Department of Psychology


Ms Hannah Lawrence

  • Qualifications: Bachelor degree in Psychology and Educational Science, MSc in Forensic Psychology
  • Role Title: PhD Student
  • Address: King Henry Building, King Henry I Street, Portsmouth, PO1 2DY
  • Telephone: 023 9284 6317
  • Email:
  • Department: Psychology
  • Faculty: Faculty of Science


In 2012, I graduated from the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium with a Bachelor degree in Psychology and Education Science. Specialising in Health and Wellbeing, my thesis explored the relationship between post-partum psychosis and mother-infant interactions, and whether a paternal figure can act as a moderator.

Having always been fascinated by criminal behaviour and criminal justice, I then returned to my hometown of Portsmouth to complete an MSc in Forensic Psychology. My MSc dissertation investigated the impact of priming moral identity on moral disengagement scores in a French-speaking sample.

My current research interests include child deception, children’s coached reports, the theoretical and practical application of imposing cognitive load to children, and children within the investigative process of the Criminal Justice System.


In February 2014, I began my PhD adventure after being the successful candidate of a faculty bursary. Under the supervision of Dr Lucy Akehurst, Dr Julie Cherryman and Professor Aldert Vrij, my doctoral research will investigate different interview strategies that can be applied to child witnesses to discriminate better between truth-tellers and lie-tellers. These methods include imposing cognitive load, presenting a model statement and using unanticipated questions. We hope to compare different strategies to establish the most effective, age-appropriate technique with children.

It is anticipated that each of these techniques will exaggerate subtle differences in verbal behaviours between child truth-tellers and child lie-tellers, ultimately enabling adult evaluators to distinguish between these two groups more accurately. Being one of the first projects of its kind, the results could have crucial implications for achieving justice in crimes involving child witnesses, particularly when a peer has coached them to fabricate an account.


Lawrence, H., Akehurst, L., Cherryman, J., Vrij, A., & Leach, A.-M. (2014). Does instructing children to maintain eye contact improve deception detection? Presentation to be given at the European Association of Psychology and Law (EAPL) annual conference, 24-27 June, St-Petersburg, Russia.


Dr Amy-May Leach from the University of Ontario, Institute of Technology, in Canada, is an external advisor on my first and second studies, which investigate imposing cognitive load in children using the instruction to maintain eye contact.

Professional Memberships

Graduate Member of the British Psychological Society (2012 to present).