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Understanding cognition and emotion in offending using VR

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Personal profile


Claire Nee is Professor of Criminological Psychology. She joined the Department of Psychology in 1996 from the Home Office Research and Statistics Directorate. She founded the International Centre for Research in Forensic Psychology in 1997 ( and was Director until 2021. The Centre encompasses her own work and that of 18 other members of staff within the Department (Alethea Adair-Stantiall, Lucy Akehurst, Hartmut Blank, Haneen Deeb, Ale de al Fuente, Ana Gheorghiu, Alistair Harvey, Lorraine Hope, Jonathon Koppel, Sharon Leal, Samantha Mann, Adrian Needs, Lawrence Patihis, Dominic Pearson, Renan Saraiva, Zarah Vernham and Aldert Vrij); numerous postgraduates; and a number of high-profile external members from across the globe. It brings together globally renowed expertise in detecting deception, memory in applied forensic contexts, and offender cognition and emotion. Claire, with her team at Portsmouth, Vrije University and the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime and Law, was the first in the world to use virtual reality to study criminal decision-making and behaviour as it happens. She is a visiting professor at both the Max Planck Institute at Freiburg and the Institute Phillipe Pinel in Montreal. With Professor Tony Ward (NZ) she developed the theory of Dysfunctional Expertise in offending behaviour. Claire is Associate Editor of Psychology, Crime and Law and the International Criminal Justice Review. She was an Associate Editor of Legal and Criminological Psychology from 2007-2011.

Research Interests

Claire's research has included a variety of forensic areas including crime specific research (burglary and car theft); interventions in prisons; criminality in children; personality disorder in female offenders; electronic monitoring of offenders; intensive probation; self-reported offending; and racism and sexism within the police force. Her current research projects include decision-making in burglars and reducing risk in very young offenders and vulnerable children. She is interested in supervising PhDs regarding the cognition and emotion of offenders in the days leading up to the crime and at the scene of the crime; understanding risky behaviours in young people; and coaching citizens to understand risk in their environments. She is a mixed methods researcher, with a heavy emphasis on phenomenology using virtual re-enactments, eye-tracking, physiological measures and spontaneous verbalisations. 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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  • Recognition award

    Nee, Claire (Recipient), 10 Jul 2019

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)