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Midterm Notes

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Will Huggon

Forensics Psychology Midterm – 2 hours  4 questions x 15 marks each (1. Lec2, 2. Lec3, 3. Lec4, 4. Lec5)  10 MC questions from each lecture (10 x 4 lectures)  Midterm is out of 100 Lecture 2: Psychological Theories Contemporary Psychological theories of crime include:  Moral reasoning  Social information-processing Moral Reasoning Moral Reasoning asks the question how individuals reason and justify their behaviour with regards to their stage of moral development  Kohlberg developed a 6 stage theory which argues that the actions you do are a result of punishment or rewards  Piaget developed a cognitive-developmental model Sociomoral Reasoning  Gibb’s did a revision of Kohlberg’s moral development theory which focused on the first four stages (Pre-conventional and Conventional Morality) and offenders o It is called “Socio-moral Reasoning” Sociomoral Reasoning consists of two levels: immature moral reasoning and mature moral reasoning  The importance is a need for the acquisition of social perspective-taking skills  The first two stages in immature moral reasoning are superficial and ego-centric  The next two stages in mature moral reasoning demonstrate people’s understanding of interpersonal relationships, other people’s needs, and societal needs  Criminals who many not have been parented properly are stuck at this immature phase  There is a relationship between cognitive distortion and moral reasoning and offending  Main offence-supporting distortion is the egocentric bias related to both immature moral reasoning and thinking style of offenders o Secondary cognitive bias come into play: Hostile Attribution Bias  Hostile interpretation of events  Blaming others/external factors  Minimizing consequences o Hostile behaviour is seen as a result of sociomoral developmental delay beyond childhood accompanied by an egocentric bias (inclination to distort changes between the present and past to make ourselves look better; everything is about them) Immature Moral Reasoning Stage 1: Unilateral and Physicalistic  Reasoning refers to powerful authority figures (such as parents) and the physical consequences of behaviour with little or no perspective taking o You must obey those big and powerful (morality at this stage); if you are big and powerful, then whatever you do is right and fair o Criminals see themselves as the authority figure with little or no perspective taking o If the punishment can be avoided, the offense is morally justified; it’s the punishment that makes the act wrong, not the act itself Stage 2: Exchanging and Instrumental  Reasoning incorporates a basic understanding of social interaction; but in terms of cost/benefit o An eye for an eye o For criminals at this stage, the reasoning is what are they going to get for doing something? o If the benefits to the individual outweigh the costs, the offense is morally justified Stage 3: Mutual and Prosocial  Reasoning reflects an understanding of interpersonal relationships and the norms/expectations associated with these  Empathy and social perspective-taking are evident along with conscience  Criminals lack this stage but psychopaths understand this and use it to their advantage  If the offence maintains personal relationships, it is morally justified; underage drinking Stage 4: Mutual and Prosocial  Reasoning reflects an understanding of complex social systems; societal requirements, basic rights and values, and character/integrity (you will stand up for what you believe is right/wrong)  If an offence maintains society or is sanctioned by a social institution then it is justified Social Information-Processing Theory Crick and Dodge developed a 6-stage model: 1. Encoding of social cues (analyze social cues on how to respond) 2. Interpretation and mental representation of the situation 3. Clarification of goals/outcomes 4. Access or construction of response (think of what you will do/say) 5. Choice of response (those more socially skilled will think of more responses and correct ones) 6. Performance of chosen response (those social skilled respond more appropriately) At the first steps, aggressive individuals experience a range of problems encoding and interpreting cues leading to inaccurate representations of the situation  Perceive fewer social cues, notice more aggressive cues, pay more attention to cues at the end of interactions  Aggressive individuals rely more on internal schema for interpretation which tend to be aggressive in nature  We see a hostile attributional bias during the first two steps: an aggravated tendency when they feel threatened or react impulsively; place greater blame on external factors At the third and fourth step, aggressive individuals have dominance/revenge-based goals  Slaby and Guerra: participants were rated as hostile or non-hostile; they wanted to rate how hostile they were in certain situations (if you were in this situation, what would you do?) o Results looked at how hostile the responses were and how much they varied o Non-aggressive individuals came up with more different responses than aggressive individuals o Aggressive individuals defined the problem in a hostile way with hostile goals; not seeking any facts and not anticipating consequences At the fifth step aggressive individuals evaluate responses by different criteria, rating aggressive responses more positively; aggressive individuals think aggression is viewed as being more effective to achieve their goals At the sixth step, the performance of the chosen response depends on social skills and aggressive individuals have poor social skills; and regardless of what they do, if it is successful it will be evaluated positively and reinforced Interpersonal Violence: Cognitive-Behavioural Theory Focuses on the role of cognitive appraisal and internal processes in violence Crick and Dodge found distinctive processing patterns and three cognitive factors:  Hostile Attributional Bias o Very strong relationship with aggressive behaviour among children and adolescents and this relationship holds into adulthood  Empathy o Significant association between poor empathy and violent offending  Emotional Arousal o Angry thoughts are triggered by situational events o Angry thoughts then increase emotional arousal o Increase in physiological and psychological components o This arousal heightens the intensity of angry thoughts Social Factors and Violence A major social factor shown to predict violent offending is family structure and parenting style There is also a clear link between severe abuse in childhood and witnessing family violence and becoming violent  Mediated through the impact on psychological functioning, such as problem solving and coping abilities Neuropsychological Factors and Violence Violence may be associated with damage or malfunction of the frontal and temporal lobes Theories of Offending: Sexual Offending – Child Sexual Abuse Finhelhor devised a four preconditions model: 1. The thinking stage (motivation to sexually abuse) a. Sexual arousal to a child, emotional congruence with a child, and blockage of sexual expression with an adult 2. Giving permission (overcoming internal inhibitions) a. Distorted beliefs about child abuse, disinhibited with drugs and alcohol (sexual abuse occurs when individuals are drunk) 3. Creating the Opportunity a. External factors must be overcome (child does not want to be abused), gaining the trust of the child and their family, getting the child alone 4. Overcoming the Victim’s Resistance a. Force, grooming techniques (behaviour used by the offender that overcomes the resistance of the defender over the course of time (rewards, threats) Hall and Hirschmann described four components necessary for an offence to take place: 1. Sexual arousal to children 2. Attitudes and beliefs that justify child abuse 3. Poor self-regulation 4. Personality problems (that cause them to act a certain way) War and Siegart devised the Pathways Model, which illustrates four separate but interacting psychological mechanisms that are involved in child sexual abuse: 1. Intimacy and social deficits 2. Distorted sexual scripts 3. Cognitive distortions 4. Emotional dis-regulation Offenders with multiple dysfunctional mechanisms form a fifth pathway are hypothesized to be “pure pedophiles” Rape Theories of Offending Malamuth et al. found two interacting paths that lead to sexual aggression:  Hostile masculinity path o Emphasizes role of aggressive intimate relationships and sexual conquest in the concept of masculinity, along with valuing power, risk-taking, dominance, and competitiveness  Sexual promiscuity path o Emphasizes the role of sexual behaviours in maintaining self-esteem and peer status, and the appeal of impersonal sex Integrated Theories of Offending Marshall and Barbaree: biological developmental, sociocultural, and situational variable that lead to psychological vulnerabilities  Negative childhood experiences lead to problems in forming pro-social, emotional, and sexual attachments  Puberty causes hormonal changes – aggression and sex become linked due to these previous problems and the neural substrates of the drives originating from similar regions of the brain  Poor social skills can lead to rejection of pro-social attempts to be sexually intimate which can result in anger and increased likelihood of an aggressive attempt  If there is support for the aggression this will strengthen and increase the likelihood of further aggressive acts  Other factors such as stress, drug and alcohol use, anger or sexual frustration can impact the ability of the person to inhibit anti-social behaviour; which taken together can result in a sexual offense being committed Common factors to sexual offending theories: distorted cognition, deviant sexual arousal, poor emotional and impulse control, and problems in empathy The overarching factor relating to all of them is most likely developmental adversity Lecture 3: Deception Deception is an act which is meant to foster a belief or understanding in another person which the deceiver considers to be false; it’s not necessarily lying but they may have the wrong information but part of deception is the fact that they know they are lying and are trying to deceive you Three different levels:  Falsification: everything being told is a lie  Distortion: you tell mostly the truth but the information is altered to fit the liar’s goal  Concealments: the liar holds back the truth There are four different approaches to catching a liar: emotional, cognitive, attempted control, and self-presentational perspective Emotional Approach (Ekman) Premise: lying causes emotions that differ from those experienced while telling the truth  Fear of being judged, fear of apprehension causes stress and arousal which results in a higher voice bitch, increased blushing, sweating, speech errors, and gaze aversion  But these emotions are associated with nervousness – not necessarily lying Leakage hypothesis: the stronger the emotions experienced by the liars, the more likely that these emotions will leak, leaving visible traces in demeanor  Doesn’t account for other variables, nervousness Cognitive Load Approach (Vrij) Premise: lying is more cognitively demanding than telling the truth  Have to provide consistent theory, details, simplicity  You will be faster in your responses when telling the truth  Cognitively demanding tasks can result in: o Gaze aversion, fewer body movements, long pauses These are all signs of nervousness as well, not necessarily lying There is some evidence that when you are telling the truth you are quicker in your responses but you can’t measure exact response times and their statistical significance Attempted Control Approach Liars may be aware that internal processes could result in cues to deception and minimize these cues  This could lead to overcompensation which can create different cues to deception Self-Presentational Perspective (DePaulo) Self-regulation: regulating one’s own behaviour to create a particular impression on others Truth-tellers and liars both want to appear honest  Truth tellers actually have grounds for their claims because they stay within the boundaries of the truth Liars and truth-tellers are predicted to differ cognitively and behaviorally in two ways: 1. Deceptive statements could be embraced less by the deceiver  Negative feelings, less details, appear less pleasant and more tense 2. Liars provide stories they know depart from the truth, which may result in a deliberate attempt to seem more credible  Attempts to control behaviours may cause their actions to appear less convincing, less involved, and more tense A problem is that there is a correlation with nervousness Objective Cues to Deception Reliable cues to deception are scarce; behaviour that are actually related to deception lack strong predictive value Liars seem to be tenser than truth tellers, pupils are more dilated, voice pitch is higher, their appearance is more tense and nervous, and they are less cooperative Liars talk for a shorter time and include fewer details; their stories are less plausible, less logically structured, and more ambivalent; they are less direct, less relevant, and less personal Liars spontaneously correct themselves Deception detection: with a few exceptions, accuracy levels fall between 46-60% In meta-analysis, average accuracy is 54% Average accuracy for trained lie experts (police, judges, customs) falls between 45-60% Misconceptions There is a lack of overlap between objective (actual) cues, and subjective (what we think is associated with deception) cues  Nervousness isn’t associated with deception unless it is the first time they’ve lied Gaze aversion, hesitations, slower speech rates, longer and more frequent pauses, increase in smiling and movements are highly correlated with nervousness; liars aren’t necessarily more nervous than truth tellers Reid Manual claims an accuracy rate of 80+% but there are no studies of empirical support Kassin and Fong: randomly assigned to control or training in catching deception with the Reid Manual  The group who received training was more confident and had more reasons for their judgments  Controls (without training) had an accuracy level of 56%  Trainees had an accuracy level of 46% (worse than chance) o Unobservant to other cues, etc.
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