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Department
Psychology
Course
PSYCH 230
Professor
John Rempel
Semester
Fall

Description
Class 1 Psychology and the Legal System -we as human beings are profoundy social creatures (our capacity to survive without others? Newborns can’t survive on their own) -our capacity to live and work together, cooperate, leads us to be the dominant creatures on the earth -we have developed emotions such as empathy, caring, and other ways of interacting that allow us to be able to cooperate, we form communities (social connections which are important to us) -BUT not everybody plays nicely, we also have the capacity to take advantage of other people, and to dominate, hurt, dehumanize others (turn into enemies) -if we are going to work together effectively we have to maximize prosocial cooperation and inimize antisocial competition -if we don’t have rules around this, it becomes chaos and war -there is benefit to being in large groups, society has become larger over time, these large groups create a context for competition, so we had to develop rules (family rules, community rules, national rules) -there always has to be some kind of guidelines -two different systems that interact (two distinct goals) 1. Law: the rules became codified and more systematic, and distributed evenly amongst the population 2. Sanctions: (enforcement) must be able to enforce the laws, consequences for when someone doesn’t follow these Psychology and the Law: looks at the study of human behaviour and how we relate to each other with the law -allows us to understand these two systems in terms of a legal context -how people think, feel and behave in our groups, in response to our laws/rules/moral codes -how do we relate to each other (huge impact on the legal system) -how are we best able to work and live together (most basic value) Interdisciplinary Understanding of the Legal System -many disciplines contribute to understanding the legal system and how it works -philosophy, anthropology, sociology (criminology), history, political science, law -psychology is only one part of many -this interdisciplinary way of thinking is not only for the legal system, it’s common to many concrete topics (one perspective is not sufficient) -sub-disciplines within psychology, many different views of the legal system within psych itself -major divisions within psychology (Goals) (Tasks) Understanding Intervention Gather Info Basic research (very Testing/assesment general and systematic) (very specific to a person) Promote Applied research Treatment (want to Change (forensic psych, conrete have people become questions and can be healthier) applied) Psychological and Legal Perspectives Law Precedent: rely on past cases, what you decide must be consistent, if you’re going to make a new decision you must have very good reasons -decisions are Authoritative and Hierarchical, authority makes the decisions and they become binding, with various levels of court systems all the way up to Supreme Court, which are given precedent, and are binding over lower courts Adversarial: method to arrive at the ‘truth’, trying to convince somebody that their version of the truth is more correct, the most convincing person wins, people are designated adversarial roles Prescriptive: describes what people should do, what laws are for Ideographic: operates on a case by case basis, don’t determine results based on statistics (you’re this age, and people this age usually…), based on what actually happened Certainty: based on the ‘appearance’ of certainty, must be certain to make a binding decision Reactive: deal with issues brought by others, people have to react to cases as they’re brought to them Psychology Innovations and Creativity: new ideas and methods, not interested in precedent Empirical: and data driven, decisions are based on what’s the data telling us Experimental: method to arrive at the ‘truth’ Descriptive: describes what people do and why Nomothetic: uncover general principles and patterns Probabilistic: based on probable evidence, rather than certainty Proactive: greater control over issues studied, a controled environment is used then we observe the effects Academic: quest for knowledge for it’s own sake Why these distinctions? -different needs and goals between the two subjects, both have different jobs -goals in the legal system vs the goals in psychology -legal system is forced by circumstances to deal with real life situations, you are called on to find out what actually happened and to make a judgement about the innocence, to render a fair and accurate judgement -in order to be fair and consistent you have to rely on precedent -the hierarchical system gives it a sense of authority in the legal system -psychology it’s primarily an academic or therapeutic area and is a choice to study certain topics, proactive and controlled, and make probabilistic decisions -want to build on the old and supercede it, not based on consistency Week 2 Common Questions 1. An eyewitness who testifies against a defendant in court and then is discredited is more damaging to the prosecutors case than having no eyewitness at all? FALSE 2.Eyewitnesses who can correctly remember trivial details of a crime are also more likely to correctly identify the guilty person? FALSE 3.Eyewitnesses who are more certain of what they saw also tend to be more accurate? TRUE 4.Attractive defendants are less likely to be found guilty? TRUE 5. Jurors are more sympathetic to defendants who share their religious beliefs? TRUE 6. A judge’s order to ignore inadmissible evidence can actually add to the testiony’s impact? FALSE 7. A more severe potential punishment makes jurors more likely to convict? FALSE 8. A minority that favours acquital stands a better chance of convincing the majority than a minority that favours conviction? TRUE 9. When a jdge disagrees with the jury’s decision it is usually because the jury acquits someone that the judge woul dhave convicted? TRUE Guiding Ethical Principals -Respect for Human Dignity (warn people, make sure there’s no lasting impact) -Respect for Free and Informed Consent (sometimes staged crimes don’t involve consent) -Respect for Vulnerable Persons (vulnerable persons, people who are impaired, chidren) -Respect for Privacy and Confidentiality (your answers won
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