Dr Melissa de Vel-Palumbo

Senior Lecturer

College of Business, Government and Law

place Law & Commerce (3.35)
GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia

Broadly speaking, I research psychological processes relevant to the understanding, prevention, and management of criminal behaviour. I employ both quantitative and qualitative methods to investigate two key research areas.

(1) My first key area of research is the reintegration and rehabilitation of people who have committed crime. I investigate the social-psychological factors that promote prosocial attitudinal and behavioural change, principally within correctional settings. I am particularly interested in the role of identity change in promoting desistance from crime, and in the symbolic/communicative function(s) of punishment.

(2) A second major research stream involves examining lay beliefs about crime. I am particularly interested in psychological biases that influence people’s moral judgments and thinking about justice. Such beliefs likely affect the decisions and practices of people who work in the criminal justice system (e.g., police officers, judges, correctional officers) as well as feeding into broader societal attitudes and discourses about crime and criminal justice policy.


Doctor of Philosophy (Psychology) - 2018 (Flinders University)
Master of Psychology (Forensic) - 2012 (UNSW)
Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) - 2009 (Adelaide University)

Honours, awards and grants

Grants-in-Aid for Early Career Professionals - 2021-2022 (American Psychology-Law Society APA Division 41) with Dr. Colleen Berryessa, Rutgers University
Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship - 2019-2020 (European Commission)

Topic coordinator
CRIM1102 Criminal justice system
CRIM3402 Advanced research methods and analysis
Supervisory interests
Cognitive biases
Desistance from crime
Moral and social philosophy
Politics, voting and political behaviour/public opinion
Psychology and law
Expert for media contact
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0427 398 713
Media expertise
  • Crime
  • Morality
  • Psychology
  • Rehabilitation