Thanks for visiting! I received my Ph.D. in social and legal psychology from York University, and I am also trained as a lawyer at the Ontario Bar. My research interests focus on the ways that psychology can inform legal processes and challenge assumptions under the law. In particular, I am interested in the psychology of hate crime, wrongful convictions, and racial bias in the criminal justice system.
My primary research focuses on hate crimes, including the role of model victim prototypes and schematic processing in observer reactions to such crimes. What behavioural expectations are placed on hate crime victims, and does this vary in relation to the victim’s specific group identity? What is the role of individual differences such as authoritarianism and social dominance orientation or group-specific prejudice in predicting these reactions? How do people respond to hate crimes that do not fit our expectations of prototypicality, and might this explain legal outcomes?
Another line of research explores the causes and effects of wrongful convictions, as well as public perceptions of exonorees. Our lab is exploring estimates of wrongful convictions among professionals working in the criminal justice system, and what experiences they have had with this troubling phenomenon. In addition, we are examining the factors that influence the perception that an exoneree is truly innocent, and the impact that a formal apology and compensation can have.
Challenge for Cause/Juror Bias
This line of research explores the use of the challenge for cause procedure in screening jurors for racial bias against racialized defendants. Where the challenge is made, how many prospective jurors admit in open court that they would be unable to judge the case fairly due to the defendant’s race? Does it matter how the question is asked, or whether there are other members of the jury panel present when the question is asked? Is the screening question successful at identifying racial bias, and what alternative ways might there be to screen jurors?