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Psychology of Law (PSYC 3020) Textbook Chapter Summaries

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University of Guelph
PSYC 3020
Dan Yarmey

Psychology of Law Chapter Summaries Chapter 1 An Introduction to Forensic Psychology Forensic psychology a field of psychology that deals with all aspects of human behaviour as it relates to the law or legal system What is Forensic PsychologyThere is no generally accepted definition for forensic psychology and no agreement on what the field should be called o It is sometimes referred to as legal psychology or criminological psychologyA board definition of forensic psychology was proposed by Bartol and Bartol o A research endeavor that examines aspects of human behaviour directly related to the legal process and the professional practice of psychology without or in consultation with a legal system that embraces both civil and criminal law The Roles of a Forensic PsychologistForensic psychologists are always interested in issues that arise at the intersection between psychology and the lawForensic psychologists can take on the role of clinician andor researcher andor legal scholar The Forensic Psychologist as ClinicianClinical forensic psychologists psychologists who are broadly concerned with the assessment and treatment of mental health issues as they pertain to the law or the legal systemThis can include both research and practice in a wide variety of settings such as schools prisons and hospitalsIssues that they are interested in may include o Divorce and child custody mediation o Determinations of criminal responsibility insanity and fitness to stand trial o Providing expert testimony on questions of a psychological nature o Personnel selection ex for law enforcement o Conducting critical incident stress debriefings with police officers o Designing and conducting treatment programs for offendersFor this position some form of graduate level training is always requiredThe forensic specialization typically takes the form of an intense period of supervised practice before andor after the completion of the required degree as Forensic psychiatry a field of medicine that deals with all aspects of human behaviour it relates to the law or legal system o The difference is that psychiatrists are medical doctors who prescribe medicationThe Forensic Psychologist as ResearcherExperimental forensic psychologists psychologists who are broadly concerned with the study of human behaviour as it relates to the law or legal system o They are mainly concerned with the mental health issues and any research issueThe lists of research issues include o Examining the effectiveness of riskassessment strategies o Determining what factors influence jury decision making o Developing and testing better ways to conduct eyewitness 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 The Forensic Psychologist as Legal ScholarThe forensic psychologist as legal scholar is less common and they would most likely engage in scholarly analyses of mental health law and psychologically orientated legal movements whereas their applied work would most likely center around policy analysis and legislative consultation The Relationship between Psychology and LawForensic psychology is challenging because it can be approached from many different anglesCraig Haney suggests that there are 3 primary ways to which psychology and the law can relate to each other o Psychology and the law The use of psychology to examine the operations of the legal systemClinical and experimental forensic psychologists domain o Psychology in the law The use of psychology in the legal system as that system operatesClinical and experimental forensic psychologists domain o Psychology of the law The use of psychology to examine the law itselfLegal scholar domain Psychology AND the LawPsychology viewed as a separate discipline to the law examining and analyzing various components of the law and the legal system from a psychological perspectiveIt examines assumptions made by the law or legal system and the answers are communicated to the legal community Psychology IN the LawThis involves the use of psychological knowledge in the legal systemThis can take many forms such as a psychologist in the court providing expert testimony concerning some issue of relevance to a case Psychology OF the LawPsychology of the law involves the use of psychology to study the law itself and it addresses questions such as What role should the police play in domestic disputesThe challenge in this case is that to address the sorts of questions posed a set of skills from multiple disciplines criminology sociology law is often important and crucialThis is usually the role of the legal scholar The History of Forensic Psychology th Forensic psychology has a relatively short history dating back roughly to the late 19 century Early Research Eyewitness Testimony and Suggestibility th In the late 19 century research in the area of forensic psychology was taking place both in North America and EuropeSome of the first experiments were those of James McKeen Cattell o He conducted some of the first North American experiments known as the psychology of eye witness testimony o He would ask people to recall things they had witnessed in their everyday lives o He found that their answers would often be inaccurateOther psychologists began studying eyewitness testimony and suggestibilityAlbert Binet who showed that the testimony by children was highly susceptible to suggestive questioning techniques o He demonstrated that asking children to report everything they saw resulted in the most accurate answers that that highly misleading questions resulted in the least accurate answersWilliam Stern also began studying witness suggestibility o He created the reality experiment that is now commonly used by eyewitness researchers to study eyewitness recall and recognition o The participants are exposed to staged events and are then asked to recall information about the event o He was the first researcher to demonstrate that a persons level of emotional arousal can have an impact on the accuracy of their testimony Early Court Cases in EuropePsychologists in Europe also started to appear as expert witnesses in court which dealt with issues surrounding the accuracy of eyewitness testimonyAlbert von SchrenckNotzing in 1896 testified that extensive pretrial press coverage could influence the testimony by causing what he called retroactive memory falsification whereby witnesses confuse active memories of events with the events described by the mediaJulian Varendonck demonstrated that many children were easily led by suggestive questioning Advocates of Forensic Psychology in North AmericaThe most important landmarks was the publication in 1908 of Hugo Munsterbergs On the Witness Stand o He was considered to the father of forensic psychology o In his book he argued that psychology had much to offer the legal system o He discussed how psychology could assist issues involving eyewitness testimony crime detecting false confessions suggestibility hypnotism and crime preventionJohn Henry Wigmore a law professor is most commonly known for his ruthless critique of Musterburgs book
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