Research Labs

The Legal Psychology Program prides itself on its record of research scholarship. Both faculty and students are encouraged to become actively engaged in grant writing, publications and conference presentations. Below are a sample of these activities. See also our faculty pages, where more details are listed.

At the Modesto A. Maidique Campus:

Child Narratives Lab

Dr. J. Zoe Klemfuss

Research in the Child Narratives Lab focuses on how social context and individual differences influence children's reports about past events. More specifically, we address questions about how the conditions under which children experience events and the conditions in which they are asked to remember those events influence what and how they recall. Dr. Klemfuss is also interested in studying how individual differences in cognitive and narrative skills contribute to children's abilities to report about events they've experienced. Many of the research questions we address in the lab apply directly to legal settings. For example, how do attorney questions and child witness responses influence jury decisions? How do attorneys create believable stories out of children's accounts? How should interviewers talk with young children about negative past experiences?

Cognitive Laboratory

Dr. Steve Charman

Dr. Charman's research interests lie mainly in the area of eyewitness psychology. More specifically, his research topics include: the underlying cognitive processes of eyewitnesses; various lineup procedures that may improve eyewitness performance; the forensic usefulness (and dangers) of facial composites; and the processes by which crime suspects generate alibis (and how those alibis are subsequently evaluated). He currently maintains a legal psychology lab that involves numerous undergraduate and graduate students. He hopes that his work will help improve the accuracy of criminal trial verdicts, which, as recent DNA exoneration cases have shown, can be tragically mistaken.

I-Lab (Interviewing Laboratory)

Dr. Nadja Schreiber Compo

Dr. Schreiber Compo’s research focuses on investigative interviewing, especially the interviewing of vulnerable witnesses such as children or the intoxicated. She is both interested in potentially detrimental and beneficial interviewing techniques and their underlying cognitive and social mechanisms to improve the quality and quantity of witness and victim recall. Dr. Schreiber Compo has worked with and trained several law enforcement agencies. Her I-LAB involves a variety of undergraduate and graduate projects in the area of witness interviewing.

Development, Context, and Communication Laboratory

Dr. Lindsay Malloy

In the Development, Context, and Communication Lab, Dr. Malloy and students investigate a wide range of research questions about children’s cognitive and social development that have implications for legal contexts. These questions include: What do children say about the past and why? What are the best ways to ask children about their experiences to encourage accuracy? How do children’s life experiences shape how they view the world and other people? How can knowledge of children’s cognitive and social development help those who work with children every day? This research not only helps advance scientific understanding of child development but also helps address “real world” issues by providing information to professionals who conduct important work with children every day (for example, teachers, social workers, legal professionals).

TRIIIAD (Theory-based Research on Interviewing, Interrogation, Intelligence-gathering and Assessing Deception) Lab

Dr. Jacqueline R. Evans

The TRIIIAD Lab conducts experimental research on investigative interviewing in its many forms, to include interviewing cooperative witnesses, interrogating uncooperative suspects, and gathering intelligence from sources. In addition, research in the lab addresses the ability (or lack thereof) to detect deception in a variety of contexts. Some of the variables/constructs Dr. Evans is currently interested in include: language proficiency, presence of a translator, depletion of self-regulatory resources, and interviewee intoxication. Dr. Evans works on these projects with both graduate and undergraduate students. She hopes that findings coming from the lab will help to inform professionals in various legal and national security contexts regarding the most effective methods to use when engaging in an investigative interview and assessing interviewee credibility.

At the Biscayne Bay Campus:

Cognitive Laboratory

Dr. Ronald P. Fisher

Most of Dr. Fisher's research revolves around issues related to applying principles of cognition within a legal context. Dr. Fisher's three primary areas of research are (a) developing the Cognitive Interview procedure to enhance eyewitness memory of crimes (and also related areas, e.g. transportation, accidents, group and personal decisions) , (b) understanding why memory is sometimes inconsistent and examining the implications for impeaching witnesses; and, (c) detecting deception via cognitive measures and manipulations.