Professor Heather D. Flowe PhD

Professor Heather D. Flowe

Professor of Psychology

Contact details

School of Psychology
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Professor Heather Flowe’s research is centered on understanding episodic memory, particularly witness memory retrieval processes, using both experimental and applied approaches. She develops memory enhancing, broad reach, low-cost procedures that are integrated into legal systems around the world, such as VR 3D Interactive lineups.

Heather is the Director of Global Engagement for the College of Life and Environmental Sciences, the Gender Equality Theme Lead at the Institute for Global Innovation, and the Co-Director of the Centre for Crime Justice and Policing (Victims and Trauma), and a member of the ESRC Grant Assessment Panel (A). Heather is a chartered psychologist.


PhD in Experimental Psychology, University of California, San Diego


Professor Heather Flowe joined the University of Birmingham in 2017.

Heather’s PhD in Experimental Psychology was awarded by the University of California, San Diego and supported by a National Science Foundation postgraduate studentship award. After a University of California Faculty Fellowship, she joined the University of Leicester as a Lecturer in Forensic Psychology. She served as the Chair of the University Ethics Committee, her work was featured in a REF 2014 Impact Case Study, and she served as Impact Case Study Coordinator for Psychology. She then joined Loughborough University as a Senior Lecturer, and was appointed Deputy Associate Dean (Enterprise) in the School of Sport, Exercise, and Health Sciences, where she led impact case study development for more than 200 academic staff in SportEx, Psychology, Biology, Anthropology, and other disciplines.

Heather has been awarded research grants worth over £4.2 million. She presently holds research grant awards from the ESRC and the AHRC. Past research sponsors have included the Home Office, the British Academy, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the Health Foundation, the Nuffield Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, and Alcohol Research, UK.  Her work has been covered in the media, including the Guardian, Science Daily, the BBC, Criminal Justice and Law Weekly, and other international outlets, and her research impacts upon on policy and practice with respect to evidence-based practices used by the police and prosecutors in gathering witness and victim memory evidence. For examples, her work features in CPS guidance for prosecutors in evaluating the testimony of victims of rape and other serious sexual offences who were alcohol intoxicated during the crime, as well as in international guidance from the UKs Foreign and Commonwealth Office for the documentation and investigation of sexual violence in conflict.

Heather is a mid-career British Academy Midcareer Fellow (2019-2020), which has supported her work on rape victim-survivor memory retrieval processes during police interviews.

Heather is a member of the Editorial Board for Psychology Public Policy and Law, and Consulting Editor for Cognitive Research in the Public Interest. 

Heather is a member of the ESRC Grant Assessment Panel for Geography and Psychology (Panel A|), and reviews grant proposals from the British Academy, the Canadian Research Council, the National Science Foundation, the Irish Research Council, among others.


Heather’s courses are consistently rated very highly by students, and by peer evaluation. She holds a Distinguished Teaching award from the University of California San Diego Academic Senate. More than 55 of her MSc in Forensic and Legal Psychology students and 13 of her MSc Psychology Research Methods students have successfully completed.

Heather has taught modules and supervised students on the Forensic Psychology Practice Doctorate course and on the MSc Psychology course.

Heather has also served as sole convenor and assessor for 11 different undergraduate modules, including: Legal Psychology, Criminal Psychology, Criminology, Social Psychology, Introduction to Social Psychology, Introduction to Statistics, Introduction to Psychology, Introduction to Statistics, Research Methods, Advanced Data Analysis; Tests and Measurement; and Clinical Psychology. 

Heather was the Course Director for the MSc Assessment and Treatment of Sex Offenders from 2008-2012. 

Heather was appointed as the external examiner for the MSc in Forensic Psychology at the University of Gloucester from 2017-2021.

Postgraduate supervision

Professor Heather Flowe supervises projects on episodic memory retrieval, particularly experimental research that can be applied to the context of the legal system. Past and present projects include:

  • eyewitness identification
  • forensic face matching
  • face recognition
  • remembering rape and other traumatic events
  • investigative interviewing
  • alcohol and other drugs on memory
  • rape case adjudication
  • prosecutorial decision making
  • risk taking in women
  • trauma interventions
  • metacognition
  • domestic violence interventions

Heather would be pleased to hear from prospective PhD students. She also enjoys working with undergraduate and MSc students. Nearly all her publications have included student authors.

Heather is also pleased to host postdoctoral students, faculty, and other visitors. Recent lab visitors have been from Italy, Pakistan, Australia, Kenya, and the United States.


Heather currently has two main lines of research:

Sexual Violence

Heather is investigating the memory retrieval strategies during police interview procedures in laboratory research, and testing methods of preserving and protecting the memory evidence of rape victim survivors in field research. She also has investigated the role of victim and eyewitness statements and testimony in case investigations and adjudication. In addition to projects in the UK and the US, Heather also has projects in the Global South, innovating solutions to gathering survivor testimony in documenting and investigating sexual violence cases in low resource environments, such as with the Wangu Kanja Foundation in Kenya. 

Heather is the PI for the UKRI GCRF Rights for Time Network+ which is commissioning research on humanitarian protection initiatives in the Global South.

ID Parades and Lineups

Heather and her colleagues are innovating new criminal identification procedures, such as 3D interactive virtual reality lineups to improve the accuracy and reliability of eyewitness identification. This addresses fundamental questions such as how faces are represented in long-term memory and discovering effective cues for enhancing memory retrieval. This line of research also considers the effects of own race bias, alcohol intoxication, and development on identification accuracy and reliability.

Research Funding

Heather has attracted over £4.2 million for her research. Current research projects are supported by the ESRC and the AHRC.


Visit to download papers.

Journal articles since 2020; see Heather’s personal website for earlier papers:

Gordon, R., Cheeseman, C., Rockowitz, S. Stevens, L, & Flowe, H. (In press). Government Responses to Gender-Based Violence during COVID-19. Frontiers in Global Women's Health.

Dorison, C. et al. (In press). In COVID-19 health messaging, loss framing increases anxiety with little-to-no concomitant benefits: Experimental evidence from 84 countries. Affective Science.

Nguyen, T. et al. (In press). A global experiment on motivating social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Stevens, L., Reid, E., Kanja, W., Rockowitz, S., Davies, K., Dosanjh, S., Findel, B., & Flowe, H. D. (2022). The Kenyan Survivors of Sexual Violence Network: Preserving memory evidence with a bespoke mobile application to increase access to vital services and justice. [Special Issue Collaborative Community Approaches to Addressing Serious Violence], Societies, 12(1), 12;

Hett, D., Takarangi, M. K. T., & Flowe, H. D. (2022). The effects of computerised metacognitive cognitive bias modification training on the development of adaptive metacognitive beliefs and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 75, 10176.

Hope, L. et al. (2022). Urgent issues and Prospects: Examining the role of culture in the investigative interviewing of victims and witnesses. Legal and Criminological Psychology. 27,  1-31.

Zidan, J., Rockowitz, S., Flowe, H. D. Stevens, L. M., Wangu, K., & Davies, K. (2022). Reflections on increasing the value of data on sexual violence incidents against children to better prevent and respond to offending in Kenya. Societies,12(3), 89;

Christie, C. Karavias, Y., Bandyopadhyay, S., Bradbury-Jones, C., Taylor, J., Kane, E., & Flowe, H. D. (2022). The CARA (Cautioning and Relationship Abuse) Service Theory of change, impact evaluation and economic benefits study report. Home Office.

Colloff, M. F., Flowe, H. D., Smith, H. J., Seale-Carlisle, T. M., Meissner, C. A., Rockey, J. C., Pande, B., Kujur, P., Parveen, N., Chandel, P., Singh, M. M., Pradhan, & S., Parganiha, A. (2022). Active exploration of faces in police lineups increases discrimination accuracy for own- and other- race faces. American Psychologist.

Rockey, J., Smith, H., & Flowe, H. (2021). The moral hazard of beauty: Evidence from the UK parliamentary expenses scandal. Leadership Quarterly. 

Windsor, A., Flowe, H. D., Seale-Carlisle, T. M., Hett, D., Jores, T., Lee, B., Stevens, L., Condruz, N., & Colloff, M. F.  (In press). Children’s expressions of certainty are informative.  Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

Rockowitz, S., Stevens, L. M., Rockey, J. C., Smith, L. L., Ritchie, J., Colloff, M. F., Kanja, W., Cotton, Njoroge, D., Kamau, C., & Flowe, H. D. (2021). Patterns of Sexual Violence Against Adults and Children during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Kenya: A prospective cross-sectional study. BMJ-Open,1(9):e048636. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-048636. 

Colloff, M. F., Wilson, B. M., & Flowe, H. D. (2021). Legal System v. Eyewitness: The jury is still out for who is better able to reduce eyewitness error (variance). Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 10, 200-204. 

Monds, L. A., Cullen, H. J., Kloft, L., van Golde, C., PhD, Harrison, A., & Flowe, H. D. (2021). Memory and Credibility Perceptions of Alcohol and Other Drug Intoxicated Witnesses and Victims of Crime. Psychology, Crime, & Law.

Colloff, M., Seale-Carlisle, T. M., *Karoğlu, N., Rockey, J. C., Smith, H. M. J., Smith, L., Maltby, J., Yaremenko, S., & Flowe, H. D. (2021). Perpetrator pose reinstatement during a lineup test increases discrimination accuracy. Nature Scientific Reports, 11(1):13830. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-92509-0.

Wang, K., Goldenberg, A., Dorison, C.A. et al. (2021).  A multi-country test of brief reappraisal interventions on emotions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nature Human Behavior, 5, 1089–1110.

Flowe, H. D., & Schreiber Compo, N. (2021). The lack of robust evidence for the effects of alcohol on false memory. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 127, 332-333.

Dajani, R., Flowe, H. D., & Warwick, M. (2021).  Social and political justice hit by UK aid cuts. Nature, 592, 353. doi: 10.1038/d41586-021-00955-7

Smith, H. M. J., Andrews, S., Baguley, T. S., Colloff, M. F., Davis, J. P., White, D. & Flowe, H. D. (2021).  Performance of typical and superior face recognisers on a novel interactive face matching procedure. British Journal of Psychology, 112, 964-991.

Rockowitz, S., Flowe, H. & Bradbury-Jones, C. (2021). Post-rape medicolegal service provision and policy in East Africa: a scoping review protocol. BMC Systematic Reviews, 10, 63.

Stevens, L. M., Rockey, J. C., Rockowitz, S., Kanja, W., Colloff, M., & Flowe, H. D. (2021). Protecting Children from Sexual Violence during COVID-19. Frontiers in Global Women’s Health.

Yıldırım, M., Davison, E., Flowe, H.D. et al. (2021). Reconsidering Valuing Happiness: the Application of Goal Type Theory. International Journal of Mental Health Addiction.

Jones, B.C., DeBruine, L.M., Flake, J.K. et al. (2021). To which world regions does the valence–dominance model of social perception apply? Nature Human Behavior, 5, 159-169.

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