hero image
Joseph Eastwood, PhD - University of Ontario Institute of Technology. Oshawa, ON, CA

Joseph Eastwood, PhD Joseph Eastwood, PhD

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Social Science and Humanities | University of Ontario Institute of Technology

Oshawa, ON, CANADA

Forensic psychologist strengthens ties with law enforcement agencies to create evidence-based, best practices





loading image loading image





Social media’s constant presence has blurred the line and generated influential and critical judgment of how law enforcement officers handle extreme situations as part of their daily work. Consequently, mounting pressure on these agencies to deal with increasingly complex criminal investigations has prompted Joseph Eastwood, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Social Science and Humanities to establish more scientific and evidence-based law enforcement practices. In collaboration with Durham Regional Police Service and law enforcement officers across several provinces, Dr. Eastwood’s research aims to identify issues and develop guidelines to significantly improve the tools and training available to frontline police officers. His goal is to establish a law enforcement research centre at UOIT, and create an online interview-based program for frontline law enforcement officers.

A large part of his research focuses on the plausibility of alibis within criminal investigations including what investigators are looking for when assessing whether it’s true, and the credibility of multiple strangers backing it up. His research will further investigate the content and circumstances of the event leading to an alibi, whether it was salacious, and whether those in question changed their minds midway through their testimony.

Since his appointment to UOIT in 2013, Dr. Eastwood has worked tirelessly to establish partnerships among his faculty with local and provincial law enforcement agencies. His research to enhance the comprehension of legal rights including improving their delivery by frontline officers and the protection of interviewees has been incorporated into law enforcement agencies' training programs in several provinces in Canada. Dr. Eastwood brings unique interviewing techniques and perspective to teaching and learning. Previously, he spent two years as an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

Working alongside a research supervisor and mentor for six years who inspired his interest in perceptions of wrongful conviction, Dr. Eastwood received both his Doctorate and Master of Science in Experimental Social Psychology from Memorial University of Newfoundland. He completed his Bachelor of Arts in Honours Psychology from the University of New Brunswick Saint John, following two years of study in Mount Allison University's Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.

Industry Expertise (8)






Law Enforcement

Program Development

Training and Development

Areas of Expertise (5)

Confessions and Interrogrations

Forensic Psychology

Social Psychology

Investigative Interviewing

Wrongful Confessions

Education (3)

Memorial University of Newfoundland: PhD, Experimental Social Psychology 2011

Memorial University of Newfoundland: MSc, Experimental Social Psychology 2007

University of New Brunswick Saint John: BA, Psychology 2005


Affiliations (2)

  • American Psychology-Law Society
  • International Investigative Interviewing Research Group

Media Appearances (1)

A more mellow police interview: Durham cops team up with UOIT to modernize techniques

Durham Region  online


“It’s not seen as a sexy part of policing, but doing a good solid interview is usually what moves the case along, or solves it,” says Dr. Joseph Eastwood, a forensic psychology researcher at UOIT. He recently teamed up with Durham Regional Police Service on a pilot project to help local cops modernize their interview techniques, using the “PEACE” model, which focuses on preparing well for interviews, making the subject comfortable and asking open-ended questions.

view more

Event Appearances (4)

What Are My Rights Again?": Comprehension of Canadian Youth Waiver Forms

American Psychology Law Society Conference  New Orleans, Louisiana


You Have the Right to Remain Confused: Comprehension of Legal Rights in Police Interrogations

Society for Police and Criminal Psychology Conference  Ottawa, Ontario


“That’s the Way My Wednesdays Always Go”: The Role of Schemas in Innocent Suspects’ Alibi Creation

Society for Police and Criminal Psychology Conference  Ottawa, Ontario


Predicting Police Caution Comprehension in Adult Offenders: What Do They Already Know?

Canadian Psychology Association Conference  Halifax, Nova Scotia


Research Grants (2)

Forensic Psychology

Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) Online Course Development Grant $75000


Dr. Eastwood worked collaboratively with faculty to develop the new online course as part of the Ontario Online initiative of the MTCU.

Improving the Alibi Assessment Process within Police Investigations

SSHRC Insight Development Grant $64803


This research aims to determine the factors that police officers and laypeople consider when deciding whether or not a provided alibi statement was true or false. This includes both factors within the alibi (e.g., wording of the alibi, type of alibi event engaged in) and external factors (e.g., type of corroborating evidence that supported the alibi).

Courses (5)

Forensic Psychology

PSYC 3210U, 2nd Year Undergraduate Course

view more

Social Psychology

PSYC 2020U, 2nd Year Undergraduate Course

view more

Confessions and Interrogations

3310 PSYCU, 3rd Year Undergraduate Course

view more

Special Topics in Investigative Interviewing

4999 PSYCU, 4th Year Undergraduate Course

view more

Introductory Psychology

PSYC 1000U

view more

Articles (10)

Engineering Comprehensible Youth Interrogation Rights New Criminal Law Review: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal


Although youth in many Western countries have been afforded enhanced legal protections when facing police interrogations, the effectiveness of these protections may be limited by youth's inability to comprehend them. The ability to increase the comprehension of Canadian interrogation rights among youth through the simplification of waiver forms was assessed.

view more

Safety in Numbers: A Policy‐Capturing Study of the Alibi Assessment Process Applied Cognitive Psychology


A policy-capturing analysis of alibi assessments was conducted. University students (N= 65), law enforcement students (N= 21), and police officers (N= 11) were provided with 32 statements from individuals supporting a suspect's alibi (ie, alibi corroborators) and asked to assess the believability of the alibi, the suspect's guilt, and whether they would arrest the suspect.

view more

Educating Jurors About Forensic Evidence: Using an Expert Witness and Judicial Instructions to Mitigate the Impact of Invalid Forensic Science Testimony Journal of Forensic Sciences


Invalid expert witness testimony that overstated the precision and accuracy of forensic science procedures has been highlighted as a common factor in many wrongful conviction cases. This study assessed the ability of an opposing expert witness and judicial instructions to mitigate the impact of invalid forensic science testimony.

view more

Measuring the Reading Complexity and Oral Comprehension of Canadian Youth Waiver Forms Crime & Delinquency


The reading complexity of a sample of Canadian police youth waiver forms was assessed, and the oral comprehension of a waiver form was examined. Results showed that participants understood approximately 40 per cent of the information contained in the waiver form. The likelihood of the rights of Canadian youths being protected and the need to create a standardized and comprehensible waiver form are discussed.

view more

The Next Stage in the Evolution of Interrogations: The PEACE Model Canadian Criminal Law Review


In this article, we review the evolution of police interrogation practices. In particular, we echo others that interrogations have historically been guided by a “get tough” philosophy, where abusive and manipulative practices have been viewed as a necessity to seek the truth. We illustrate how such a philosophy runs counter to the presumption of innocence, and review the scientific research that has demonstrated that accusatorial practices puts innocence at risk.

view more

Advancing Legal Literacy: The Effect of Listenability on the Comprehension of Interrogation Rights Legal and Criminological Psychology


This article examines the effect of listenability features on the comprehension of interrogation rights. In Experiment 1, students (N = 76) underwent a mock interrogation where one of two police cautions (listenable caution vs. standard caution) was administered and students were asked to explain the caution in their own words. Experiment 2 (N = 80) extended Experiment 1 by identifying the individual and additive effects of the listenability features on recall of their interrogation rights.

view more

Safeguarding Youth Interrogation Rights: The Effect of Grade Level and Reading Complexity of Youth Waiver Forms on the Comprehension of Legal Rights Applied Cognitive Psychology


The extent to which youths understand their interrogation rights was examined. High school students (N = 160) from five different grades were presented with one of two Canadian youth waiver forms—varying widely in reading complexity—and tested on their knowledge of their legal rights. Results showed that comprehension of both waiver forms was equally deficient, and systematic misunderstandings of vital legal rights were discovered (e.g., the right to remain silent). There was also a positive linear relationship between high school grade level and amount of comprehension. Potential ways to enhance youths' understanding of their rights and provide them protection during interrogations are discussed.

view more

Measuring and Predicting Police Caution Comprehension in Adult Offenders Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice


We measured the level of comprehension of two police cautions in a sample of adult Canadian offenders and predicted comprehension with three measures of cognitive ability (i.e., working memory, vocabulary knowledge, and listening comprehension). Participants (N = 60) were asked to listen to both a right to silence and right to legal counsel caution and then interpret them.

view more

Police Witness Interview Training, Supervision, and Feedback: A Survey of Canadian Police Officers Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice


Despite the recognized importance of intensive training for producing effective police interviewers and the importance of sustained supervision and feedback in maintaining learned interviewing skills, there is no empirical data on the current state of such practices in Canadian police organizations. Canadian police officers (N = 171) from two organizations completed an online survey about the training, supervision, and feedback received for interviewing adult witnesses.

view more

The Effect of Listenability Factors on the Comprehension of Police Cautions Law and Human Behavior


We examined the extent to which modifying a police caution using three listenability factors (Instructions, Listing, and Explanations) improved comprehension. A 2 (Instructions vs. No Instructions) X 2 (Listing vs. No Listing) X 2 (Explanations vs. No Explanations) between-participants design was used. Participants (N = 160) were presented verbally with one of eight cautions and asked to record their understanding of the legal rights contained in the caution.

view more