Mrs Emma Henderson

Research project: A sense of truth: Illuminating illusory truth effects


21st Century life in the developed world entails an inexorable bombardment of information. From the trivial to the lifesaving, this information shapes thinking and behaviour. But at our fingertips there are untruths as well as truths. How do we decide what is true and what is not? The sheer volume of information we consume encourages frequent, rapid veracity judgements rather than fully deliberative processing. In the absence of objective knowledge about an unfamiliar topic, the perceived truth of a statement can be influenced by superficial characteristics rather than the probative, informational content of the statement. That is, signals that provide no intrinsic information about truth are used to inform truth judgements.

Two such non-probative cues are repetition and concrete language. I investigate how people might use these non-probative cues to make truth judgements in the absence of information or knowledge. My thesis investigates the robustness of these truth effects with a view to understanding how they can be applied to support facts with better communication and arguments.


I am an experimental psychologist interested in the heuristics we use to make every day judgements and decisions. In my substantive research, I investigate how people use non-probative cues to make truth judgements in the absence of information or knowledge. I'm also interested in psychological methods, meta-science and philosophy of science. I am passionate about improving the reliability of scientific research through using and promoting open science practices including pre-registration and open data. I am an Ambassador for the Center for Open Science, a community committee member for Open Thesis.

Prior to beginning my current academic career, I spent 13 years in business, product development and design within the fashion industry.

Areas of research interest

  • Truth judgements
  • Belief perseverance
  • Adaptive cognitive and heuristics
  • Experimental methods and philosophy of science
  • Replications
  • Open research
  • Meta-science


  • MPhil, Kingston University
  • MSc in Psychology, Kingston University
  • BA in Classical Civilisation, Leeds University


Conference papers

Riege, A., Henderson, E. L., Gourdon - Kanhukamwe, A. and Vallee-Tourangeau, G. (2018). Impossible participants or impossible instructions? An eye-tracking investigation of an ego depletion paradigm. In: 9th Annual Faculty of Business Research Conference: Contemporary Issues in Business; 04 Jun 2018, Kingston upon Thames, U.K. (Unpublished)

Henderson, E. L., Should I Join the Open Science Revolution? (2018). Presentation at Kingston University Postgraduate Conference

Henderson, E., Vallée-Tourangeau, G., & Vallée-Tourangeau, F. (2017). Planning in action: Interactivity improves planning performance. In G. Gunzelmann, A. Howes, T. Tenbrink, & E. Davelaar (Eds.), Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 2181-2186). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.