Professor Robert J Snowden BSc York PhD Cantab

Professor Robert J Snowden

BSc York PhD Cantab

Professor

School of Psychology

Email:
snowden@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone:
+44 (0)29 2087 4937
Location:
Tower Building, 70 Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3AT
Media commentator
Available for postgraduate supervision

My interests are in serious offending. I look at methods of understanding why this occurs at the cognitive and behavioural level (what are the thoughts and motivations behind these action) as well as the biological underpinnings of these behaviours.

My research mainly covers violence (including murder) and sexual violence (rape, child molestation, paedophilia, etc). I therefore have interests in concepts such as psychopaths, personality disorders and mental illness as it relates to offending and violence.

I run courses for professionals on risk assessment of violence in offenders and mentally disordered offenders.

I have an interest in human sexuality and sexual interests which include both normal interests (heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, etc) as well as deviant sexual interests (eg, paedophilia and other paraphilias).

I also conduct research of vision and visual perception and am the author of the textbook "Basic Vision" (OUP).

Undergraduate education

York University – BSc Psychology (1985)

Postgraduate education

Cambridge University – PhD Experimental Psychology (1989)

Employment

Post-doctoral research Fellow Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Professional memberships

  • Society for the Scientific Study of Psychopathy.

Academic positions

  • Post-doctoral research fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Speaking engagements

Interviews with 20/20 (American TV) and several programmes in UK. Around 100 radio interviews.

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Level 1 - module coordinator for PS1016 Introduction to Psychology. Lectures on 'What is Psychology?'  and Forensic Psychology.

Level 2 - module coordinator for PS2009 Perception. Lectures on visual perception.

Level 3 - module coordinator for PS3500 Forensic Psychology. Lectures on violence, sex offending, psychopathy and risk assessment.

Research topics and related papers

Forensic and Clinical Psychology

My laboratory investigates the origins and management of severe problem behaviours. These include violence to others, sexual offending, suicide and self-harming behaviours.

On-going projects include:

  • Use of structured professional judgment and actuarial assessment of future violence in mentally disordered offenders.
  • Development of a clinical battery of test for a Personality Disorder Service.
  • RAPID (Risk of Aggression Protocol for Intellectual Disabilities): Development of a screening tool for violence in learning disability services
  • Self-esteem, parental bonding and sexual offending
  • Self-esteem and aggression
  • Self-harming behaviours in Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Prediction of suicide using the RoSP (Risk of Suicide Protocol)
  • Emotional processing and intelligence in psychopathic offenders
  • Implicit measurement of sex-related cognitions in normal populations (hetero and homosexual men and women)
  • Impulsivity, psychopathy and personality disorders
  • Perceptual sensitivity, strength of the nervous system and psychopathology
  • Use of implicit measures

Vision and visual attention

My work here has slowed down in the past years due to the increasing load in the field of forensic and clinical psychology. Nevertheless, I still have projects looking at motion perception and of the effects of visual attention. I also have an interest in the effects of aging and Alzheimer’s Disease on these processes.

Funding

Partnerships in Care PLC
Pastoral Cymru

Research collaborators

All the work in the domain of Forensic and Clinical Psychology is done in collaboration with a Chartered Clinical and Forsensic psychologist (Professor Nicola Gray). We work closely with two independent providers of mental health services – Partnerships in Care (PiC) and Pastoral Cymru. They not only help provide the funds to do this work but aid greatly in access to participants. The work also involves many other hospitals (e.g, Llanarth Court, The Dene, Cefn Coed, Caswell Clinic), prisons (HMP Usk, HMP Grendon, Parc Prison) and other services (e.g, Gwent Learning Disability Service).

I have a longstanding collaboration with Dr Andrea Tales (Bristol University) on visual attention and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Postgraduate research interests

My research aims to help understand, predict and manage patients with severe behavioural problems
due to mental health issues (psychopathy, personality disorders, mental illness).

The major strands of my work are:

  • Prediction and prevention of future violence and sexual violence to others
  • Prediction and prevention of suicide and self-harm
  • Understanding motivations and cognitions underpinning severe behavioural problems through
    the use of explicit and implicit methodologies
  • Understanding neuropsychological deficits underpinning severe behavioural problems (e.g.,
    impulsivity).

The research is conducted in collaboration with a clinical and forensic psychologist (Professor Nicola Gray), and has strong links to secure units (Pastoral Cymru, and Partnerships in Care), as well as local hospitals, prisons and community services.

Motion perception: including the perception of speed, and how contrast effects (e.g. fog) and light interact to alter our perception of speed; The effects of old age on the visual system; Visual processes in various conditions (glaucoma, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease).

If you are interested in applying for a PhD, or for further information  regarding my postgraduate research, please contact me directly (contact details available on the 'Overview' page), or submit a formal application here.

Current students

Suzana Ahmad - Self-esteem and violence : a cross cultural examination of models of violence.

Daniel  Burley - Pupillometry and personality disorder

Katie  O'Farrell - Emotional processing and psychopathy

Also advisor to:

Richard Benson – Use of implicit measures  of cognition in self-harm and personality disorders (University of Glamorgan)

Jenny Clarke – Risk of Suicide Protocol (RoSP): an evaluation of reliability and validity (University of Glamorgan)

Past projects

  • Peter T. Brawn - Selectively attending to colour and objects. PhD Cardiff University (1998)
  • Mark R. Blakemore - Factors involved in the perception of motion. PhD Cardiff University (1998)
  • Melanie C. Doyle - Facilitatory effects of response-irrelevant sound upon the acquisition of visual targets. PhD Cardiff University (1999)
  • Jennifer Willey - Exploration of the role of attentional processing in the positive symptoms of schizophrenia and schizotypy. PhD Cardiff University (2001)
  • Emma Kavanagh - The perception of motion in old age.  PhD Cardiff University (2003)
  • Jan Wichter - Supra- and subliminal priming  of implicit attitudes – a tool for detecting deviant personalities. MPhil Cardiff University (2004)
  • Jennifer Smith - Differentiating criminal personalities by use of implicit attitude tests. MPhil Cardiff University (2005)
  • Lisa Evans - Cognitive inhibition in schizophrenia and schizotypy. PhD Cardiff University (2005)
  • Anthony Brown - Implicit measurements of child-sex associations in paedophiles. PhD Cardiff University (2006)
  • Suzanne Fitzgerald - Risk assessment in the learning disabled. PhD Cardiff University (2008)
  • Elizabeth Andrew - Command hallucinations: compliance and dangerousness. PhD Cardiff University (2010)
  • Rebecca Pepper - Attachment, self-esteem and cognitive distortions in child molesters.
  • Sonja Copestake - Emotional processing and psychopathy.

Areas of expertise