I’m a Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society and a Lecturer in Psychology.
Before joining the teaching staff at Abertay in 2016, I worked for the Medical Research Council and the Scottish Government in various research roles.
My primary research interest involves investigating the cognitive mechanisms which underpin bidialectalism. My PhD investigated whether speakers of (Scottish) Standard English and Dundonian Scots displayed any of the same cognitive effects that have been observed in bilinguals. I’m also interested in how listeners use language, dialect and accent to make social judgements.
My research on bidialectalism has received significant media attention with coverage in the Financial Times, BBC News, BBC Timeline and local and national radio.
I’m actively involved in promoting public understanding of science and have been a demonstrator at the Edinburgh Science Festival, the Dundee Science Festival, the MRC Mini Scientists exhibition and the Big Bang Science Festival.
I currently teach on the following modules:
PSY103: Evidence-Based Thinking: Scientific Approaches to Studying Human Behaviour
PSY310: Biological Psychology and Personality & Individual Differences
PSY510: Introductory Psychology for Masters
PSY102: Introductory Psychology 2
PSY408: Advanced Social and Cognitive Psychology
I also supervise students on the PSY410: Psychology Honours Project module across both Terms.
Previous Teaching Duties:
Module Leader for MSc Mental Health Nursing components of GRS501: Research Methods and PSY500: Master's Project modules.
Lecturer for AHEAD (Access to Higher Education Abertay Dundee) course
My primary research interest involves investigating the cognitive mechanisms which underpin bidialectalism. My PhD investigated whether speakers of (Scottish) Standard English and Dundonian Scots displayed any of the same cognitive effects that have been observed in bilinguals. I am also interested in the role of language, dialect and accent in conveying non-referential social information about a speaker and how listeners use this information to make social judgements.
Kirk, N. W., Kempe, V., Scott-Brown, K. C., Philipp, A., & Declerck, M. (2018). Can monolinguals be like bilinguals? Evidence from dialect switching. Cognition, 170, 164-178.
Kempe, V., Kirk, N. W., & Brooks, P. J. (2015). Revisiting theoretical and causal explanations for the bilingual advantage in executive functioning. Cortex, 73, 342-344.
Kirk. N. W., Fiala, L., Scott-Brown, K.C., & Kempe, V. (2014) No reduced Simon cost in elderly bilinguals and bidialectals. Journal of Cognitive Psychology 26 (6), 640-648.
Kirk, N.W., Scott-Brown, K. C., & Kempe, V. (2013). Do older Gaelic-English bilinguals show an advantage in inhibitory control? In M. Knauff, M., Pauen, N., Sebanz, & I. Wachsmuth (Eds.) Proceedings of the 35th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 782-787). Austin TX: Cognitive Science Society.
Kempe, V., Thoresen, J. C., Kirk, N. W., Schaeffler, F. & Brooks P. J. (2012) Individual differences in the discrimination of novel speech sounds: Effects of sex, temporal processing, musical and cognitive abilities. PlosOne, 7(11), e48623
Scottish Government Social Research (2015). Young People and E-Cigarettes in Scotland: A Survey of Secondary School Pupils. Retrieved from: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2015/09/4481
Peer-Reviewed Conference Presentations
Kirk, N. W., Kempe, V., Scott-Brown, K., Philipp, A., & Declerck, M. (2015) Demands on executive functioning can differ among monolinguals. Paper presented at the 19th Conference of the European Society for Cognitive Psychology (ESCOP), Paphos, Cyprus.
Kirk, N.W., Scott-Brown, K.C., & Kempe, V. (2015) Are changes in articulatory settings responsible for the language switching cost? Presented at ICPS, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Kirk, N. W., Declerck, M., Scott-Brown, K. C., Kempe, V. & Philipp, A. (2014) Cognitive cost of switching between Standard and Dialect varieties. Presented at AMLaP XX, Edinburgh, Scotland.
Kirk, N. W., Kempe, V., & Scott-Brown. K. C. (2013). How well can listeners distinguish dialects and unfamiliar languages? Presented at the 54th Annual Meeting of The Psychonomic Society, Toronto, Canada.
Kirk, N. W., Scott-Brown, K.C., & Kempe. V. (2013). Do older Gaelic-English bilinguals show an advantage in inhibitory control? Presented at the 35th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Berlin Germany.
Kirk, N. W., Scott-Brown, K. C., & Kempe. V. (2013). Do elderly bidialectal speakers enjoy an advantage in inhibitory control? Presented at Bilingualism and Cognitive Control Workshop, Krakow, Poland.
Brimijoin, W. O., Kirk, N. W., Foreman, K. & Akeroyd, M. A. (2012) The effect of hearing aids and head movements on front/back confusion. Presented at the British Society of Audiology Annual Meeting. Nottingham, UK.
Kempe, V., Thoresen, J. C., Kirk, N. W., Brooks, P. J. & Schaeffler, F. (2011) Perceptual and cognitive predictors of non-native phoneme discrimination. Presented at the 52nd Annual Meeting of The Psychonomic Society, Seattle, WA.
Prizes and Funding
'Bilingual Minds, Bilingual Machines’ Summer School: Fee Waiver (£400) (June 2013)
Leverhulme Trust: PhD Studentship: Named Candidate (£67,897) (Sept 2012 – Sept 2015)
The Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland: Travel Grant (£750) (May 2011)
Alexander D G Kydd Memorial Prize, awarded for outstanding academic performance on a postgraduate course (£100) (Nov 2010)
I am a Chartered Psychologist (CPsychol) with the British Psychological Society (BPS).
Public Engagement and Science Communication (Selection)
• Demonstrator at several science festivals including: The Edinburgh Science Festival, The MRC “Mini-scientists” exhibition, the Dundee Science Festival and The Big Bang Science Festival (Birmingham).
• Editor and Article Writer (“Let’s talk about (Gay) sex!”) for the GIST magazine (Glasgow Insight into Science and Technology). Available online at: http://the-gist.org/2012/07/lets-talk-about-gay-sex/
Media Coverage of Research (Selection)
• Media coverage on national radio, television, broadsheets and digital magazines including:
o BBC Radio Scotland
o Radio Foyle (Northern Ireland)
o BBC Alba
o The Financial Times ("Being Bilingual May Not Boost Brain Power")
o Aeon Magazine ("Do dialect speakers get the same benefits as bilinguals?")
o BBC News Online ("Older Gaels Sought for Abertay 'Mental Agility' Study")