In 2018 I retired from my position at Flinders University, taking on an appointment as Matthew Flinders Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Psychology. My research has always been in the area of applied experimental psychology. For a decade or more I worked on processing speed in association with mental retardation and other aspects of development. Later my focus shifted to applications of psychology in the criminal justice realm, initially in the organisational domain but later in the area of eyewitness memory. The latter has remained the main focus for the last two decades, with a particular emphasis on the significance of eyewitness metacognitions, specifically confidence, in interpreting eyewitness memories. I am also involved in research in the area of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), including a major project examining cognitive and social characteristics of ASD that may contribute to problematic interactions with the criminal justice system. Both of these research programs are supported by ARC Discovery Project grants.
B.A. (Hons), Ph.D. (Adelaide), FASSA
Fellow, Association for Psychological Science
Fellow, Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia
Editor, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied (2013-2017)
Editorial Boards: American Journal on Mental Retardation (1984-1987), Applied Cognitive Psychology (2006-2012), Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition (2011-2015), Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied (2005-2012), Law and Human Behavior (2005-present), Legal and Criminological Psychology (2005-2012), Psychology, Public Policy and Law (2007-2011), Sage Encyclopedia of Psychology and Law (2006-2008).
Recent Major Grants
2019-2022 ARC Discovery Grant. Principal Investigators: N. Brewer & R. Young. Problematic interactions between autistic adults and the justice system.
2015-2019 ARC Discovery Grant. Principal Investigators: N. Brewer, N. Weber, & G. L. Wells, G. L. Who should join the suspect in a police photoarray?
2014-2016 ARC Discovery Grant. Principal Investigators: M. Palmer, N. Brewer, & J. McCarley, How feedback can impair recognition judgments and undermine border security, criminal investigations, educational testing, and medical screening.
2010-2013 ARC Discovery Grant. Principal Investigators: N. Brewer, N. Weber, & D. S. Lindsay, Identifying the bad guy with deadlined confidence judgments.
2010-2012 ARC Discovery Grant. Principal Investigators: C. Semmler, N. Brewer, & A. Bradfield-Douglass, The distortion of eyewitness identification testimony.
2009-2011 National Science Foundation (USA). Principal Investigators: A. Bradfield-Douglass, N. Brewer, & C. Semmler, The dynamic interaction between investigator and eyewitness: Effects on memory reports and interviewer behavior.
2009-2010 ARC Linkage International Social Sciences Collaboration. Principal Investigators: N. Brewer, F. Gabbert, & L. Hope, Interviewing eyewitnesses.
2008 ARC LIEF Grant. Principal Investigators: N. Brewer, R. Young, N. Weber, A. Ma-Wyatt, C. Semmler, & R. McKinnon, A multi-function eye-tracker facility.
2007-2009 ARC Discovery Grant. Principal Investigators: R. Nixon & N. Brewer, Children’s memory for traumatic events.
2005-2009 ARC Discovery Grant. Principal Investigators: N. Brewer, G. L. Wells, & N. Weber. Eyewitness identification: Metacognitive influences on choosing.
My major research focus is eyewitness memory, including eyewitness identification, recall, and confidence. I also collaborate on research on early assessment and adult criminal vulnerability in the area of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
My professional service has been quite wide-ranging, including serving on the ARC College of Experts, the Peer Review College of the Economic & Social Research Council (UK), as well as research grant reviewing for various international funding agencies. I have served on the Editorial Boards of all the major psychology-law journals.
I am a regular invited presenter at Australian conferences and professional development sessions for judges, magistrates, lawyers and police. My research has been cited in various legal judgments in Australia and overseas, and I am sought by police and government for advice on the development of protocols for eyewitness identification testing.