Patrick McClanahan, Ph.D.


Main Focus

My postdoc research harnesses the power of virtual reality and an ecologically valid sample to assess criminal decision-making. Convicted burglars are invited to explore a neighborhood, select a target to burglarize, and commit a burglary in VR and to go about it just as they would in the real world. The VR system tracks all their behavior in real time, such as where they look, how they walk around, which target they select, where they enter houses, and how they go about committing a burglary once inside the target. The results of our studies have provided us with an unprecedented level of detail regarding burglary behavior. Currently, my project looks at how various physical cues (or Easter Eggs as we call them) such as cars, neighborhood watch signs, and security alarms influence burglary decision-making.

Curriculum Vitae

  • 10/2017-02/2021: PhD, Psychology, University of Cambridge
  • 10/2016–07/2017: MPhil, Social and Developmental Psychology, University of Cambridge
  • 08/2011–12/2014: BS, Psychology, with Second Major in Criminal Justice, Roanoke College, Virginia


Virtual Burglary Project

The Virtual Burglary Project is a research program co-headed by Prof. Claire Nee (University of Portsmouth) and involves a collaboration with researchers from Leiden University and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. The Virtual Burglary Project uses a VR approach to better understand the behavior of residential burglars and to contribute to crime prevention. Data collections occur in Germany… more

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