LECTURE ONE: SEPTEMBER 6TH, 2012
TOPIC: INTRODUCTION TO PSYCHOLOGYAND LAW CHAPTER ONE
➔ The law touches different aspects of your life in terms of your interactions at work and school.
➔ Rules and norms surround these interactions.
➔ You notice the law when punishment takes place.
➔ Look in the newspapers and you can see the law at work.
➔ First newspaper shown on PPT → good publicity bad strategy.
➔ Maclean → Harper wants to be touch while others feel his ideas are not fair.
➔ Courts cannot change the laws they can only dictate whether or not they are constitutional.
➔ Law—body of rules of conduct prescribed by authority that has binding force.
➔ Psychology—looks at the scientific study of behaviour and mental processes to understand, to
predict, to control (how individuals think, interact and influence each other).
➔ Focus on behaviour forms linkage between the two.
➔ What is forensic psychology? → anything within the intersection of the law and psychology.
➔ “Forensic psychology is reflected in any application of psychological knowledge or methods to
a task faced by the legal system.”
➔ Encompasses two broad classes 1) Clinical → aspects of psychology and law (traditionally
referred to it as forensic psychology(). Example: violence risk assessment, competency, insanity
(now said to be criminally responsible), fitness to stand trial.
➔ 2) Experimental → aspects of psychology and law, draws on developmental, social, cognitive,
community psychology, and neuropsychology. Example: jury decision making, eyewitness
testimony, confessions, expert testimony etc.
➔ Ways in which the two interact (Haney, 1980) → (1) Psychology and the law → use of psych to
study the operation of the legal system. Psych is seen as separate from the law in this instance.
Looking at the assumptions the law makes and use the methods of psych and law and apply it.
The law assumes we start off as blank slates. (2) Psychology in the law → use of psych within
the legal system as it currently operates. Example: is this person competent to stand trial?
Mental illness? (3) Psychology of the law → use of psych to study the law itself → why do
people obey or disobey the law? Looks at how the law operates, principles of sentencing, the
legal system we use, what principle should we be following.
PSYCHOLOGIST'S ROLE IN LEGALARENA
➔ 1) A'Pure Scientist' → knowledge generated by basic research can promote better
understanding of law and its practices example: research on attitudes and behaviour, memory,
conformity. What factors influence conformity?
➔ 2) An 'Expert Witness' → applying finding of the field to 'real world' legal questions example:
can act as an expert witness in court or legislative hearings: assessments of dangerousness,
psychology of victims, eyewitness accuracy. What factors influence eyewitness testimony?
Applying the field to real world questions. What research touches upon this topic? What do we
know about them? Their retractions? (In terms of children for instance).
➔ 3) 'Policy Evaluator' → laws are constantly changing, new ones are being created or re-
interpreted. Legal modifications cry out for evaluation! Alot of work in terms of the accuracy
of an eyewitness. Make changes to police procedures. Researcher may provide evaluation
research. Example: legal modification → changing the drinking age. ➔ Clash of cultures between Law and Psychology: they differ in how they ask questions, they way
they answer etc
➔ 1) Law is prescriptive (tells you how we should behave) Psychology is descriptive (talk and
study on how to do something). 2) The Law is more hierarchical (lower court versus higher
court in terms of established rules) while psychology is more empirical (do research, person at
Harvard will not necessarily be the only one to conduct studies). 3) Law is adversarial (two
sides, present their best case and one side wins) while psychology is experimental (do
experiments and studies, the valid studies rule). 4) Law is idiographic (looking at a particular
case such as a child sexual abuse case, look at allegations and confessions) while psychology is
nomethetic (do research to say whether children do retract an allegation). 5) Law is based on the
certainty of decisions (guilty or not guilty) psychology is probabilistic (the chances, what
research suggests). 6) Law is reactive (always reactions to whether someone is accused, let free,
policies put in place) and psychology is proactive (interested in things like drinking age). 7)
Law is pragmatic (policies they need to look at) and psych is academic (studies).
➔ Their differences in orientations are what form an uneasy relationship → tension.
FIELD OF PSYCHOLOGYAND LAW- EARLY ORIGINS
➔ Alfred Binet (1900) La Suggestibilite →