PSYC 3310 Midterm Exam
Chapter 1: An Introduction to Forensic Psychology
Forensic Psychology: A field of psychology that deals with all aspects of human behavior as it
relates to the law or legal system.
Clinical forensic psychologist: Psychologist who is broadly concerned with the
assessment and treatment of mental health issues as they pertain to the law or legal
Forensic psychiatry: A field of medicine that deals with all aspects of human behavior
as it relates to the law or legal system.
Experimental forensic psychologist: Psychologist who is broadly concerned with the
study of human behavior as it relates to the law or legal system.
Cattell conducted an experiment based on the psychology of eyewitness testimony and
the various inaccuracies found in the given testimonies.
Hugo Munsterberg published a controversial book “On the Witness Stand” which many
believe to have pushed many psychologists into the legal arena. Discussed the role of
psychology in courts, police, and prison (eyewitness unreliability, suggestibility of
vulnerable witness, detection of deception, false confessions, and impact of questioning
Expert Witness: A witness who provides the court with information (often an opinion on
a particular manner) that assists the court in understanding an issue of relevance to a case.
Hess argues that psychology and law differs along seven different dimensions:
knowledge, methodology, epistemology, criteria, nature or law, principles, and latitude.
Sheldon and Macleod: Empirical research derived from findings by psychologists to
formulate norms of human behavior.
General Acceptance Test: a standard for accepting expert testimony which states that
expert testimony will be admissible in court if the basis of the testimony is generally
accepted within the relevant scientific community.
o Daubert criteria: scientific evidence is considered valid if the research has been
peer-reviewed, testable, has a recognized rate or error, and adheres to professional
standards. (US Only)
o Mohan criteria: In addition to requiring that the expert testimony is reliable or
valid, the evidence must be relevant, necessary for assisting the trier of fact, not
violate any other rules of exclusion, and from a qualified expert. (Canada Only)
Lecture (January 10, 2013)
Haney (1980) argues ways in which psychology and law interact: “and” / “in” / “of”
Psychologist‟s Role in the Legal Arena
o “Pure Scientist”: knowledge generated by basic research can promote better
understanding of law and its practices.
o “Expert Witness”: applying findings of the field to real world legal questions.
o “Policy Evaluator”: laws are constantly changing; new ones are being created or
re-interpreted. Legal modifications cry out for evaluation. Law is: prescriptive, hierarchical, adversarial, idiographic, certain, reactive, and
pragmatic. Psychology is: descriptive, empirical, experimental, nomothetic, probabilistic,
proactive, and academic.
Early Origins: Alfred Binet’s (1900) child susceptibility to suggestive questioning,
William Stern’s (1910) first reality experiment to demonstrate eyewitness fallibility, and
Sigmund Freud’s (1906) hidden psyche to get a truth.
Methods of Research: Observational (descriptive), Archival, Survey, and Experiments
(causality). Correlational study deals mainly with prediction.
o Observational: observe behavior as it is actually happening
o Archival: documents and records, external validity, only correlation due to bias.
o Survey: directionality and third variable problems
o Experimental: manipulation and variability of the IV, random assignment, control.
Threat to external validity and ethicality.
Factors to consider when evaluating research: Internal (IV >> DV) and External validity.
Chapter 2: The Psychology of Police Investigations
Police interrogation: A process whereby a police interview a suspect for the purpose of
gathering evidence and obtaining a confession.
A confession is a prosecutor‟s “most potent weapon” (Kassin, 1997) though it is usually
obtained through coercion or backed up by some form of evidence (Gudjonsson, 2003),
but the real trial occurs when the confession is first obtained (McCormick, 1972).
Mr. Big technique: a “criminal organization” as a front for the police to gain confession
from the suspect (Smith, Stinson, & Patry, 2009) regardless of how far they must go to
secure it at great lengths. Developed by RCMP.
Reid technique/model: Nine-step model of interrogation used frequently to extract
confessions from suspects.
1. Suspect is immediately confronted with guilt / bluffing about having conclusive evidence.
2. Suspect is given some time to justify, rationalize, or excuse the crime.
3. Interrogator interrupts any attempt at denial to ensure power and dominance over suspect.
4. Interrogator overcomes objections until suspect is quiet and withdrawn.
5. Interrogator ensures that suspect does not reduce psychological distance with suspect.
6. Interrogator exhibits sympathy and understanding. Urges suspect to „come clean.‟
7. Suspect is offered face-saving explanations for the crime. Likely to self-incriminate.
8. Interrogator develops admission into confession when suspect accepts responsibility.
9. Interrogator then finally gets suspect to write and sign a full confession.
o Inbau et al. (2004) provide other suggestions to effectively interrogate suspects
such as removing distractions, having evidence at hand, and isolating the suspect.
Minimization techniques: soft sell tactics used by police interrogators that are designed
to lull suspect into a false sense of security.
Maximization techniques: scare tactics used by police interrogators that are designed to
intimidate a suspect believed to be guilty.
Problem with Reid technique: deception and coerciveness of interrogation practices as
well as the lack of understanding the legal rights of an individual. Investigator Bias: Bias that results when interrogator already believing the guilt of the suspect
before entering the interrogation room to confront the person.
R. v. Hoilett (1999): “voluntary” statements influenced by inhumane police treatment.
Alternatives to Reid model: PEACE model (focus on gathering evidence than confession).
False Confession: A confession that is either intentionally fabricated or is not based on actual
knowledge of the facts that form its content.
Retracted Confession: A confession that the confessor later declares to be false.
Disputed Confession: A confession that is later disputed at trial.
Voluntary false confession is provided without any elicitation from the police.
Coerced-compliant false confession results from desire to escape coercive
interrogations or gain a benefit promised by the police. E.g. R. v. M.J.S. (2000).
Coerced-internalized false confession results from suggestive interrogation where
suspect comes to believe he/she committed the crime.
Compliance: tendency to go along demands perceived by authority.
Internalization: acceptance of guilt regardless if person did not actually commit it.
Confabulation: reporting events that never actually occurred.
Criminal profiling: investigative technique for identifying major personality or behavioral
characteristics of an individual based on analysis of crimes committed by the person in question.
o Based on theoretical model of personality that lacks strong empirical support.
o Information contains vague descriptions that ambiguity can set in for suspects.
o Professional profilers better than untrained individuals at constructing accurate.
David Canter: Investigative Psychology (1990s)
VICLAS: Violent Crime Linkage Analysis System (RCMP collect and analyze info)
o Linkage blindness: Inability of police to link geographically dispersed crimes
committed serially by the same person.
Deductive profiling: profiling based on evidence left at crime scenes by offender
Inductive profiling: profiling based on knowledge gathered in already-solved cases.
Organized-Disorganized model: Organizing crimes based on intellectual capacity of
offender (clean or messy perpetrator) (Hazelwood & Douglas, 1980).
Classic trait model: model of personality assuming internal traits.
Geographic profiling: uses crime scene locations to predict where offender resides.
Heuristics: Simple general rules that can be used to make decisions and solve problems.
However, there is much concern for biased decisions despite its accuracy.
Dr. Kim Rossmo: research on spatial behavior of offenders. Geographic profiling.
Lecture (January 17-24, 2013)
Hindsight bias: jurors have knowledge about outcome information (OI) that is not
legally relevant to the decision. Can influence judgments, especially in claims cases.
At least 284 wrongful convictions documented; based on false confessions
Drizin & Lee (2004): Study of actual false confessions: 81% conviction rate!
Hasel & Kassin (2009): Conf