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Director of the Centre for Critical and Major Incident Psychology, University of Liverpool

Laurence Alison has an international track record of publishing on the subject of high stakes decision making, investigative profiling and investigative interviewing.

His core area of interest is social cognition and the processes by which individuals make sense of uncertain, high risk, ambiguous, complex or contradictory information, with special reference to decision inertia, anticipatory thinking and the use of simulated environments and debriefing tools to train practitioners to overcome decision inertia and to increase the efficacy of multi agency communication.

He graduated from Liverpool University with a PhD in 1998, was a lecturer in Forensic Psychology at the University of Liverpool until 2000 when he was appointed as a Senior Lecturer at University of Birmingham and returned to Liverpool and appointed as Chair of Forensic and Investigative Psychology in 2004.

He works within the Psychology, Society and Health Institute, where he also serves as one of 5 Security and Conflict Champions and as one of the members of the recently formed Risk Institute. Emerging, cross faculty work includes an examination of the cognitive workload involved in retargeting mid range air to ground missiles (with Dr Ralph, engineering); the threat of CBRN weapons and their impact on decision making with Prof Gosden (Division of Pathology) mechanisms to communicate risk (with Prof Beer, engineering), argument structures in risk/threat decisions (Dr Grasso, Computer Science). He is currently also involved in a project examining decision making and interviewing with high value detainees and is about to assist Kent Police Authority in the national roll out (Spring, 2012) of a risk prioritization tool for internet sex offenders developed by University of Liverpool and Kent Police.


  • –present
    Director of the Centre for Critical and Major Incident Psychology, University of Liverpool