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Lecture 1

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PSYC 268
Deborah Connolly

Psyc 268 Lecture 1 Introduction 1 LAW: “A body of rules for the guidance of human conduct which are imposed upon and enforced among the members of a given state” Must be: • Extensive to accommodate the wide range of human behaviour and the range of circumstances under which conflicts arise • Dynamic to cope with changing needs of society PSYCHOLOGY: “The scientific study of behaviour and mental processes” Scientific Method: • Form a hypothesis • Establish procedures (experimentation or observation?) • Collect, analyze, and interpret data • Hypothesis is assessed through peer review Three Key Philosophies NATURAL LAW: the source of law is universal and beyond human creation but can be discovered through careful reasoning Human Law: • Law written by humans to control particular behaviours • Considered as a way to translate natural law into requirements of particular behaviours • Evolves over time as our behaviour evolves BUT it must always correspond to the tenants of natural law Implications of Natural Law • Source of law is unchanging and universal = the law itself is unchanging and universal • As legal professionals employ reasoning strategies they will discover the true law • Since the law exists in nature or divinity it is inherently good and moral FORMALISTIC VIEW/POSITIVISM: law is what is written down and it must be applied exactly that way. Lawyers and judges have rules and regulations available to them to resolve disputes. As long as they apply the right rules to the right cases, the “correct” judgment would reveal itself. Implications of the Formalistic View/Positivism: • Little need to employ extra-legal experts • Is positivism an accurate description of how law should be applied? LEGAL REALISM: over the next few decades legal realism began to emerge as a more reasonable application of law. 3 Important Tenants: 1. Law is the behaviour of judges, whose decisions can be subject to personal experience and biases. Psyc 268 Lecture 1 Introduction 2 2. Law should promote social welfare. 3. To accomplish social welfare, the legal system profits from a systematic examination of social reality. Implications of Legal Realism: • Need representative persons in the judicial roles • Judges must be open to input from a variety of sources, including experts, to o Better understand the social welfare they are charged with promoting o Try to moderate the effect of personal biases • But, the predictability of law may be compromised Stare decisis: Courts are bound by previous decisions; “like cases must be decided alike” Development of Psychology and Law RESEARCH PSYCHOLOGISTS Cattell (1895) • Asked people everyday life experiences (e.g., what direction do apple seeds grow?) • Responses = often incorrect Binet (1900) • Conducted studies demonstrating the heightened suggestibility of children Sigmund Freud (1906) • Proposed to legal community that psychologists could assist courts with detection of deception Whipple (1908) • Published articles in Psychological Bulletin related to memory and witness accounts Stern (1910) • “Reality experiments” in which participants watched a stage event (e.g., two confederates arguing after which one pulled a gun) • Demonstrated that participants can be highly wrong in their reports of a witnessed event ** Hugo Munsterberg (1908) • Published a book entitled “On the Witness Stand” in which he urged the legal community to consider the use of psychological principles in eyewitness testimony and identification. • Considered the father of forensic psychology PSYCHOLOGISTS IN COURT Von Schrenck-Notzing (1896) • 1 psychologist to appear in court as an expert Psyc 268 Lecture 1 Introduction 3 • Provided evidence in a serial sexual murder case in which there was extensive pretrial publicity • Showed that pretrial publicity can have a powerful effect on memory reports such that “facts” learned through publicity may be reported as having occurred during the crime – he called it “retroactive memory falsification” Varendonk (1911) • During a Belgian murder trial in which children gave different evidence at trial than before trial, he provided empirical evidence showing the suggestibility and inaccuracy of children. POST-WAR: Growth in legal realism due in part to landmark cases, improved research, and a changing attitude among legal professionals Three eminent cases in the U.S. introduced social science evidence to courts: 1. Muller v. Oregon (1908) – social science evidence was submitted to uphold an Oregon law that restricted the workday for women to 10 hours. 2. Brown v. Board of Education (1954) – the U.S. Supreme Court cited
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