Pekka Santtila

Pekka Santtila
Co-Director, NYU-ECNU Institute for Social Development; Professor of Psychology, NYU Shanghai; Global Network Professor, NYU

Professor Santtila is Professor of Psychology, NYU Shanghai; Global Network Professor, NYU. Previously, he was Professor of Applied Psychology and Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Psychology and Theology at the Åbo Akademi University in Finland. Santtila also serves as the Co-Director of the NYU-ECNU Institute for Social Development at NYU Shanghai.

His research is focused on legal psychology and on human sexuality. His current legal psychological research aims at improving the quality of investigative interviews using simulated interviews with avatars. His research into human sexuality aims to understand and develop treatments for sexual dysfunctions with a particular focus on understanding how sexual arousal interplays with the feeling of disgust. 

Professor Santtila has provided investigative advice to the police, acted as an expert witness in numerous legal cases and consulted child sexual abuse investigations. He is a licensed psychologist and specialist in legal psychology (Finland).


Select Publications

  • Dotterer, H., Vazquez, A., Hyde, L., Neumann, C., Santtila, P., Pezzoli, P., . . . Burt, S. (2021). Elucidating the role of negative parenting in the genetic v. environmental influences on adult psychopathic traits. Psychological Medicine, 1-11. doi:10.1017/S0033291721002269

  • Haginoya, S., Yamamoto, S., & Santtila, P. (2021). The Combination of Feedback and Modeling in Online Simulation Training of Child Sexual Abuse Interviews Improves Interview Quality in Clinical Psychologists. Child Abuse & Neglect. 

  • Nyman, T. J., Antfolk, J., Lampinen, J., Korkman, J., & Santtila, P. (2020) Eyewitness identifications after witnessing threatening and non-threatening scenes in 360-degree virtual reality (or 2D) from first and third person perspectives. PLoS ONE 15(9): e0238292.

  • Nyman, T. J., Lampinen, J. M., Antfolk, J., Korkman, J., & Santtila, P. (2019). The distance threshold of reliable eyewitness identification. Law and Human Behavior, 43(6), 527-541. 

  • Pompedda, F., Palu, A., Kask, K., Schiff, K., Soveri, A., Antfolk, J., & Santtila, P. (2020). Transfer of simulated interview training effects into interviews with children exposed to a mock event. Nordic Psychology. DOI: 10.1080/19012276.2020.1788417. Advanced Online Publication.

  • Tadei, A., Pensar, J., Corander, J., Finnilä, K., Santtila, P., & Antfolk, J. (2019). A Bayesian decision-support tool for child sexual abuse assessment and investigation. Sexual Abuse, 31, 4, 374-396. 


  • PhD, Psychology
    Abo Akademi University, Finland
  • MSc, Investigative Psychology
    University of Liverpool, UK
  • MA, Psychology
    Abo Akademi University, Finland

Research Interests

  • Legal and Investigative Psychology
  • Human Sexuality
  • Child Sexual Abuse Investigations
  • Eyewitness identifications

Courses Taught

  • Capstone Seminar: Psychology and Global Health
  • Empirical Research Practice
  • Legal Psychology
  • Psychology of Human Sexuality
  • Social Science Honors Independent Study