Is the accused innocent or guilty? Are the witnesses trustworthy? What factors contribute to wrongful convictions? These are all important questions that have tremendous implications for not only individuals, but the society as a whole. Although students may think that Psychology and Law are two totally separate fields, the ongoing research projects conducted by Dr. Metzger and his research assistants are telling us otherwise.

Dr. Richard Metzger

To our surprise, it turns out that Psychology and Law are closely related. Trained in cognitive psychology, Dr. Metzger is leading his research assistants on a few projects that highlight the complex interplay between psychological factors and law. In one project, Dr. Metzger and his team are investigating the extent to which the presence of a cell phone during a crime may affect a witness’s ability to identify the perpetrator. In another project, they are carefully examining factors that may influence the number of appeals as well as the number of cases when people were falsely accused.

Dr. Metzger and some of his research assistants: Danielle Gershman, Bryce Merkt, and Cole Simmons

Under Dr. Metzger’s guidance, Hanne Wilburn (’19 Psychology), Danielle Gershman (’19 Psychology), and Becky Staller (’20 Psychology) presented their poster titled “The mere presence effect 1: Changes in the operation span as a result of phone condition” at the Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) and received the Psi Chi Regional Research Award for this outstanding poster presentation.

Congratulations to Hanne Wilburn!

Dr. Metzger’s research assistants all have so much to say about their experience working with him. For example, Cole Simmons says that Dr. Metzger is an outstanding mentor and is fair and understanding. He always encourages students to share their own thoughts and ideas. For Dr. Metzger, he is delighted that all of his research assistants have stepped up, gotten more involved, and thought deeply about how to use their research experience for their future endeavors.

Interested in learning more about Dr. Metzger’s Psych & Law Research Team? Email him at

Written by: Semira Nock