School:Psychology and Sport Science
Elizabeth is a developmental psychologist and her research focuses on the role of gesture in language and thought.
Elizabeth joined the Psychology department at ARU as a Senior Lecturer in 2018. Before joining our department, Elizabeth was a lecturer in Psychology at the University of York, and before that she was Senior Lecturer in Developmental Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. Elizabeth received her doctorate from the University of Hertfordshire in 2009.
What effect does encouraging infants to gesture (Baby Sign) have on language development and parental-infant interaction? How does exposure to more than one language impact upon infant’s gesture production, and what do bilingual infant’s gestures reveal about their language development? Is the association between gesture and language culturally universal? Dr Kirk's research addresses these questions using longitudinal, cross-sectional and observational methods. She is working in collaboration with: Dr Meesha Warmington, University of Sheffield; Dr Reyhan Furman, University of Central Lancashire; Dr Katie Slocombe, University of York; and Professor Caroline Rowland, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics.
Dr Kirk's research demonstrates that gestures can help us think and can help us to generate new ideas. For example, encouraging children to gesture while they solve a creative thinking task can make them more creative. On the other hand, gesture can also mislead children during eyewitness interviews and can create false memories. She is currently collaborating with Dr Daniel Gurney (Hertfordshire) and Dr Mark Blades (Sheffield) to investigate the gestural misinformation effect in children and adults.
Throughout development our body changes significantly and often dramatically. Dr Kirk is interested in the way in which these bodily changes impact upon our cognitions and emotions. In collaboration with cognitive neuroscientist Dr Catherine Preston (York), her research examines the development of body understanding in childhood and the perception of bodily changes during pregnancy.
Dr Kirk is accepting applications for PhDs within her research interests as described above.
Issues in Social and Developmental Psychology
Crucianelli, L., Wheatley, L., Filippetti, M. L., Jenkinson, P. M., Kirk, E., Fotopoulou, A. K, 2019. The mindedness of maternal touch: An investigation of maternal mind-mindedness and mother-infant touch interactions. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 35, pp. 47-56.
Kirk, E., Sharma, S., 2017. Mind-mindedness in mothers of children with autism spectrum disorder. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 43, pp. 18-26.
Kirk, E., Lewis, C., 2017. Gesture facilitates children’s creative thinking. Psychological Science, 28(2), pp. 225–232. doi: 10.1177/0956797616679183
Kirk, E., Wheatley, L., Pine, K. J., Howlett, N., Fletcher, B., 2015. A longitudinal investigation of the relationship between maternal mind-mindedness and theory of mind. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 33, 4, pp. 443-445. doi: 10.1111/bjdp.12104
Lewis, C., Lovatt, P., Kirk, E., 2015. Many hands make light work: The facilitative role of gesture in verbal improvisation. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 17, pp. 149-157. doi: 10.1016/j.tsc.2015.06.001
Kirk, E., Gurney, D., Edwards, R., Dodimead, C., 2015. Handmade Memories: The Robustness of the Gestural Misinformation Effect in Children’s Eyewitness Interviews. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 39(3), pp. 259-273. doi: 10.1007/s10919-015-0210-z
Kirk, E., Howlett, N., Pine, K. J., Fletcher, B., 2013. To Sign or Not to Sign? The Impact of Encouraging Infants to Gesture on Infant Language and Maternal Mind-Mindedness. Child Development, 84:2. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2012.01874.x
Kirk, E., Pine, K. J. Ryder, N., 2010. I hear what you say but I see what you mean: The role of gestures in children's pragmatic comprehension. Language and Cognitive Processes, 26(2), pp. 149-170. doi: 10.1080/01690961003752348Howlett, N., Kirk, E., Pine, K. J., 2010. Does ‘Wanting the Best’ create more stress? The link between baby sign classes and maternal anxiety. Infant and Child Development, 20(4), pp. 437 – 445. doi: 10.1002/icd.705
Pine, K. J, Bird, H., Kirk, E., 2007. The effects of prohibiting gestures on children's lexical retrieval ability. Developmental Science, 10(6), pp. 747-754. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2007.00610.x
Pine, K. J., Lufkin, N., Kirk, E., &Messer, D., 2007. A microgenetic analysis of the relationship between speech and gesture in children: Evidence for semantic and temporal asynchrony. Language and Cognitive Processes, 22(2), pp. 234-246. doi: 10.1080/01690960600630881