Psychologist wins academic poster award

A psychologist from the University of Hertfordshire has won a prize from the British Psychological Society for the best academic poster exhibited at its recent Annual Conference in Glasgow. Dr Daniel Gurney will be receiving £100 in book tokens for his poster 'Can misleading hand gestures influence eyewitness testimony?'

His work, which was carried out with Professor Karen Pine, found that the body language used by interviewers in mock police interviews could encourage eyewitnesses to give false accounts of what they had seen.

As his poster concluded: "At present, police interviews require only an audio recording (with no video surveillance). So, while any instances of verbal influence can be identified, any nonverbal influence from gestures would occur 'off the radar'. This new area of research highlights the importance of considering the risk that nonverbal information could mislead witnesses."

Dr Gurney says: "I'm honoured to have been awarded this prize. My research has considered whether eyewitnesses can be influenced by misleading hand gestures performed by police interviewers and has found that gestures can skew their memory and cause them to report seeing something they didn't. I think this is an important area of forensic psychology that has been overlooked by researchers in the past and has strong implications for the interviewing of witnesses."