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Learn how to communicate better at Dundee's next Café Science

15 April 2016

If you’re curious about the science behind successful communication, then this Monday’s Café Science event is for you.

From project failures and medical errors to divorce, the consequences of poor communication can be disastrous.

Rather than focusing on the negative aspects however, Dr Janet McLean – a Lecturer in Psychology at Abertay University – will discuss effective communication instead, and look at ways in which we can achieve it.

Giving examples from her own research – which looks at everyday interactions between two people – she will outline how each person in a conversation can contribute to better communication.

She will also describe the development of communication skills in children and consider whether the findings from interpersonal research can be applied to communication at a more society-wide level.

Speaking ahead of Monday’s event, Dr Janet McLean said:

“We can probably all think of experiences where we‘ve been interacting with another person but have actually felt like we aren’t communicating, or even having a successful exchange of information. This often leads to information being misunderstood, but can also lead to feelings of frustration and even perhaps mistrust.

“Much of my research looks at how well speakers align with each other – from the words they use, to the syntax that underlies the structure of their sentences. One of the things I’ll talk about on Monday, in addition to explaining more about this, will be audience design, where speakers think about what their listener knows and change the content of their speech accordingly. I’ll also describe the differences between adult and child speakers.

“In some of our ongoing research, we’re looking at the idea that the alignment we see in pairs of speakers could apply to society-level communication. This research looks at whether perceived differences between different groups in society leads to lower levels of alignment and hence less successful communication.

“So communication is important on all sorts of levels. It’s important when you have information that you want to convey, but it’s also important in terms of making you feel connected with the other person.”

‘Heads or tails: do you know what I mean?’ will take place at 7pm in Avery & Co, 34 South Tay Street on Monday 18 April.

Everyone welcome and entry is free. However, the event is non-bookable, so please arrive early to avoid disappointment.

For more information please visit:


For media enquiries please contact Kirsty Cameron T: 01382 308935 M: 07972172158 E:

Notes to Editors:

Café Science was launched in January 2008, and has attracted more than 6000 visitors since then. The monthly events are informal discussions led by leading local researchers that allow members of the public the opportunity to learn more about the ground-breaking science happening locally.

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