28th April 2021: Tim Wharton (Brighton) and Constant Bonard (Institut Jean Nicod Department) Title: Emotion and Relevance.

Emotion and Relevance

Wharton, Tim, David Sander, Daniel Dukes, Constant Bonard and Steve Oswald

Handout for this session available here.

The ability to focus on relevant information is central to human cognition and it is therefore hardly surprising that the notion of relevance appears across a range of different disciplines. As well as its central role in relevance-theoretic pragmatics, relevance is also a core concept in affective science, where there is consensus that for a particular object or event to elicit an emotional state, that object or event needs to be relevant to the person in whom that state is elicited. Despite this, although some affective scientists have carefully considered what emotional relevance might mean, surprisingly little research has been dedicated to providing a definition. The primary aim of the work presented here – see Wharton, Bonard, Dukes, Sander and Oswald (forthcoming) – is to compare relevance as it exists in affective science and in relevance theory. A further aim is to redress what we perceive to be an imbalance: affective scientists have made great strides in understanding the processes of emotion elicitation/responses etc., but despite the fact that among humans the communication of information about emotional states is ubiquitous, pragmatists have tended to ignore it. We conclude, therefore, that affective science and relevance theory have much to learn from each other.


Wharton, T., C. Bonard, D. Dukes, D. Sander and S. Oswald (forthcoming) Emotion and    Relevance. In Special Issue of Journal of Pragmatics

Win a Copy of Relevance, Pragmatics and Interpretation

To celebrate the launch of the Relevance Researchers’ Network, we are giving away a copy of ‘Relevance, Pragmatics and Interpretation’ (2019) edited by Scott, Clark and Carston. To be in with a chance of winning, follow us on Twitter @RelevanceN and retweet our post about the competition.

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Gemma Williams (Brighton). Title: ‘Relevance, interest affect and flow: Mapping out Concepts’

24th February 2021

Click this image for the recording of the talk


Relevance theorists are well-versed in the role of mutual cognitive environments in ostensive-inferential communication. In my recently completed doctoral research, I  investigated the role that faulty assumptions about what is mutually manifest might play in the breakdowns in mutual understanding between autistic and non-autistic people, otherwise known as the ‘double empathy problem’ (Milton, 2012). This talk introduces the theoretical background of my research and describes how the analysis of recorded, naturalistic conversations involving autistic and non-autistic interlocutors highlighted the potential importance of concepts such as flowrapport and affect, and interest to a relevance theoretic account of utterance interpretation and social communication. Finally, this talk explores what these concepts might have in common and asks how, technically, they might relate to the construct of ‘relevance’? 

Following on Gemma’s super interesting talk, we had a very engaging discussion on how concepts such as interest, relevance, and affect would interlink with each other.