University of Florida | Department of Psychology

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Brian Cahill

June 14th, 2017


Dr. Brian Cahill is currently a lecturer for the University of Florida Department of Psychology, a position that he has held since 2016. Dr. Cahill graduated from Florida International University (FIU) in 2015 with a PhD in Legal Psychology, in 2008 with a Master of Arts Degree in Experimental Psychology from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and in 2005 with his Bachelor’s Degree from Illinois State University in Psychology. Dr. Cahill’s main passion is teaching, and in his opinion, “there is no other profession as rewarding as a teacher. Every day I get to help shape and foster the most amazing young women and men who will be the future of our world.” Although Dr. Cahill loves teaching all of his classes, there are two that stand out as his favorites: Legal Psychology and Research Methods. As he states, “In Legal Psychology I am able to bring to light all of the issues we have in our legal system and teach students how they can make a difference to help solve these issues. In Research Methods I am able to teach my students how to be critical thinkers and how to become both a consumer and producer of research.”

Dr. Cahill’s main research focus is based on the ways in which social and cognitive psychology interact with the legal system. He is primarily interested in understanding how both cognitive and social factors affect an eyewitness’s decision-making during a lineup task. He also explores how jurors integrate different types of evidence in their decision-making and reasoning about a verdict. Lastly, Dr. Cahill is interested in taking a social-cognitive approach to detecting deception in suspects. Now, why is this research so important to him? Dr. Cahill believes, “In life there are few things worse than losing your freedom by being incarcerated for a crime that you did not commit. Not only does the individual suffer, greatly, but so does their family and the victim and/or the victim’s family. Also, society suffers as the actual perpetrator remains free to harm countless others. Knowing that my research (and applied work) may one day help prevent a wrongful conviction while also helping investigators to apprehend the actual perpetrator is why I teach and conduct research in this field.” Dr. Cahill’s favorite research finding is a counter-intuitive one. Research shows that witnesses who have quick, automatic recognition experiences when viewing a lineup tend to make more accurate decisions than witnesses who engage in slower, more deliberative processes. Based upon the research Dr. Cahill and colleagues predicted a novel postdictor of identification accuracy: memories for lineup fillers should be stronger among inaccurate, rather than accurate, witnesses. Consistent with predictions, he found that better memories for lineup fillers postdicted mistaken identifications and the suspect’s innocence.

What exactly inspired Dr. Cahill to pursue a career in Psychology? According to him, “Ever since I can remember I have been fascinated in human behavior. But it wasn’t until I took Intro to Psychology my freshman year in college from Dr. Valerie Farmer-Dougan that I fell in love with Psychology. She was an amazing professor and an everlasting reminder of the possible impact I may have on any one of my students which is why I constantly strive to be the best professor I can be.” Outside of his work in the Psychology Department, Dr. Cahill enjoys an active lifestyle by camping, kayaking, backpacking, fishing, and hunting while spending time with his wife and their dog Pepper. He also loves going to a variety of music concerts/festivals and cooking, especially Thanksgiving dinner.

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