Stephen Ross, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor ; Graduate Faculty

Specialty: Legal Psychology

Ross, Stephen

Contact information

Dept: Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences
Room: MDS 105A
Phone: 253-692-4386
Schedule: Winter 2014 office hours: Mondays and Wednesdays, 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. and by appointment.


  • Ph.D., Psychology (Legal), University of Texas at El Paso, 2008.
  • M.A., Cognitive and Social Processes, Ball State University, 2004.
  • B.A., Psychology, Roger Williams University, 1999.


In the simplest terms - I am a legal psychologist. To make it a bit more complex - I am an applied social cognition researcher interested in understanding how the social and cognitive processes associated with memory and decision-making influence actions within the criminal legal system. Much of my current research focuses on aspects of eyewitness memory and decision-making with specific focus on identification procedures. However, I am also interested in research evaluating investigative interviewing techniques with compliant (i.e., interviewing eyewitnesses) and non-compliant individuals (i.e., interrogations of suspects), deception detection, and juridicial decision-making. Although my research interests are broad, they are connected through an underlying interest in how basic cognitive and social principles influence decision-making across these contexts.


As mentioned earlier, my research focuses primarily on understanding how social and cognitive factors influence decision-making in the criminal justice system. Although the majority of my work focuses on the factors that influence eyewitness memory and decision-making, I have also conducted research evaluating deception detection, investigative interviewing, juror bias, and juror decision-making. Upon arrival here at UW Tacoma, I set up the Center for Applied Social Cognition Research (CASCR) in which I work with undergraduate research assistants on studies examining these issues. More information about our research is available on the CASCR website (


I teach both general and applied courses on content relevant to psychology and the legal system. My general content courses are in the areas of social and cognitive psychology and include TPSYCH 240 (Social Psychology), TPSYCH 250 (Human Cognition), TPSYCH 350 (Human Memory), and TPSYCH 352 (Judgment and Decision Making). Although the primary focus of these courses is to develop a general understanding of basic psychological principles, each course includes an interest in understanding how these basic principles apply to "real world" contexts. In addition to these general psychology courses, I also teach upper-division applied topics courses including TPSYCH 421 (Social Psychology, Law, & Society), TPSYCH 422 (Psychology & the Legal System), & TPSYCH 471 (Applied Issues in Cognition). These courses draw not only on understanding basic psychological principles, but also incorporate interdisciplinary perspectives from other other fields (e.g., law, policing, public policy, business, health). TPSYCH 421 and TPSYCH 422 are tailored towards understanding how psychological science can help us understand and inform our legal systems. TPSYCH 471 also includes some coverage of how cognitive psychology principles can help us understand behavior within the criminal justice system, but also includes more broad coverage of applications of these principles within business, healthcare, and education systems as well as other aspects of daily life. Given the focus on understanding how these processes are related to real-world applications, many of my courses not only serve to fulfill the requirements for the Psychology major, but also serve as electives towards the Criminal Justice degree.

Selected Publications

  • Ross, S. J., Tredoux, C. G., & Malpass, R. S. (2013). Evaluating eyewitness testimony of adults. In I. B. Weiner & R. K. Otto (Eds.), Handbook of Forensic Psychology (4th ed.).Wiley.
  • Leins, D., Fisher, R. P., & Ross, S. J. (2012). Exploring liars strategies for creating deceptive reports. Legal and Criminological Psychology. doi: 10.1111/j.2044-8333.2011.02041.x
  • Fisher, R. P., Ross, S. J., & Cahill, B. S. (2010). Interviewing witnesses and victims. In P. A. Granhag (Ed.), Forensic psychology in context: Nordic and international approaches (pp. 56-74). Devon, UK: Willan.
  • Malpass, R. S., Ross, S. J., Meissner, C. A., & Marcon, J. L. (2009). The need for expert psychological testimony on eyewitness identification. In B. L. Cutler (Ed.), Expert testimony on the psychology of eyewitness identification. (pp. 3-26). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  • Ross, S. J., & Malpass, R. S. (2008). Moving forward: Response to Studying eyewitness identifications in the field. Law and Human Behavior, 32(1), 16-21.

Selected presentations with students*:

  • Miller, J. E.*, Mooney, K.*, & Ross, S. J. (2013, March). Eyewitness decision-making: Examining the relative influence of the appearance change instruction, unbiased instructions, and sequential presentation on response criterion. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychology-Law Society, Portland, OR.
  • Ross, S. J., Kieckhaefer, J.*, & Cahill, B. S.* (2012, March). Examining the effects of the Appearance Change Instruction on eyewitness decisions: Does the ACI influence ecphoric similarity? Poster accepted for presentation at the annual meeting of the American Psychology-Law Society, San Juan, PR.
  • Ross, S. J., Kieckhaefer, J., & Cahill, B. S. (2011, March). The effects of the Appearance Change Instruction on decision criterion and familiarity-based responding: A dual process signal detection theory evaluation. Poster presented at the 4th International Congress on Psychology and Law, Miami, FL.
  • Ross, S. J., & Fernandez, E. P.* (2011, March). The influence of lineup construction techniques on structural similarity and lineup fairness. Poster presented at the 4th International Congress on Psychology and Law, Miami, FL.
  • Cahill, B. S.*, Kieckhaefer, J.*, & Ross, S. J. (2010, March). Understanding the processes behind the Appearance Change Instruction. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychology-Law Society, Vancouver, BC.
  • Fernandez, E. P.*, Llorens, L.*, Bryant, K.*, & Ross, S. J. (2010, March). The effects of lineup construction technique on the structural similarity of the lineups. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychology-Law Society, Vancouver, BC.


  • American Psychology-Law Society (Div. 41 of APA)
  • Association for Psychological Science
  • Society for Applied Research in Memory and Cognition
  • Society for Personality and Social Psychology