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Our Research group aims to produce theoretically-informed and evidence-based research that has an applied focus, with clear potential impact in the areas of investigative and forensic psychology.

Strong collaborative links with practitioner colleagues promote practice-based research, allowing us to address issues that are directly relevant to real world criminal justice settings, and to contribute to the development of practitioner training.

Meet our team

Research Group Co-ordinator: Dr Clea Wright, Senior Lecturer in Psychology

Prof Ros Bramwell, Head of School

Dr Jennifer Hardy, Lecturer in Psychology

Dr Glenys Holt, Lecturer in Psychology

Dr Michelle Mattison, Associate Professor of Forensic Psychology

Dr Lisa Oakley, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Chair of the National working group for child abuse linked to faith and belief

Dr Jeremy Phillips, BSc Forensic Psychology Programme Leader

Mr Dale Chandler, PhD candidate

Ms Kate Miller, PhD candidate

Mr Connor Pell, PhD candidate

Mr Mike Blakeley, Senior Lecturer in Policing

Mr Geoff Elvey, Head of the Institute of Policing


Some of our current projects

Downplaying crime severity amplifies perception of guilt: The effect of directional errors in confession evidence (PI: Dr Glenys Holt)

This project is investigating how errors in confessions, that either amplify or downplay the severity of the crime, influence judgments of guilt. Results suggest that perceived deliberate ploys to downplay crime severity might result in a stronger perception of guilt.  This may be one explanation as to why jurors will sometimes ignore inconsistencies in confession evidence, with further studies planned to investigate other possible explanations.

Enhancing comprehension of the police caution in people with learning disability (PI: Dr Michelle Mattison)

Some studies have found that the general population, police detainees, and even police officers themselves, fail to fully comprehend the meaning of the police caution. Difficultly in comprehending the meaning of the caution (and other legal rights) is a particularly prevalent issue for people with learning disability, a group whom are overrepresented in the criminal justice system.  This project seeks to empirically test an ‘easy-read’ legal rights resource for both typically developing people and people with learning disability.

The Media representation of terrorist offences (PI: Dr Jeremy Phillips)

Taking a Discourse Analysis approach, and focusing on recent terrorist attacks, this project aims to understand the ways in which these offences are constructed through language. A comparative analysis of newspapers with different political stances allows insight into the processes that lead to the different attitudes that are known to permeate readership demographics. The work aims to feed into the growing literature on social cohesion, policy formation and media influence.

Verbal cues to deception in police interviews with homicide suspects (PI: Dr Clea Wright)

In this research project, transcripts of real life police interviews with homicide suspects are being analysed to investigate which verbal behaviours may indicate that a suspect is lying. It is likely that some verbal behaviours are generalizable across contexts, but recent research also suggests that specific behaviours may emerge from close focus on a specific context. A flexible methodology is being employed, incorporating both theoretical and data driven approaches, to allow for the investigation of cross-context cues, and also for context-specific cues to emerge.

Spotting the signs of child sexual abuse in perpetrator behaviour (PI: Dale Chandler)

Building on previous research with non-offending partners of male offenders, the current project is exploring whether professionals and the general public can spot the characteristic behaviours of the perpetrator of child sexual abuse. A mixed methods approach is being utilized, using vignettes based on Finkelhor’s precondition model of child sexual abuse to investigate the variables which predict individuals’ ability to spot these signs. 

Investigation of interviewer tactics and interpersonal style in police interviews with homicide suspects (PI: Kate Miller)

The current programme of research investigates interviewer tactics and the interpersonal style adopted. In particular, this research examines the effects that such factors have on the interviewee and on the course of the interview. Two hundred and fifteen real world police interview transcripts with truthful and deceitful homicide suspects are currently being analysed and coded, with specific reference to (i) the disclosure of evidence, (ii) question types used, and (iii) the use of empathy and rapport. It is hoped that findings will contribute to our understanding of effective police interview tactics in the real world.

Police suspect interviewing: The use and effectiveness of summarising (PI: Connor Pell)

Summarising is a key interview skill which serves various communicative, strategic and legal functions. However, despite the importance of summarising, very few researchers have investigated its use in practice. On the few occasions where it has been considered, findings indicate that summaries are often absent or unfit for purpose. Therefore, with its roots firmly in applied practice, the aim of this PhD is to provide a detailed investigation of the use of summarising in police interviews.


Recent publications

Palmer, M. A., Sauer, J. D., & Holt, G. A. (2017). Undermining position effects in choices from arrays, with implications for police lineups. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 23(1), 71-84

Mattison, M. L. A., Dando, C. J., & Ormerod, T. (2018).  Drawing the answers: Sketching to support free and probed recall by child witnesses and victims with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism: International Journal of Research and Practice.

Cooper, P., & Mattison, M. L. A. (2018). 'Section 28' and the pre-recording of cross-examination: What can advocates expect in 2018? Criminal Law and Justice Weekly, 182(1), 7 – 9

Oakley, L; Kinmond, K; Humprheys, J & Dioum, M (2017) Practitioner and communities’ awareness of CALFB: Child abuse linked to faith or belief. Child Abuse and Neglect, 72, 276-282

Kinmond, K: Oakley, L; Humprheys, J & Dioum, M (2017) child abuse linked to faith or belief; An important issue for counselling practice. British Journal of Counselling and Guidance, Sept 2017, 1-10

Stewart, S. L. K., Wright, C., & Atherton, C. (2018). Deception detection and truth detection are dependent on different cognitive and emotional traits: An investigation of emotional intelligence, theory of mind, and attention. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Wright, C. & Wheatcroft, J. M. (2017). Police officer’s beliefs about, and use of, cues to deception. Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling.