Professor Gisli Gudjonsson
Clinical and Forensic Psychologist

Gisli is an Emeritus Professor of Forensic Psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, Kings College London and a Professor in the Psychology Department at Reykjavik University.

Prior to his retirement in 2012, he was the Head of Forensic Psychology Services for the Lambeth Forensic Services and Medium Secure Unit at the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust (SLaM). He is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society and a registered practitioner (clinical and forensic) with the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC).

Gisli pioneered the empirical measurement of interrogative suggestibility and has published extensively in the areas of psychological vulnerabilities, false confessions and police interviewing. He has provided expert evaluation in a number of high profile cases, including the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six. He has also testified in many high profile cases throughout the world. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Medicine in 2001 by the University of Iceland for services to forensic psychiatry and psychology. In April 2009, the British Psychological Society presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2012, he was awarded The European Association of Psychology and Law (EAPL) Life Time Achievement Award, and the 2017 iIIRG Tom Williamson Life Time Achievement Award. He is the author of numerous books including: The Psychology of Interrogations, Confessions, and Testimony (John Wiley & Sons, 1992), The Psychology of Interrogations and Confessions. A Handbook(John Wiley & Sons, 2003),and The Gudjonsson Suggestibility Scales Manual (Psychology Press, 1997). 

False confessions and mental health.

Until the 1980s, little was known about the psychology of false confessions, including how they were elicited, the mechanism and processes involved, the role of psychological vulnerabilities, and how they could be identified. There is now extensive evidence that many people detained at police stations for questioning are psychologically vulnerable to giving false confessions, under certain circumstances, due to low IQ, ADHD, a history of substance misuse, past trauma, and disturbed mental state, which typically increases their level of suggestibility and/or compliance. It is the combination of situational factors and personal vulnerabilities that increases the risk of false confession.Custodial factors, particularly lengthy/harsh interrogation and solitary confinement are important causes of false confession. This will be demonstrated by case illustrations. What is needed is research that focuses more explicitly on the dynamics (i.e. the interplay between the interrogator and the suspect) that cause different types of false confession during interrogation. Often overlooked is that wrongful arrests and convictions can have damaging long-term effects of mental health and memory processes.