

Current Research

I'm interested in how emotion and language affect each other, as well as the ways we enhance meaning in digital communication such as with emojis and other creative features. To investigate these, I use methodologies from psychology and psycholinguistics - including behavioural tasks, priming, paraphrasing, lexical decision, EDA, EMG, EEG, and eye-tracking.

In my research, I have used EDA (electrodermal activity - skin response) and EMG (electromyography - muscle movements) to examine the impact of sarcastic or ironic messages in comparison to literal equivalents. This revealed that using sarcasm or irony can reduce emotional impact - such as making criticism feel less hurtful, while still delivering that critical feedback.

In a recent study, I used EEG (electroencephalography - brain imaging) to investigate the ways sarcasm is intended and interpreted. Brain imaging data reveal that, while people expect the speaker may intend sarcasm to be both hurtful and amusing, the target of the sarcasm will only feel the hurtfulness.

I am currently engaged with various industry partners. Working with the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), I have a funded project focused on news provision for young, under-represented populations, as well as trust, impartiality, and emotional responses to news articles. I am also collaborating with the videogame developer Playtonic, looking at the significance of sound and text in character dialogue.

Interested in psychology of language?

If you are interested in psychology of language, psychophysiology, or digital communication for undergraduate, postgraduate, or PhD study, or as an academic or industry collaborator, feel free to get in touch!

As a researcher in psychology of language, my work involves designing and building experimental studies, data wrangling, analysis, and data visualisations. If you are interested in psychology or psycholinguistic research, I recommend familiarising yourself with free, open source, cross-platform software. This will enable you to work consistently across different environments and will make it easier to share your work.

For building and running studies, try OpenSesame or PsychoPy. For data wrangling, analysis, and visualisation, take a look at R (with RStudio); particularly useful packages include tidyverse and ggplot2.

School of English

Trent Building
The University of Nottingham
University Park, Nottingham NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 5900
email: english-enquiries@nottingham.ac.uk