Donna A. Taylor, UoA 4, SSHL

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I joined the University of Westminster ten years ago to study for a degree in Psychology. I graduated in 2006 with a First Class (Honours) degree and elected to stay on at the University to complete a PhD in forensic psychology. I also started working as a part-time visiting lecturer, and have since gone on to become a fractional member of staff. I deliver lectures on two core undergraduate modules within the Department of Psychology, and teach in seminars for seven modules on the undergraduate Psychology degree.

My PhD research investigates ways in which the quality of facial composites can be improved. A facial composite is a visual representation of a previously seen face, which an eyewitness helps to construct with the police in order to further an investigation. I have applied psychological knowledge about the way in which faces are processed and the way memory works to the composite construction process with eyewitnesses in order to maximise their memory performance. I have found that witnesses who have a natural featural processing style produce more accurate facial composites. In addition, witnesses who are encouraged to engage in featural processing also produce more accurate facial composites.

These findings may aid the selection of the most appropriate witness to construct composites on occasions where several witnesses are available. They may also help inform changes to the protocol for using composite construction systems through the introduction of brief five-minute interventions, designed to maximise the memory performance of eyewitnesses.