An evidence-based approach to promoting honesty in child witnesses
PhDs and postgraduate research
Funded (UK/EU/International students)
Department of Psychology
This project is now closed. The details below are for information purposes only.
View our current projects here.
Applications are invited for a fully-funded three-year PhD or four-year Masters and PhD studentship to commence in October 2021.
The studentship is funded by the ESRC South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership (SCDTP), a collaboration between the universities of Portsmouth, Southampton and Brighton.
The studentship covers tuition fees and an annual maintenance grant of £15,285 (2020/21 rate).
The supervisors are Dr Lucy Akehurst (Reader in the Department of Psychology at the University of Portsmouth), Dr Hannah Cassidy (Senior Lecturer in Forensic Psychology at the University of Brighton) and Professor Victoria Talwar (Developmental Psychologist at McGill University in Montreal, Canada).
The work on this project will:
- Evaluate the truth-promoting approaches that interviewers currently use.
- Compare these approaches with techniques which have a strong evidence base.
- Align with the priorities of the International Centre for Research in Forensic Psychology.
Promoting honesty in child witnesses is key to achieving justice. However, UK guidelines currently recommend Truth/Lies Discussions (TLDs) that are neither empirically supported, nor consistently implemented. Poor performance on these tests can have serious legal consequences and yet they do not predict whether a child will be truthful. This research will evaluate the truth-promoting approaches that interviewers currently use and compare these approaches with techniques which have a strong evidence base. The over-arching objective of this research will be to recommend, to police officers and other stake-holders, in this country and abroad, evidence-based techniques that promote honesty in child witnesses.
All candidates must hold a good honours degree (2:1 and above) from a recognised higher education institution. Please note, students applying without a Master's qualification containing a substantial Social Sciences methods component may be required to complete such a Master's beforehand. The Master's will be fully funded by the SCDTP and will be run from the University of Southampton.
English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.
Applicants for this PhD position should have at least a completed BA or BSc honours level degree in Psychology or a related discipline from an accredited course with a minimum 2.1 award with knowledge of, and experience in, quantitative and qualitative research methods. You should have excellent writing skills and good interpersonal skills for engaging and recruiting participants (including children) and communicating with non-academic partners (e.g. police officers, Crown Prosecution Service personnel).
How to apply
The first thing you will need is a University supervisor to support your SCDTP application -- so you’ll need to contact the project supervisors before you submit an application.
The project will require you to discuss possible methods and research design as well as detailing how your skills, background, and research interests match the project.
It is therefore very important that you discuss the project with the supervisor. Full instructions are given on the SCDTP application form and there are different word limits depending on whether you are applying for a 1+3 (ie Masters in Social Research Methods plus PhD) or +3 (PhD only).
When applying to the University, please quote project code: SDTP5800121