• Question: what inspired the interest in forensic psychology?

    Asked by Millie R to Caroline W on 15 Nov 2023.
    • Photo: Caroline Wesson

      Caroline Wesson answered on 15 Nov 2023:

      Hi Millie, thanks for your question!

      I’d always had an interest in things like eyewitness testimony from when I did my A-level and undergraduate degree in psychology but at the time I didn’t know much more about forensic psychology.

      When I started my PhD after my degree I was looking at how we communication confidence and what the influence this has on the decisions that other people make and this brought me back to aspects of eyewitness testimony – so how confident someone is in their testimony – but also other aspects of jury decision-making such as how we perceive confident witnesses and how this influences the decisions we then make (e.g. in terms of guilt). This is really where my interest began.

      After my PhD I started my first job teaching in a university but alongside this is was also working on a research project looking at the psychology of aggression, so more interest in another area of forensic psychology was sparked here and it carried on from there. I just started finding out more and more about different areas of forensic psychology and got more and more interested in these. In fact I was so interested I introduced a forensic psychology module to our undergraduate degree course!

      Since then my interests in the area have carried on to expand and I get introduced to new areas by working with different people or being responsive to new developments in society. So as a result of working with some friends, I’ve researched online risks for people with intellectual disabilities and issues for people with mental ill health and/or intellectual disabilities in the criminal justice system. A few years ago (well probably getting on for 10 years now!) I was also reading a newspaper article and came across a new crime called ‘revenge porn’ where people were having private, intimate images of themselves shared online, often after a relationship had broken down badly and this really sparked my interest. I was really fascinated by how the media spoke about victims here and how there seemed to be a lot of victim-blaming so I started to research this area and it’s allowed me to combine social, forensic and cyber psychology. It’s a fascinating area and it’s lead me to look a lot at victim-blaming more generally.

      So there you have it! There’s been a number of inspirations along the way and they keep on coming!