Research topic: The Elusive Moral Emotion: Elucidating the Nature of Remorse and its Appraisal by Observers in the Legal System
Research location: Centre for the Advancement of Psychological Science and Law, UBC Okanagan
Research supervisor: Dr. Stephen Porter
My research focuses on issues at the intersection of psychology and law, including emotional deception, lie detection, psychopathy, and eyewitness memory. For my dissertation I am extending the line of research on general emotional deception to a more specific emotional experience and its display: remorse. Despite being given considerable weight by observers in a variety of contexts, little is known about the affective, cognitive, or functional underpinnings of remorse. Because of the communicative nature of remorse displays (serving to influence observers), perpetrators lacking remorse are highly motivated to feign it in hopes of garnering the consequential benefits bestowed upon the best actors. Given that it is frequently feigned, it is important to explore the manner in which remorse may be differentially communicated sincerely and insincerely. The goal of my dissertation is to enhance our basic understanding of how remorse manifests and then examine whether we can identify true versus faked remorse from emotional displays, body language, and verbal characteristics.
Home Town: Trail, BC
Faculty/School: Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences
Program: Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
During my undergraduate degree I became fascinated with the area of forensic psychology and became very aware of the various ways in which psychology can inform practices and decision-making within the legal system. I decided that completing my MA followed by a PhD would be the best way to contribute in a meaningful way to the legal system and enhance our understanding of psycho-legal constructs.
Why did you decide to study at UBC's Okanagan campus?
Although I was very fortunate to be accepted at other universities (very much due to the opportunities I received during my undergraduate degree here at UBCO), I chose to attend UBC Okanagan for various reasons. Firstly, the quality of teachers in the Psychology Department and their passion for teaching has always been inspiring. More specifically, UBC and the Psychology Department did a great job of attracting leading researchers in the field of forensic and social psychology. Many of these professors formed the Centre for the Advancement of Psychological Science (CAPSL) which is a cutting edge facility allowing for seemingly endless possibilities when it comes to research projects and collaboration. These circumstances and the great colleagues in the Psychology Department made it hard to leave UBC Okanagan so I ultimately decided to complete my graduate studies here.
What impact do you hope your research will have?
Countless studies speak to some of the flawed practices or concerns with decision-making in the criminal justice system currently. This is incredibly concerning as unfounded decision-making or outdated/unsupported practices can negatively influence both the lives of individuals in contact with the legal system (whether they be defendants, perpetrators, or victims) and societal safety more generally. I hope that my research will be able to address some of these current concerns to help inform the decisions being made. The applied aspect of forensic psychology is what really excites me about the area. I think that research being conducted in the field can have very real implications for the legal system, as long as those charged with the difficult task of making decisions within the legal system are receptive to empirically-based research findings.
Last reviewed 11/20/2015 2:37:46 PM