Professor Santtila is the Director of the NYU-ECNU Institute for Social Development at NYU Shanghai and a Professor of Psychology at NYU Shanghai. He is also a Global Network Professor at NYU. Previously, he was Professor of Applied Psychology and Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Psychology and Theology at the Åbo Akademi University in Finland.
His research is focused on legal psychology and on human sexuality. His current legal psychological research aims at improving the quality of investigative interviews using simulated interviews with avatars. His research into human sexuality aims to understand and develop treatments for sexual dysfunctions with a particular focus on understanding how sexual arousal interplays with the feeling of disgust.
Professor Santtila has provided investigative advice to the police, acted as an expert witness in numerous legal cases and consulted child sexual abuse investigations. He is a licensed psychologist and specialist in legal psychology (Finland).