Psychology and the law- the use of psychology to examine the operation of the legal system. In this
view, psychology is seen as a separate discipline from law, and it is used to examine the legal system.
Psychologists in this ideology would ask questions such as, “ are eye witnesses accurate?”. Do certain
interrogation techniques cause people to falsely confess? they answer questions like these and give the
results to the legal community.
Psychology in the law- this idea involves the use of psychological knowledge in the legal system.
Activities in this ideology include psychologist providing expert testimony in court towards a certain
issue in a case. Also a police officer might use effective interrogation techniques that he/she learned
about from psychological studies.
Psychology of the law- the use of psychology to study the law itself. Questions such as what role should
police play in domestic disputes. Does the law reduce the amount of crime.
What is the definition of Forensic Psychology? Broad vs. Narrow.
A field of psychology that deals with aspects of human behavior as they relate to law or the legal system.
A Narrow definition would focus on certain aspects of the field, while ignoring other potentially
important aspects. For example, one definition might focus on the clinical aspects while ignoring the
experimental aspects, thus only those involved in clinical practice can call themselves forensic
Broad definitions of forensic psychology include applied issues and research. It does not segregate the
experimental psychologists in this field. This definition allows other forms of psychology to be included
in the definition such as cognitive, behavioral etc.
History- Important names
- Conducted some of the first North American experiments around eye witness testimony.
- He asked people to recall things that they had seen in their everyday lives, many of the answers
- The level of confidence people had in their recall had no relation to the accuracy of the answer;
high confidence resulted in low accuracy sometimes.
- Was to first to demonstrate that a person emotional arousal can have an impact on their
recall accuracy. More emotional response leads to more inaccurate answers.
- He staged events then asked bystanders to recall the events this led to inaccurate answers. Von Schrenck-Notzing:
- The first expert witness to provide testimony in court about the media’s impact on pretrial
memory. The media’s coverage of an event, effected the memory of the witness.
- Retroactive memory falsification- witnesses confuse actually memory of the events with the
events describe by the media.
- Father of forensic psychology
- Wrote on the witness stand
- Leading questions result in less accurate recall by children.
- And free recall results in the best, most accurate recall.
- He studied the impact of intoxication on reaction times, and concluded that it did.
- First professor of legal psychology, hired by a law school.
- He is responsible for the first ever polygraph, or lie detector.
- US. vs. Frye- marston was not allowed to provide his testimony.
• People vs. Hawthorne- Standard for determining expert status is not a medical degree but
extent of knowledge. A psychologist coming in, wanting to provide testimony about mental
health issues, in this case the defendant suffered from a mental illness that somehow impacted
the degree of responsibility they have for committing the crime. Initially, the testimony would
not be accepted. The courts argued that it was outside the domain of psychology to speak to
mental health issues, and that it fell in the domain of medicine. That psychiatrists should be
talking about these things. On appeal, the higher courts reversed those rulings. The extent of
one’s knowledge was not their degree but rather their knowledge in the subject, and the court
ruled that these testimonies were allowed in court.
• Brown vs. Board of education- issues of segregation. The bad effects of segregation.
• Jenkins vs. US- Jenkins argued that he was not criminally responsible by reason of insanity,
three clinical psychologists were able to back this up, was at first rejected, then after an appeal
the testimony was allowed.
- Bowlby- psychodynamic theories. Emphasis on internal conflicts.
- Maternal influence or more generally childhood experiences. Bowlby- proposed the theory of maternal deprivation, at an early age.
- One of the primary causes of delinquency is the maternal deprivation from an early age of
- Debate in how early?
- In the development, there are critical windows, in which if you are deprived of certain things,
you will never develop those areas.
Bandura- Learning Theories
- Emphasis on anti-social peer groups.
- Watching media, exposure to violent images.
- The less supervision while being exposed to graphic images.
Eysenk- Personality theories
- Extraversion vs introversion
- Highly narcotic
- Criminals and normal people have different personalities.
- Highly extraverted, highly psychotic.
- Used questionnaires to determine the level of these traits.
Frye- he wanted to submit the results of a plygraph tests that he passed, he was accused of murder.
From this case, came the General acceptance test- in which the court will allow expert testimony is it
accepted in its own scientific community.
Daubert- led to the creation of the daubert criteria- 1. Peer reviewed research 2. Research is testable 3.
Research has a recognized rate of error 4. Research adheres to established standards. This is the criteria
for accepting expert testimony in court.
Mohan- the Mohan Criteria- 1. The evidence must be relevant. 2. Must be nessesary for assisting the
trier of fact/ the judge. 3. The evidence cannot violate any other rules of exclusion. 4. The testimony
must be provided by a qualified expert.
Informed Consent- knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently. Chapter 2
Job Analysis- identifying the knowledge, skills, and abilities that make a good police officer.
- Problems encountered with this include, the KSA’s of a good police officer may change over
time, so we don’t know what to look for when creating the job analysis.
- Another issue is that some people might disagree about which KSA’s are more important. Young
constables see humor as an important trait, while veteran officers do not. Cognitive skills were
more important, honesty, reliability, sensitivity to others.
Construction and validation- constructing a measurement for these KSA’s, and a validating them.
- Problems with this include how we measure the performance of officers? How this is done can
be an issue, because this will impact the validity of the measures.
- While measures do exist, there is nothing to say that one of these measures is better then the
other, such as the number of complaints an officer had against them, and ratings by fellow
Selection Interview- using an interview to determine to what extent the applicant meets the necessary
KSA’s, can include a measure of confidence, communication, self-control, relationship building.
- The predictive validity of this measure produces mixed results.
- A problem could be inter-rater reliability.
- The more structured the interview, the more impact it will have an predicting the future
performance of an officer.
Psychological tests: Cognitive ability tests, personality tests.
Cognitive ability tests- a procedure used to measure, memory, mathematical ability, verbal, and
- These tests are better at predicting performance during police academy training rather than
actual future police work.
Personality tests- MMPI- identifying pathological problems.
- While they did not produce accurate predictions of future police performance, they did find that
they were able to predict the bad police officers more accurately.
- Inwald personality inventory- measures police applicants on their personal attributes and
- Appears to be more predictive of police performance than MMPI. Slightly better performance. Assesment centres: Situational tests- a simulation of a real world policing task.
- These tests have a moderate level of predictive validity.
Stress- pressure or tension. The automatic state that results when the body must make changes in
order to adapt to a demand.
Types of stress: Organizational stress, Occupational Stress, Criminal justice stressors, Public Stressors.
Organizational Stress: stressors relating to organizational issues. Such as, lack of career development
(promotion), excessive paperwork.
Occupational Stressors (the most stressful): stressors relating to the job itself. Such as, irregular work
schedule. Human suffering, shooting, beatings etc.
Criminal justice stressors: relating to the criminal justice system. Such as ineffectiveness of the criminal
system. Lawyers, defending criminals. Unfavorable court decisions.
Public Stressors- relating to the public. Such as, inaccurate press accounts, public harassment.
Selye’s Three Stage Model (The GAS Model)
- Stage 1: Alarm
- Intense arousal, bodies defences are mobilized, fight or flight (muscle tension, adrenaline,
increased respiration and blood flow)
- Stage 2: Resistance (Coping)
- Body actively resists stressors and attempts to adapt
- Stage 3: Exhaustion
- Physical exhaustion and illness through inability to cope with demands (breakdown can manifest
itself in the form of stroke, heart attack, ulcers, etc.)
Distress: refers to a condition characterized by emotional upset and/or physical strain (e.g., “I’m
Eustress refers to pleasurable stress – even though physical and mental stress is placed on the body it
has a positive effect (e.g., “I’m in the zone”)
Stress and work performance: low stress results in low work performance, moderate stress results in
high work performance, high stress results in low work performance.
Psychological issues of stress- depression, alcohol abuse, burnout.
Physical issues of stress- weight gain, stomach ulcers, death. Job-related issues- absence from work, low morale, turnover.
Chapter 3- Police interrogation/ deception
Purpose of an Interrogation:
1. Obtain a confession
2. Obtain information about the crime
The Reid Model of Interrogation
1. Gather evidence; gather info to use in the interrogation.
2. Conduct interview, interview to explore the possibility of his involvement in the crime. ( try to detect
deception, whether or not the person is lying to you)
3. Conduct accusatorial interrogation, if the person is lying about their guilt and the interrogator is sure
of their guilt, they initiate stage 3. Once stage 3 begins, it is assumed that the person is already guilty.
Issues with the reid model-
Permissible vs not permissible.
R v. Oickle- a male individual suspected of arson was brought in for interrogation, the ruling showed
police what was permissible in an interrogation. You can exaggerate evidence, you can make implicit
threats, low level lying and threats are allowed.
R v. Hoilett- showed police what isn’t permissible in an interrogation. You cannot leave someone naked
in their cell. You cannot wake people up in the early morning and begin questioning them. You can’t get
a confession while the person is drunk or on drugs.
Minimization effects- sympathize with the accused. Give them excuses for committing the crime. Make
them feel like it was ok to commit the crime that they did.
Maximization effects- scare tactics used by the police in order to intimidate and scare suspects.
Problems with interrogation: Deception (detecting when someone is lying),
- There is little research that shows that anyone can detect lies with any degree of accuracy.
- Even specialized training does not increase lie detection in new subjects, that the detector is not
- People have trouble understanding their rights, especially their right to remain silent. Interrogator bias- when police enter an investigation setting with the belief that the accused is guilty.
- They begin to seek out only information that supports their beliefs, and screen out information
that is against their beliefs.
- Interrogators with guilty beliefs asked more questions relating to the predetermined guilt of the
- They also judged more people as guilty even though they may have been innocent.
Voluntary false confession- Charles Lindburgh, false confessions that occur without any interrogators or
interrogations. People just confess willingly. Charles lindburgh- 200 hundred people confessed to the
kidnapping and murder of his son. People confess to crimes they didn’t commit in order to protect
Coerced-internalized confessions- the suspect actually believes they committed the crime, even
though they did not in reality. Highly suggestive interrogation techniques. Paul Ingram case –he
confessed to sexual crimes against his two adult daughters after insisting he was innocent. This was a
case of recovered memories, his daughters were abused at a young age and were repressed and they
remembered them later on in life.
Coerced – compliant false confessions- the Guilford four case. People admitted to bombing places in
England that they actually didn’t bomb. They did this because the police threatened them and their
families physically, but they confessed for instrumental purposes.
Methods for detecting lies- Polygraph, verbal and non-verbal cues.
Polygraph- measures heart rate, blood pressure, sweating.
CQT- Usually, guilty people will feel more anxiety when asked the relevant questions. But innocent
people will show more anxiety when asked the control question. The criticism is that the validity in
assuming that anxiety is provoked in guilty people when asked the relevant question.