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Dr Carolyn Semmler

Telephone +61 8 8313 4628
Position Senior Lecturer
Fax +61 8 8313 3770
Building Hughes Building
Floor/Room 5 07
Campus North Terrace
Org Unit Psychology

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B.Psyc (Hons), PhD (Flinders University)

Research Interests

I'm a Senior Lecturer with the School of Psychology at the University of Adelaide. My research applies psychological theory (cognitive and social) to the law. In particular I'm interested in the problem of how to obtain and use information reported by witnesses' to crime to make decisions about the liklihood that a given suspect is the offender. I'm also interested in using psychological principles to improve the accuracy and efficiency of decisions made by our courts. As far as intellectual geneology goes, I'm the 'offspring' of the eyewitness research group headed up by Prof. Neil Brewer at Flinders University. I have also collaborated with leading international eyewitness reseachers including Prof. Gary Wells and Prof. Rod Lindsay on projects related to the use of eyewitness identification evidence. More recently I have collaborated with Assoc. Prof. Amy Bradfield Douglass on theoretical explanations of the postidentification feedback effect (funded by an ARC Discovery Project 2010-2012).

Other work within the area of Psychology and Law has focussed on juror comprehension of judge's instructions and methods for improving comprehension (see Semmler, Brewer & Harvey, 2002). The impact of mood and emotion (in particular anger and sadness) on juror decision making (see Semmler & Brewer, 2001) and application of social persuasion theory to the courtroom. I am also interested in the human operators use of automated face matching systems to identify individuals in security settings (see Heyer & Semmler, 2013). This work is being carried out in collaboration with Dr Rebecca Heyer and Dr Brett McLinden at the Defence Science and Technology Group (funded by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet 2010-2012).

Outside of the psychology-law area I have been developing interests in the application of psychological theory to the medical decision making, in particular to better understand and improve doctors' treatment decisions. We have also investigated methods for inducing 'healthy skepticism' in health consumers. This work was carried out by Dr Brennan Ong as part of his PhD dissertation.

I have also co-authored work applying principles of cognitive psychology to hearing and the perception of sound in legal disputes (see Alias, Best, Niall, Semmler & Woolford, 2010) and provide workshops to legal practitioners and expert witnesses on the impact of cognitive bias in the assessment of evidence for legal matters.

I was named the as winner of the Australian Psychological Society College of Forensic Psychologists "Macconochie Prize". I am a member of the Society for Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, I review papers for the journals Law and Human BehaviorJournal of Experimental Psychology: AppliedApplied Cognitive Psychology and Psychology, Crime and Law.




Expertise for Media Contact

CategoriesLaw, Crime & Justice, Psychology & Psychiatry
Expertiseeyewitness, memory, identification, jurors, police, judges, facial recognition, jury instructions, medical decision making, treatment decisions and persuasion in medical contexts

Entry last updated: Saturday, 13 Feb 2016

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