Computer Laboratory

Sophie Van Der Zee

Security Group


I am a Research Associate in the Security Group of Cambridge University's Computer Laboratory, working on the Deterrence of Deception project led by Prof. Ross Anderson. This project is aimed at understanding how deception in online settings is different from face-to-face lying. In addition to my work as a post-doctoral researcher in Cambridge, I also have two Honorary Research Fellowships. Per the first of October 2014, I will start as an honorary Research Associate at King's College, Cambridge. Together with my colleague David Modic I will work on a research project on identifying victims and perpetrators of Internet Fraud: To deceive or be deceived. The second Honorary Research Fellowship concerns another practical application of social psychology research. Within the Department of Medical and Sport Sciences at Cumbria University in the UK, I am involved in Health Psychology related research on topics such as pain perception and self-image.

I hold a PhD in Forensic and Social Psychology from Lancaster University, UK, for which I used motion capture equipment to measure if nonverbal mimicry is affected by lying. Previous education includes a Master's degree in Psychology and Law (Honors/Cum Laude) from Maastricht University in the Netherlands, and a Bachelor degree in Social Psychology from Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

My research focuses on different aspects of deception. During my PhD I investigated the interpersonal aspects of lying measured automatically using motion capture equipment. Combining technology and forensic psychology has introduced me to the benefits of interdisciplinary research and I extended this approach during my post-doc research. Currently, rather than focusing on how to detect deceit, I am interested in the more fundamental question of why people lie. The aim is to disentangle which factors contribute to a person’s decision to lie, and consequently, to test if this information can be used to deter people from lying.

Current Research Projects

  • Restoring the Balance - Do feelings of unfairness affect lie tendency?
  • Deceitful Eyes? - Can saccadic eye-movement be used to detect deceit?
  • Deceptiveness Scale Construction - Are some people more deceptive than others?
  • Real Estate Scams - How scammers are renting out apartments they do not own

Previous Research Projects

  • Automated Measurement and Analysis of Body motion (AMAB) - Tired of coding videos? Good news! We created a method to automatically measure human behaviour with the use of motion capture equipment.
  • We copy when we lie - How is nonverbal mimicry affected by lying?
  • Deception across borders - How does cultural background affect the telling and detecting of lies?


Poppe, R., Van Der Zee, S., Heylen, D., & Taylor, P. J. (2014). AMAB: Automated measurement and analysis of body motion. Behavior Research Methods, 46, 625-633. doi: 10.3758/s13428-013-0398-y. PDF

Van Der Zee, S. (2013). The effect of cognitive load on nonverbal mimicry in interview settings (Unpublished doctoral thesis). Lancaster, UK: Lancaster University.

Taylor, P. J., Tomblin, S., Conchie, S., & Van Der Zee, S. (2014). Cross-cultural deception detection. In Vrij, A., Granhag, P. A., & Verschuere, B. (Eds.), Deception detection. Chichester: Wiley Blackwell.

Conference Presentations, Workshops and Academic Talks

Oral Conference Presentation, "Restoring the Balance: How feelings of injustice affect lie tendency", the European Association of Psychology and Law (EAPL) 2014 conference, St. Petersburg, Russia. Program & Blogged abstracts.

Oral Workshop Presentation, "When lying feels the right thing to do", Workshop on Security and Human Behaviour (SHB), 2014, Cambridge, UK. Program, Blogged abstracts & Audio recordings.

Seminar Talk, "Forensic psychology and computing: Friend or foe?", Forensic Psychology Reading Group, Cambridge University, UK (2014).

Invited Talk, “Bringing Hollywood into the interrogation room: How forensic psychology can benefit from technological advances”, Psychology department, University of Bedfordshire, UK (2014).

Workshop for a selected group of FBI personnel, “Tracking suspects: How motion capture techniques can be used during interviews”, Psychology department, Lancaster University, UK (2013).

Oral Conference Presentation as part of a symposium on “The role of interpersonal behaviour in detecting deception”, “Nonverbal mimicry increases in second-language interviews”, the European Association of Psychology and Law (EAPL) 2013 conference, Coventry, UK (2013).

Poster Presentation as part of the Symposium organized for the inaugural lecture of Prof. Paul Taylor, “Nonverbal mimicry to reveal deceit”, University of Twente, the Netherlands (2013).

Invited Talk for the High Tech Crime Unit of the Dutch National Police Services, “Bringing Hollywood to the interrogation room”, Driebergen, the Netherlands (2013).

Oral Conference Presentation as part of a symposium, “The role of interpersonal behaviour in modern policing", "Mimicry as a cue to deception in cross-cultural interactions”, American Society of Criminology (ASC) 2012 conference, Chicago, US (2012).

Oral Presentation Summer School, “Discussing the impact of interview styles on mimicry as a cue to deceit”, Lancaster University, UK (2012).

Interactive Poster Presentation, “Using motion-capture equipment for psychological research”, Opening event of Security Lancaster, Lancaster University, UK (2012).

Oral Conference Presentation, “Nonverbal mimicry increases when deceiving - particularly when responding to reverse-order questioning”, the European Association of Psychology and Law (EAPL) 2012 conference, Nicosia, Cyprus (2012).

Poster Presentation, “Nonverbal mimicry as a cue to deceit”, the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) 2012 conference, San Diego, US (2012).

Poster Presentation, “Nonverbal mimicry increases when lying”, Annual Departmental PGR conference, Lancaster University, UK (2011).

Oral Conference Presentation, “Nonverbal mimicry increases when lying”, PhD Deception Conference 2011, Lancaster University, UK (2011).

Oral Presentation Summer School, “Nonverbal mimicry”, University of Twente, the Netherlands (2011).

Poster Presentation, “Nonverbal mimicry as a cue to deceit”, international Investigative Interviewing Research Group (iIIRG) 2011 conference, Dundee, UK (2011).


Best paper award, EAPL-S, 'Nonverbal mimicry increases in second-language interviews', EAPL 2013 conference, Coventry, UK (2013).

Review and Panel work

Reviewer for Legal and Criminological Psychology

Reviewer for Psychology, Public Policy, and Law

Member of panel judging posters at the Oxbridge Women in Computer Science Meeting 2014, Cambridge University, UK (2014)

Contact Details

Dr. Sophie Van Der Zee
University of Cambridge
The Computer Laboratory
15 JJ Thomson Avenue
Cambridge, CB3 0FD
United Kingdom

Office: GE17, William Gates Building, Cambridge University
Phone: +44 1223 763 792
Email: sophie.van-der-zee|AT|