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PSYC 3020 (61)
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Department
Psychology
Course
PSYC 3020
Professor
Dan Yarmey
Semester
Winter

Description
Psychology of Law – Unit 1 Chapter 1 Intro to Forensic Psychology What is Forensic Psychology? - Forensic Psychology: a field of psychology that deals with all aspects of human behavior as it relates to the law or legal system. - Debate on whether the definition of forensic psychology should be narrow or broad. o Narrow definition would focus on certain aspects of the field while ignoring other, potentially important aspects. o I.e. might focus on the clinical aspects of the field while ignoring the experimental research that many psychologists conduct.  Therefore the only individuals who should call themselves forensic psychologists are those individuals engaged in clinical practice within the legal system. o Broad definitions are less restrictive. o I.e. common cited definition: the research endeavor that examines aspects of human behavior directly related to the legal process… and the professional practice of psychology within, or in consultation with, a legal system that embraces both civil and criminal law.  Does not restrict it to applied issues, but also focuses on the research. The Roles of a Forensic Psychologist - What is consistent across the various definitions of forensic psychology that currently exist is that individuals who call themselves forensic psychologists are always interested in issues that arise at the intersection b/w psychology and the law. The Forensic Psychologist as Clinician - Clinical Forensic Psychologists: Psychologists who are broadly concerned with the assessment and treatment of mental health issues as they pertain to the law or legal system. - This can include both research and practice in a wide variety of settings, such as schools, prisons, and hospitals. o I.e. CFPs are often concerned with the assessment and treatment of persons with mental disorders within the context of law. On the research side, CFPs might involve the validation of an assessment tool that has been developed to predict the risk of an offender being violent. On the practical side, the CFPs a frequent task might involve the assessment of an offender to assist the parole board in making an accurate determination of whether that offender is likely to pose a risk to the community if released. - Clinical Forensic Psychologists are also interested in issues such as: o Divorce and child custody mediation o Determinations of criminal responsibility and fitness to stand trial o Providing expert testimony on questions of a psychological nature o Personnel selection (for law enforcement agencies) o Conducting critical incident stress debriefings with police officers. o Designing and conducting treatment programs for offenders. - In Canada a CFP must be a licensed clinical psychologist who has specialized in the forensic area. o Some provinces require a masters degree and some require a PHD in psychology. o Forensic specialization involves usually an intense period of supervised practice. o Last step is a comprehensive exam w/ an oral component. - Common question from undergraduates: What is the difference b/w forensic psychology and forensic psychiatry? o Forensic Psychiatry: A field of medicine that deals with all aspects of human behavior as it relates to the law or legal system. o Both fields are trained to assess and treat individuals experiencing mental health problems who come into contact with the law. o Both engage in similar types of research. o Difference is that psychiatrists are medical doctors who can prescribe medication; therefore they undergo a different type of training. o Psychologists tend to view mental illness as more a result of an individual’s physiology, personality, and environment. Forensic Psychologist as Researcher - Experimental Forensic Psychologists: are psychologists who are broadly concerned with the study of human behaviour as it relates to the law or legal system. - A list of research issues that issue these individuals are as follows: o Examining the effectiveness of risk-assessment strategies. o Determining what factors influence jury decision-making. o Developing and testing better ways to conduct eye witness lineups. o Evaluating offender and victim treatment programs. o Studying the impact of questioning style on eyewitness memory recall. o Examining the effect of stress management interventions on police officers. - They undergo PHD level graduate training in one of many different types of experimental graduate programs. These programs also have many other fields of psychology of study. Forensic Psychologist as Legal Scholar - Two initiatives that are important to mention from this field: o SFU’s psychology and Law program partnered with U of BC to allow students to obtain both their PHD in psych as will as their L.L.B. in law. This program produces forensic psychologists that are much more aware about the legal processes and systems. o Second initiative was the formation of the Mental Health, Law, and Policy Institute at SFU. The purpose of this program is to promote interdisciplinary collaboration in research and training in areas related to mental health law and policy. o Forensic psychologists in their role as legal scholars “would most likely engage in scholarly analyses of mental health law and psychologically oriented legal movements. Whereas they’re applied work would most likely center around policy analysis and legislative consultation.” The Relationship Between Psychology and Law - Forensic psychology is challenging b/c it can be approached by many different angles. - There are three primary ways in which psychology and law can relate to each other: 1. Psychology and the Law: - In this relationship psychology is viewed as a separate discipline (to the law), examining and analyzing various components of the law (and the legal system) from a psychological point of view perspective. - Frequent research that falls under this category examines assumptions made by the law or our legal system. (i.e. are eye witnesses accurate?) These kinds of questions are answered so they can be communicated to the legal community. 2. Psychology in the Law - Involves the use of psychological knowledge in the legal system. - Can take many different forms. - I.e. a psychologist in court providing expert testimony concerning some issue of relevance to a particular case. - I.e. a police officer using their psych knowledge to extract information in an interrogation process. 3. Psychology of the Law - Involves the use of psychology to study the law itself. - It addresses questions such as “what role should the police play in domestic disputes?” “Does the law reduce the amount of crime in our society?” The History of Forensic Psychology - Short history, roughly dating back to the late 19 century. - Not referred to directly as forensic psychology. Early Research: Eyewitness Testimony and Suggestibility - Some of the first experiments were done by James McKeen Cattell in New York (major powerhouse of psychology in North America). - Asked people to recall things that happened in their everyday life, and found their answers were very inaccurate. - At the same time many began studying eyewitness testimonies and suggestibility. o I.e. Alfred Binet (French) conducted studies in which he showed that the testimony provided by children was highly susceptible to suggestive questioning techniques. - A German psychologist William Stern also began conducting studies examining the suggestibility of witnesses (known as the “reality experiments” today). o Participants are exposed to staged events and are them asked to recall information about the event. o Also one of the first researchers to demonstrate that a person’s level of emotional arousal can have an impact on the accuracy of that person’s testimony. Early Court Cases in Europe - Around the same time, psychologists in Europe also started to appear as expert witnesses in court. o Most of the testimonies they were providing dealt with the accuracy of eyewitness’s testimonies. o 1896, Albert Von Schrenck-Notzing was the first expert witness to provide testimony in court on the effect of pretrial publicity on memory.  Showed how the press coverage caused Retro Active Memory Falsification, which is process where witnesses confuse actual memories of events with the events described by the media.  Read more on this case  pg.11 Advocates of Forensic Psychology in North America - One of the most important landmarks was the publication in 1908 of Hugo Munsterberg’s “On the Witness Stand”. o Munsterberg is referred to as the as the father of forensic psychology. o The way he presented his findings and issues led to heavy criticism from the legal profession. o John Henry Wigmore was his biggest criticizer suing him and claiming him that he couldn’t back up all his offerings. o Despite his criticizing Munsterberg was instrumental in pushing North American Psychologists into the legal arena. Forensic Psychology in Other Areas of the Criminal Justice System - After the publication of Munsterberg’s book, theories of crime were being proposed at a rapid rate, and these theories were informing research conducted by North American psychologists. - Also, forensic psychologists were instrumental in establishing the first clinic for juvenile delinquents in 1909, began using psychological testing for law enforcement selection purposes in 1917, and the first forensic assessment laboratory set up in a U.S police agency. - After these events, psychologists in the United States began to become more heavily involved in the judicial system, starting w/ the State v driver in 1921. Biological Theories of Crime - Constitutional Theory: proposed that crime is largely a product of an individual’s body build or soma type, which is linked to a person’s temperament. - Endomorphs (obese) = jolly - Ectomorphs (thin) = introverted - Mesomorphs (muscular) = bold  more likely to be involved in crime. - Chromosomal Theory: proposed that chromosomal irregularity is linked to criminal behavior. - Men with two Y-chromosomes are more masculine and therefore more aggressive.  More likely to be involved in criminal activity. - Dyscontrol Theory: proposed that lesions of the temporal lobe and limbic system result in electrical disorganization within the brain, which can lead to a dyscontrol syndrome. - Symptoms include sudden outbursts of physical violence etc. Sociological Theories of Crime - Strain Theory: proposed that crime is largely a product of the strain felt by certain individuals in society (typically from the lower class) who have restricted access to legitimate means, such as education. - Some of these individuals will not be happy with these lesser goals and will turn to crime. - Differential Association Theory: proposed that criminal behavior is learned through social interactions in which people are exposed to values that can be either favorable or unfavorable to violations of the law. - Labelling Theory: proposed that deviance is not inherent to an act but a label attached to an act by society. Thus a criminal results primarily from a process of society labeling a person as a criminal. - This labeling process helps promote the individual’s deviant behavior through a self-fulfilling prophecy. Psychological Theories o
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