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Textbook Notes.docx

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Department
Psychology
Course Code
Psychology 2990A/B
Professor
Doug Hazlewood

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Psychology 2990 Textbook Notes CHAPTER 1: PSYCHOLOGY AND THE LAW The Canadian Justice System - Consists of criminal and civil law o Civil- A party (the plaintiff) brings a complaint against another (the defendant) for violating the formers rights in some way; Crime against another person o Criminal- When someone commits a crime and the police arrest a suspect, the Crown attorney’s office usually decides whether there is enough evidence to press formal charges; Crime against the Crown - All the steps in the legal process are intensely social psychological - In recent years social psychologists have studied legal system a lot because: o It’s a good applied setting to study psychological processes o It is very important in daily life Eyewitness Testimony - In countries such as Canada, the legal system assigns a great deal of significance to eyewitness testimony o E.g., Thomas Sophonow  The eyewitness testimony that was near scene of crime was enough to convict him twice - The most common cause of an innocent person being convicted is an erroneous eyewitness Why Are Eyewitnesses Often Wrong? - We can’t record an event, store it over time, and then play it back accurately - To be an accurate eyewitness, a person must complete 3 stages of memory processing: o Acquisition o Storage o Retrieval of the events witnessed - Acquisition- The process by which people notice and pay attention to info. In the enviro. o People can’t acquire everything around them so they acquire a subset of info. around them - Storage- The process by which people store in memory the information they have acquired from the enviro. - Retrieval- The process by which people recall info. stored in their memory Acquisition - Crimes usually occur under the conditions that make acquisition difficult: o Quickly o Unexpectedly o Under poor viewing conditions (e.g., night) - As distance increases, the accuracy of eyewitness identification decreases - The more stress people are under, the worse their memory will be for people involved in and details of a crime o In crime situation people would be afraid and stressed - Victims tend to focus attention more on any weapon they see and less on the suspect’s features o Leads to poor memory of suspect - The information people notice and pay attention to is also influenced by what they expect to see o Research confirms people are bad at noticing the unexpected - Unfamiliar events and people are more difficult to remember than familiar o E.g., own-race bias - Own-Race Bias- The finding that people are better at recognizing faces within their own race than those of other races o This occurs because people have more contact with people of their own race, which allows them to learn how to better distinguish one individual from another o Effects are evident at an early age o Also occurs because when examining same-race faces, people pay close attention to individuating features that distinguish a face from others Storage - Few of us have photographic memory and memories fade with age - People get confused about where they heard or saw something o Memories in one album get confused with memories in another o Results in people having quite inaccurate recall about what they saw - Reconstructive Memory- The process by which memories of an event become distorted by info. encountered after the event has occurred - Loftus (1979) found that misleading questions can change peoples minds - People are more likely to incorporate misinformation into their memories when the event they have witnessed produces a negative emotion o Crimes usually cause negative emotion - Adults with intellectual disabilities may be especially vulnerable to being swayed by leading questions - Misleading questions cause a problem with source monitoring - Source Monitoring- The process by which people try to identify the source of their memories Retrieval - Suspect lineups have a higher success rate than showing only one person with eyewitnesses - Also problems with how people retrieve info. from memory - Witnesses often choose the person in the lineup who most resembles the criminal, even if resemblance is not strong o The “best guess” problem - To avoid the best guess problem and other problems with lineups psychologists recommend that police follow these steps: 1. Make sure everyone in lineup resembles witnesses description of the suspect a. Create less of a chance that witness will choose the person who looks most like culprit 2. Tell the witness that the person suspected of the crime may or may not be in the lineup a. Creates more of a chance that witness will say “they’re not sure” or “the culprit isn’t present” rather than taking the best guess b. False identifications are more likely to occur when people believe witness is in the lineup 3. Don’t always include the suspect in the initial lineup a. If witness picks out someone from a false lineup than you know witness isn’t reliable 4. Make sure the person conducting lineup doesn’t know who the suspect is a. Avoids possibility that the person will unintentionally communicate to witness who the suspect is 5. Present pictures of people sequentially instead of simultaneously a. Makes it difficult for witness to compare all the pictures and choosing the one that most resembles criminal, even if criminal isn’t there 6. Present witness with photographs of people and sound recordings of their voices a. Witnesses who see and hear members of a lineup are more likely to identify the correct person than if they just see or just hear members b. It was found that people are quite inaccurate at identifying voices 7. Don’t use composite face programs a. Sometimes witnesses are asked to reconstruct face of suspect on computers made for this b. Faces generated with these programs don’t look much like suspect c. Research shows witnesses who use these programs have worse memory for suspects than people who did not use 8. Try to minimize the time between the crime and the identification of suspects a. The longer time in between, the greater the likelihood of error Judging Whether Eyewitnesses Are Mistaken - There is evidence that confident witnesses are more likely to be believed by police investigators, judges, and jurors Does Certainty Mean Accuracy? - Many studies have shown that a witness’s confidence is not strongly related to his or her accuracy Signs Of Accurate Testimony - Accurate witnesses tend to say “they don’t know how they recognized him, his face just popped out at them” - Inaccurate witnesses tend to say “they used a process of elimination whereby they compared one face to another” - Taking more time and thinking more carefully about the pictures in lineups was associated with making more mistakes - Research has shown people are most accurate when they make their judgments quickly- In 10 seconds or less The Problem With Verbalization - Studies have shown that trying to put an image of a face into words can make people’s memory worse o It’s suggested that it is difficult to do and impairs memory for that face - Even when people are aware of eyewitness issues, they still could be persuaded by a confident witness in a real trial Judging Whether Eyewitnesses Are Lying - Even if eyewitnesses have accurate memory of what they saw, they might deliberately lie on the witness stand - Sometimes the truth in wrongful convictions is never established - Studies show whereas people are better than chance at telling lies from truths, their level of accuracy isn’t impressive o People correct about 54% of time o Accuracy rates even lower when people try to detect lies in members of other ethnic groups - Confidence that you have correctly identified lies and truths isn’t strongly correlated with accuracy - People with lots of experience in dealing with liars (U.S. custom officers, detectives, judges) aren’t anymore accurate at detecting lies than university students o If given extensive training, accuracy can improve but performance is still far from perfect Are Polygraph Machines Accurate At Detecting Lies? - Polygraph (lie detector)- A machine that measures peoples physiological responses; Polygraph operators attempt to tell if someone is lying by observing how that person responds physiologically while answering questions o When people lie they become anxious, which can be detected by increases in heart rate, breathing rate, and so on - Reveals whether someone is lying or not at levels better than chance- 86% of the time - Still allows for substantial number of errors, including false positives - Because of high error rates, the Canadian justice system doesn’t allow results of polygraph evidence to be used in court - People can purposefully act in ways that reduce the validity of the results of polygraph tests Can Eyewitness Testimony Be Improved? - 2 approaches have been tried but neither proven very successful o The first involves hypnosis  No hard evidence that people’s memories improve when hypnotized  When hypnotized people are more susceptible to suggestion, coming to believe they saw things they didn’t  People tend to become more confident in memories after being hypnotized  The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that witness testimony that has been obtained under hypnosis isn’t admissible in court o The second involves the use of cognitive interview  Done by asking a person to recall the event several times from different starting points and by asking person to create a mental image of the scene  Research on this technique has been mixed - Cognitive Interview- A technique in which a trained interviewer tries to improve eyewitnesses’ memories by focusing their attention on the details and context of the event - Gary Wells says the most effective way to reduce false convictions is to improve how police conduct eyewitness interviews and identification procedures The Recovered Memory Debate - Recovered Memories- Recollections of an event, such as sexual abuse, that have been forgotten or repressed - Accuracy of recovered memories is highly controversial - False Memory Syndrome- Remembering a past traumatic experience that is objectively false but nevertheless accepted as true - Evidence shows people can acquire vivid memories of events that never occurred o Especially if someone, such as a psychotherapist, suggests that the events occurred - Memories of abuse or other traumas can be false o Although not all recovered memories are false - In a study, participants were more likely to believe the daughter’s allegation of sexual abuse than the father’s denial o But people were swayed by the expert testimony they were exposed to (e.g., such memories tend to be accurate or false) - In a study, descriptions of fabricated traumatic events had fewer specific details about time and place than actual traumas and were rated as less believable o Participants reported stronger emotional reactions to the fabricated traumas that the actual ones when asked about events o But when describing events fabricated traumas were less emotional o The tendency to “go over the top” when reporting on reactions to fabricated traumas was also reflected in participants’ reports of how often they thought about event, their level of traumatic stress, & their experience of post traumatic stress disorder symptoms - In another study the same thing was apparent plus people exhibited more speech hesitations and made more references to other people than those expressing genuine remorse Other Kinds Of Evidence Expert Testimony - Evidence shows that jurors may not always understand judge’s instructions about the kinds of evidence that are permissible from an expert witness and the kinds that should be disregarded - Research shows jurors are influenced by expert testimony - Canadian courts have shown tendency to move away from expert testimony or at least impose more stringent criteria for using it - Martin Peters says jury members are already assumed to know what a psychologist might have to offer - Other judges are concerned that the jury will rely to heavily on what experts have to say, rather than critically evaluate info. themselves - Psychologists are now being used to educate judges in the U.S. about the various inaccuracies in eyewitness testimony o Intent is for judges to pass on info. to jury Physical Evidence - When crimes occur, forensic experts scrutinize the scene for footprints, fingerprints, and samples of hair or fibres - DNA testing is more conclusive than most evidence but jurors may be quick to convict based on DNA w/o knowing its limitations - Elizabeth Loftus suggests that other kinds of physical evidence tend not to be very persuasive Statistical Evidence - According to civil law the blue bus company should be held responsible if it’s “more likely than not” that a blue bus killed the dog - Participants in study were more swayed by eyewitness testimony than statistical evidence - Physical and statistical evidence aren’t very persuasive Juries: Group Processes In Action - The way juries reach verdicts is directly relevant to social psychological research on group processes and social interaction - Trial by jury was an established institution in England at the beginning of the 17 century, and was adopted by Canada in 1867 - Jury system is criticized for lacking ability to understand complex evidence and reach a dispassionate verdict - Problems can arise at all phases of a jury trial o The way jurors process info. during the trial o The way they deliberate in the jury room after all the evidence has been presented How Jurors Process Information During The Trial - Lawyers present evidence in 1 of 2 ways 1. Story Order-Present evidence in the sequence that they occurred, corresponding as close as possible to the story they want jurors to believe 2. Witness Order- They present witnesses in the sequence they think will have the greatest impact - Best strategy is to present in story order rather than witness order because jurors are ultimately swayed by the story or schema they think best explains the sequence of events - One reason conviction rate in felony trials is so high is that in real trials, prosecutors usually present in story order and defence attorneys usually use witness order Confessions: Are They Always What They Seem - Many cases never go to trial because the defendant pleads guilty after confessing to a crime - Saul Kassin has shown that the interrogation process can go wrong in ways that elicit false confessions o Even to the point where innocent suspects come to believe they actually commit the crime o One problem is that police interrogators are often convinced the suspect is guilty, which biases how they conduct the interrogation  They ask leading questions, isolate suspects and put them under considerable stress, claim that an eyewitness has identified the suspect, and sometimes make false promises o Also after long interrogation process innocent people become psychologically fatigued and don’t know what to think and come to believe they’re guilty  Likely to happen to highly suggestible people - Offenders who thought police had strong evidence on them were more likely to confess than those who believed the evidence was weak - One solution to confessions issue is to videotape interrogations so juries can view it and judge for themselves o Raises other potential problems  If we focus our attention on one person in the group (b/c camera angle) we tend to think he/she is having a large influence on the convo.  Also judges and juries can’t see interactions between police interrogator and suspect before the video and therefore miss important contextual info. Deliberations In The Jury Room - Even if most jurors want to vote to convict, there may be a persuasive minority that changes the minds of the rest - Majority opinion of jurors usually carries the day, bringing dissenting jurors into line - If dissenting juror doesn’t succumb to pressure, they may be ejected from group - Deliberation is still good because: o Forcing jurors to reach a unanimous verdict makes them consider evidence more carefully, rather than just assuming their initial impressions of the case were correct o Even if minority jurors rarely succeed in changing majorities mind, they often change people’s mind about how guilty a person is - In criminal trials, juries usually have some discretion about the type of guilty verdict they reach Why Do People Obey The Law - Ultimately, the success of the legal system depends on keeping people out of it Do Severe Penalties Deter Crime? - Analysts have attributed the decrease in crime to the aging population, Canada’s economy, and new approaches to preventing and solving crimes - Deterrence Theory- The theory that people refrain from criminal activity because of the threat of legal punishment, as long as the punishment is perceived as relatively severe, certain, and swift - Surveys found that many people are ignorant of the penalties for different crimes - Other types of crime aren’t based on a rational decision-making process - Severe penalties will work as a deterrent only when people know what the penalties are, believe it is relatively certain they will be caught, and weigh the consequences before deciding whether to commit a crime - Results of a study suggest severity of a penalty itself doesn’t act as a deterrent but that an increase in the certainty of being caught does - Because people aren’t considering the consequences of their actions, the death penalty doesn’t act as a deterrent o Another argument to not use death penalty is that many innocent people have been sentenced to death - Penalties are almost never applied with speed o If process were sped up, the death penalty could act as a deterrent - Referring to studies, death penalty executions are followed by an increase in murders o Because observing someone else commit a violent act weakens people’s inhibitions against aggression, leads to imitation of aggression, and numbs their sense of horror or violence Procedural Justice: People’s Sense Of Fairness - A reason people obey the law is b/c of their moral values about what constitutes good behaviour - People will obey the law if they think that it’s just, even if they’re unlikely to be caught breaking it - An important factor that determines whether people think a law is just is their perception of fairness of legal proceedings - Procedural Justice- People’s judgments about the fairness of the procedures used to determine outcomes, such as whether they are guilty or innocent of a crime - People who feel they have been treated fairly are more likely to comply with the law than are people who feel they have been treated unfairly CHAPTER 2: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF POLICE INTERROGATIONS - Psychologists have found many key investigative tasks where psychology is particularly relevant o One of them relates to the collection and evaluation of investigative info.- Info. that is often obtained from suspects o Another relates to investigative decision making, especially decisions that require an in-depth understanding of criminal behaviour Police Interrogations - Regardless of whether corroborative evidence is required, it is likely that people who confess to a crime are more likely to be convicted and prosecuted than those who don’t - Police Interrogation- A process whereby the police interview a suspect for the purpose of gathering evidence and obtaining a confession - Police interrogations were physically coercive in the past but less frequent over time o Now been replaced with more subtle, psychologically based interrogation techniques  Such as lying about evidence, promising lenient treatment, and implying threats to loved ones The Reid Model Of Interrogation - Police officers around the world often receive specialized training in exactly how to extract confessions from suspects o Different approaches are taught in different places - Most common training in North America is based on a book written by Inbau et al. (2004) called Criminal Interrogation and Confessions o Within this manual, the authors describe a now-famous Reid model of interrogation  Developed by John E. Reid - Reid Model- A nine-step model of interrogation used frequently in North America to extract confessions from suspects o At a general level, it consists of a 3 part process  The first is to gather evidence related to the crime and to interview witnesses and victims
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