Pekka Santtila

Professor of Psychology 
NYU Shanghai

Global Network Professor


Professor Santtila is a Professor of Psychology at NYU Shanghai. Previously, he was Professor of Applied Psychology and Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Psychology and Theology at the Åbo Akademi University in Finland. His research is focused on legal and forensic psychology with a particular interest in investigative issues and forensic sexology. His current research projects focus on improving the quality of forensic interviews with children and establishing the maximum distance and minimum lighting conditions during a crime event that allow a later correct identification by a witness. He is also interested in the effects of abuse experiences and how decisions are made in abuse investigations. Finally, he has done work on behavior genetics and is involved in a research project where the behavioral effects of intragenomic conflict are investigated. Professor Santtila has provided investigative advice to the police, acted as an expert witness in numerous legal cases and consulted child sexual abuse investigations. He is a licensed psychologist and specialist in legal psychology (Finland). 

Research Interests

Legal and investigative psychology, human sexuality, child sexual abuse investigations, eyewitness identifications

Recent Publications

  • Alanko, K., Schmidt, A., Neutze, J., Bergen, E., Santtila, P., & Osterheider, M. (2017). Male sexual interest in and offending against children: The abused-abuser hypothesis. Journal of Forensic Psychology: Research and Practice, 17, 128-144. 
  • Antfolk, J., Ålgars, M., Holmgård, L., & Santtila, P. (2017). Body dissatisfaction and disordered eating in androphilic and gynephilic men and women. Personality and Individual Differences, 117, 6-10.
  • Holmqvist, S., Johansson, A., Westberg, L., Santtila, P., von der Pahlen, B., & Simberg, S. (in press). Associations between vocal symptoms and genetic variants in the oxytocin receptor and vasopressin 1A receptor gene. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research. 
  • Krause, N., Pompedda, F., Antfolk, J., Zappalà, A., & Santtila, P. (2017). The effects of feedback and reflection on the questioning style of untrained interviewers in simulated child sexual abuse interviews. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 31, 187-198.
  • Pezzoli, P., Antfolk, J., & Santtila, P. (accepted). Phenotypic Factor Analysis of Psychopathology Reveals a New Body-related Transdiagnostic Factor. PLOS One.
  • Rehan, W., Antfolk, J., Johansson, A., Jern, P., & Santtila, P. (2017) Experiences of severe childhood maltreatment, depression, anxiety and alcohol abuse among adults in Finland. PLoS ONE 12(5), e0177252.
  • Schmitt et al. … Santtila, P…. et al. (2017). Narcissism and the Strategic Pursuit of Short-Term Mating: Universal Links across 11 World Regions of the International Sexuality Description Project-2. Psychological Topics, 26, 89-137.
  • Tonkin, M., Pakkanen, T., Sirén, J., Bennell, C., Woodhams, J., Burrell, A., Imre, H., Winter, J. M., Lam, E., ten Brinke, G., Webb, M., Labuschagne, G. N., Ashmore-Hills, L., van der Kemp, J. J., Lipponen, S., Rainbow, L., Salfati, C. G., & Santtila, P.  (2017). Using offender crime scene behavior to link stranger sexual assaults: A comparison of three statistical approaches. Journal of Criminal Justice, 50, 19-28.
  • Westberg, L., Henningsson, S., Hovey, D., Vass, K., Sandnabba, K., Santtila, P., Jern, P., & Walum, H., (2017). A missense polymorphism in the putative pheromone receptor gene VN1R1 is associated with sosiosexual behavior. Translational psychiatry, 7, e1102.

Courses Taught

  • Legal Psychology


  • Ph.D. in Psychology, Abo Akademi University, Finland (2000)
  • M.Sc. in Investigative Psychology, University of Liverpool, UK (1999)
  • M.A. in Psychology, Abo Akademi University, Finland (1995)


  • Fluent in English, Finnish, Swedish, and Italian
  • Basic skills in German, French, and Spanish