PhD Studentship in Psychology: Interviewing police suspects with autism: theory and best practice for interviews

University of Bath - Department of Psychology

Interviewing police suspects with autism: theory and best practice for interviews

The University of Bath, Department of Psychology is pleased to offer a PhD project available for admission in October 2018, supervised by Dr Katie Maras. Involvement with the police can be a difficult experience for anyone, let alone a person with autism, and the social and cognitive complexities of a police interview can be particularly challenging. Previous research has highlighted how current police interviewing techniques can be inappropriate for obtaining evidence from autistic witnesses and victims due to differences in social communication and memory (e.g., Maras & Bowler, 2014). However, police interviewing of autistic suspects is likely to be even more problematic. For example, the increased cognitive demands imposed by a police suspect interview may diminish the quality of a truth-telling autistic suspect’s account, and ‘theory of mind’ impairments may result in a failure to volunteer appropriate information to convince an interviewer of their innocence. Moreover, stereotyped autistic behaviours may make an autistic individual appear less credible. This PhD project will explore how suspects with autism fare under current UK police information gathering interviews in both guilty and innocent experimental simulations.

The successful applicant will be supported in applying for studentship funding provided by the University of Bath and/or the ESRC. Full studentships cover UK tuition fees and provide approx. £14,553 p.a. in living costs for 3 years. Students also receive a personal allowance for additional training costs and conference attendance, and can apply for further funding to pursue fieldwork, academic exchange, and collaboration with partner organisations. Successful applicants will acquire a set of skills that will equip them for high-profile careers in academia or other organisations.

Applicants with relevant undergraduate level or Master’s qualifications are welcome to apply. Studentships are open to UK/EU students on a full-time or part-time basis.

What to do next

Please contact Dr Katie Maras ( to express your interest in applying for this studentship and find out more about the supervision and training on offer. Application for this project is via A research proposal is not required at this preliminary stage; there will be an opportunity for the successful applicant to input into the studentship research proposal at a later stage. 

Please submit your application by Friday 5th January 2018. Note that this preliminary date is earlier than the 30th Jan 2018 deadline for ESRC and University studentship applications, and will enable the successful applicant to be supported in developing a research proposal. Later applications are still possible.  

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South West England