Dr Michael Forrester

Honorary Reader
Dr Michael Forrester


Dr Michael Forrester is a Reader in Psychology, Curriculum Development Chair and Deputy TEF Coordinator in the School of Psychology.

Research interests

Mike's primary research interests are in child development and language, and he also has secondary interests in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. The conceptual framework which informs his work derives, for the most part, from pragmatics and in particular conversation analysis. However, Michael also has interests in discursive psychology, psychoanalysis and in the development of qualitative methods and would be happy to supervise graduate students in the following areas:

  • Children's conversational skills with particular emphasis on relevant concepts from ethnomethodology and conversation analysis. A corpus of conversation data (of my pre-school aged daughter Ella, learning to talk) is available access to these files can be obtained at the CHILDES child language data facility.  This work is also reported in a recently published book – ‘Early Social Interaction’ (Forrester, M.A.( 2015)).  Extracts reported in the various chapters of that book can be found in video-clips available here.
  • Psychoanalytic developmental psychology: In this area my interests focus on the early years (e.g., infancy) and are informed by psychoanalytic theorists including Lacan, Klein, Winnicott and Freud.
  • Psychology of music and the social psychology of music.  Current work includes the analysis of children’s skills surrounding the recognition and production of familiar and unfamiliar songs (http://www.airsplace.ca).  This is part of an ongoing cross-cultural project mapping out the development of singing and related abilities associated with singing.


Mike would be happy to receive queries from students who might have interests in: (a) children's conversational skills, (b) conversation and communication processes in a variety of applied contexts (c) psychoanalytic developmental psychology, (d) the psychology of music and the social psychology of music, and (d) projects where the question or issue being addressed is best approached through the use of qualitative methods (e.g., discourse analysis; IPA; grounded theory or conversation analysis).


  • 2013-17 Angelique Eydam (PhD):  Development of social learning in infants and young children (2nd supervisor).
  • 2005-06 Sarah King (MSc): The emergence of other-repair in children's talk: An ethnomethodological case study of one child.
  • 2000-05 Teresa Neves (PhD): The interplay between symbolic expression and interpretation in the therapeutic context.
  • 1997-2000 Neil Blue (MPhil): The development of causal understanding in young children.
  • 1996-2000 Chris Pike (PhD): The internalisation of adult-child conversation in children's cognitive development.
  • 1999-2000 Jagjit Malhi (MSc): The role of repetition in forming accusatory and justificatory versions of events in police interviews.
  • 1995-1998 Chris Ramsden (PhD) A discursive approach to psychological stress.


Grants and Awards

2011Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada
Advanced Interdisciplinary Research in Singing (AIRS)
2003-05Economic and Social Research Council
Learning how to talk: a case study of the emergence of conversational skills
Evaluating electronic journals (with R. Jones)
1996-97UKC Social Sciences Research Faculty
1995-97Economic and Social Research Council
Children's estimation abilities in mathematical contexts

Key publications

  • Forrester, M. A. (2015) Early Social Interaction:  A Case Comparison of Developmental Pragmatics and Psychoanalytic Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Forrester, M.A. (2013) Mutual adaptation in parent-child interaction. Interaction Studies, 14, 2 190-211 – DOI 10.1075/is.12.2.03
  • Forrester, M. A. (2010). Emerging musicality during the pre-school years: A case study of one child. Psychology of Music, 38 (2), 131-158.
  • Forrester, M.A. & Cherrington, S. (2009). The development of other-related conversational skills: A case study of conversational repair during the early years. First Language, 29, 166-192.
  • Forrester, M.A. (2008) The emergence of self-repair: A case study of one child during the preschool years. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 41, 97-126.


Last updated