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The University of Southampton
Centre for Risk Research

Risky decisions in criminal adjudication Event

Dr Rebecca K Helm
14:00 - 15:00
11 December 2020
Online, MS Teams

For more information regarding this event, please email Dr Mario Brito at .

Event details


When a person is accused of a criminal offence, they must decide whether to plead guilty or contest their guilt at trial. By pleading guilty they receive a certain conviction, but typically with a reduced sentence compared to what they would receive if convicted at trial. In this way, decisions to plead guilty are very similar to risky choices studied extensively in psychological research, but with the added complication of factual guilt or innocence. Dr Helm will talk about her research studying the psychology of guilty plea decisions in adults and children using risky-choice paradigms. Results suggest defendants may be systematically pleading guilty to crimes they did not commit in predictable conditions, but also that psychological theory and research can provide insight that can ameliorate this problem and reduce wrongful conviction by plea.

Speaker Biography:

Dr Helm is a Senior Lecturer, Clinic Solicitor, and UKRI Future Leaders Fellow at the University of Exeter. She is the founder and director of the Laboratory for Evidence-Based Justice at the University of Exeter Law School, which conducts cognitive science and empirical law research and helps practitioners and policy makers to integrate this research into their work. Dr Helm has a BA in Jurisprudence from the University of Oxford, and a PhD in Developmental Psychology from Cornell University, and is interested in drawing on research in psychology to develop evidence-based procedure in the legal system.

Speaker information

Dr Rebecca K Helm,University of Exeter,Senior Lecturer in Law, Email:

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