Pekka Santtila

Pekka Santtila
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. His research is focused on legal and forensic psychology with a particular interest in investigative issues and forensic sexology. His current research projects focus on improving the quality of forensic interviews with children and establishing the maximum distance and minimum lighting conditions during a crime event that allow a later correct identification by a witness. He is also interested in the effects of abuse experiences and how decisions are made in abuse investigations. Finally, he has done work on behavior genetics and is involved in a research project where the behavioral effects of intragenomic conflict are investigated. 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). 

Research Interests

  • Legal and investigative psychology, human sexuality, child sexual abuse investigations, eyewitness identifications

Recent Publications

  • Alanko, K., Schmidt, A., Neutze, J., Bergen, E., Santtila, P., & Osterheider, M. (2017). Male sexual interest in and offending against children: The abused-abuser hypothesis. Journal of Forensic Psychology: Research and Practice, 17, 128-144.

  • Antfolk, J., Ålgars, M., Holmgård, L., & Santtila, P. (2017). Body dissatisfaction and disordered eating in androphilic and gynephilic men and women. Personality and Individual Differences, 117, 6-10.

  • Holmqvist Jamsen, S., Johansson, A., Westberg, L., Santtila, P., von der Pahlen, B., & Simberg, S. (2017). Associations between vocal symptoms and genetic variants in the oxytocin receptor and vasopressin 1A receptor gene. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, 60, 1843-1854.

  • Krause, N., Pompedda, F., Antfolk, J., Zappalà, A., & Santtila, P. (2017). The effects of feedback and reflection on the questioning style of untrained interviewers in simulated child sexual abuse interviews. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 31, 187-198.

  • Pankkonen, O., Kiiskinen, K., Kaakinen, K. J.,  & Santtila, P. (2017). Understanding of and memory for a complex auditory event: an experimental case study to resolve an evidentiary issue in a trial. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, 28, 70-90.

  • Pezzoli, P., Antfolk, J., & Santtila, P. (2017). Phenotypic factor analysis of psychopathology reveals a new body-related transdiagnostic factor. PLoS ONE, 12, e0177674.

  • Pompedda, F., Antfolk, J., Zappalá, A., & Santtila, P. (2017). A combination of outcome and process feedback enhances performance in simulations of child sexual abuse interviews using avatars. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 1474.

  • Rehan, W., Antfolk, J., Johansson, A., Jern, P., & Santtila, P. (2017) Experiences of severe childhood maltreatment, depression, anxiety and alcohol abuse among adults in Finland. PLoS ONE, 12, e0177252.

  • Tonkin, M., Pakkanen, T., Sirén, J., Bennell, C., Woodhams, J., Burrell, A., Imre, H., Winter, J. M., Lam, E., ten Brinke, G., Webb, M., Labuschagne, G. N., Ashmore-Hills, L., van der Kemp, J. J., Lipponen, S., Rainbow, L., Salfati, C. G., & Santtila, P.  (2017). Using offender crime scene behavior to link stranger sexual assaults: A comparison of three statistical approaches. Journal of Criminal Justice, 50, 19-28.

  • Henningsson, S., Hovey, D., Vass, K., Walum, H., Sandnabba, K., Santtila, P., Jern, P., & Westberg, L. (2017). A missense polymorphism in the putative pheromone receptor gene VN1R1 is associated with sociosexual behavior. Translational psychiatry, 7, e1102.

Courses Taught

  • Legal Psychology


  • PhD in Psychology, Abo Akademi University, Finland (2000)
  • M.Sc. in Investigative Psychology, University of Liverpool, UK (1999)
  • M.A. in Psychology, Abo Akademi University, Finland (1995)


  • Fluent in English, Finnish, Swedish, and Italian
  • Basic skills in German, French, and Spanish