UniPsych Symposium 2018 (Part 1) - Keynote Address by Dr Majeed Khader

This year’s UniPsych Symposium saw a keynote address by Dr Majeed Khader, the Director of the Home Team Behavioural Sciences Centre.  Dr Majeed is also the Chief Psychologist of the Singapore Police Force.  As a seasoned psychologist with decades of experience, Dr Majeed first shared an overview of the psychology scene in Singapore, then highlighted the multiple pathways aspiring psychologists can progress to after a degree.  Next, he delved into his area of speciality  –  forensic psychology.
Forensic psychology is a fascinating sector to work in, but it is more diverse than the glitz and glamour as portrayed by the media in crime shows.  Forensic psychologists need to be competent in the detection of deception. 
How do different criminals lie? 
Are there variations in deception across different cultures?  
Though some criminals may commit the same crimes, they may not possess the same mindset and intentions that led to their unlawful actions.  As a forensic psychologist, Dr Majeed had to interpret the modus operandi of various criminals.  Providing essential support to victims of traumatic crimes is part of the job too.

Dr Majeed is also involved in the assessment and selection of police personnel, as it is crucial to pick the right individuals for appropriate roles.  In the police force, job responsibilities can be highly demanding and vigorous.  Officers need to make swift decisions in high-stress situations.  Forensic psychologists are then tasked to design tests to evaluate the suitability of applicants.  In forensic settings, psychologists can also be part of the hostage negotiation team, as Dr Majeed was during the Little India riot in 2013.

Dr Majeed recounted a particular incident where he had to interview terrorists at the Internal Security Department.  In terrorism psychology, a psychologist is required to understand why individuals are compelled to carry out acts of extremism.  Figuring out how to combat violent extremism in a digital age is an important area of work.

Being a forensic psychologist holds good prospects, and it is meaningful work.  However, the job could be unstructured and stressful at times.  To communicate effectively with people, psychologists should know how to adapt accordingly to the situation.  It is crucial to be skilful in using language that resonates with the specific demographic.  Dr Majeed ends off his address by encouraging us to “unlearn from school” as well.

Do read more about Forensic and Criminal Psychology in Singapore by Dr Majeed!

This post is written by Rachel Lim, a first-year psychology student from the Singapore University of Social Sciences. Rachel also holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and is currently working as a writer.