SASS Sarah Henderson
Title: Dr
First Name: Sarah
Surname: Henderson
Position: Senior Lecturer
Telephone: 01224 263241

Academic Background

  • BSc Hons (Portsmouth)
  • MSc (Glasgow Caledonian)
  • PhD (Aberdeen)


  • Research: Statistics and Data Analysis - Year 2
  • Developmental Psychology - Year 3
  • Forensic Psychology - Year 4

Professional Background

Sarah has worked within RGU since August 2004 and became course leader for the BA (Hons) Applied Social Sciences in July 2013. Sarah teaches various aspects of psychology and quantitative research methods. She is interested in various areas of cognitive psychology but especially interested in the application of psychology to the law and criminology. Sarah's previous research has looked at how stress is generated and its effects on memory and emotional state; also the links between memory, stress, depression and substance abuse. Related to this is the area of false memories and eye-witness testimony - do people accurately recall events?

Sarah is also interested in the psychology of interviews, especially being questioned in either a police interview or during a court case. Both situations can be incredibly stressful and the stress generated during a police interview can, in rare cases, even lead to individuals falsely confessing to crimes they did not commit. In addition, the types of questions asked are very important. Confusing questions can decrease the individuals' confidence in what they are saying, and leading questions can cause incorrect information to be incorporated in the individual's memory. This sort of confusion can lead to false recollections of what actually happened.

As well as being interested in the effects of stress on memory, Sarah has carried out some research into cognitive failures and how peoples' self-perception (i.e. if people see themselves as "lucky" or have a particular type of personality) may impact their memory and cognitive abilities.

Research Interests

  • Forensic Psychology
  • Effects of Stress on memory
  • Psychology of Police / legal Interviewing
  • False confessions


Henderson, S.E. and Forbes-McKay, K.E. (2013) Scoping Study of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder/Alcohol Affected Pregnancies. Aberdeenshire Alcohol and Drug Partnership.

Duncan, E.M., Forbes-McKay, K.E. and Henderson, S.E. (2012) Alcohol Use During Pregnancy: An Application of the Theory of Planned Behavior. Journal of Applied Social Psychology. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.2012.00923.x.

Henderson, S. E. & Taylor, L. J. (2006) Nothing but the truth - achieving best evidence through interviewing in the forensic setting. In B. Brooks-Gordon & M. Freeman (eds) Law and Psychology. Current Legal Issues Volume 9. UK: Oxford University Press.

Memon, A. & Henderson, S. E. (2002). What can Psychological Research Contribute to the Examination of Memory and Past Mental States? In R. I. Simon & D. Shuman (eds) Retrospective Assessments of Mental States in Litigation: Predicting the Past. USA: American Psychiatric Press.

Taylor, L. J. & Henderson, S. E. (2002). Confessions: Consensus in Idem? Scots Law Times, 40, 325-336.

Abstracts and Proceedings

Henderson, S. E. & Taylor, L. J. (2003). Seeing is believing: Effects of a Traumatic Event on Emotional State and Implications regarding delictual liability for psychiatric harm. Proceedings of the Psychology and law International, Interdisciplinary Conference in Edinburgh, July 2003.

Henderson, S. E. (2001). Effects of a Simulated Crime on Memory and Emotional State. Proceedings of the 7th European Conference on Traumatic Stress.

Henderson, S. E. (1999). Effects of Trauma on Memory. Proceedings of the British Psychological Society.

Recent Presentations

Caughey, J. E. & Henderson, S.E. (2006). The crime in question: Retrieval Dynamics in Investigative Interviewing. Second International Conference on Investigative Interviewing at The University of Portsmouth.

Taylor, L. J. & Henderson, S. E. (2005). Nothing but the truth: Achieving best evidence through interviewing in the forensic setting. 9th Annual Interdisciplinary Colloquium at University College, London.