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Chapter 1

PSYC 2400 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Psychology Today, Mental Health Law, Morning Sickness

Course Code
PSYC 2400
Adelle Forth

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DPSYC2400B Textbook
CH 1
FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY: a field of psychology that deals with all aspects of human
behaviour as it relates to the law or legal system
Early Research on Testimony and Suggestibility
- James Cattell conducted experiments looking at what would later be called
the psychology of eyewitness testimony. )n Cattell’s paper called
Measurements of the Accuracy of Recollection, Cattell asked 56 university
students in psychology to think back on things they witnessed in their
everyday lives. E.g. What was the weather a week ago today?. (e found
that the students’ answers were often inaccurate and the relationship
between their accuracy and confidence [that their recollection was accurate]
were far from perfect. Cattell viewed his findings as having potential to assist
in courts of justice
- Alfred Binet presented many studies in which he showed that testimonies
provided by children were highly susceptible to suggestive questioning
- William Stern also began conducting examining the suggestibility of
witnesses. The reality experiment now commonly used by eyewitness
researchers to study eyewitness recall and recognition). Through an
experiment conducted with fellow criminologist Franz von Liszt, they
concluded that emotional arousal could have a negative impact on the
accuracy of a person’s testimony.
Court Cases in Europe
- Albert von Schrenck-Notzing was probably the first expert witness to
provide testimony in court about the effect of pre-trial publicity on memory.
The case involved a series of three sexual murders in 1896. Because the
crimes attracted a lot of attention from the press, Schrenck-Notzing testified
that the extensive pre-trial press coverage could influence the testimony of
people by causing what he called retroactive memory falsification a process
whereby people confused actual memories of events with the events
described by the media
Landmark Court Cases in the United States
- In the early to mid-1900s, psychologists in the US began to become more
involved in the judicial system as expert witnesses
- State v. Driver 1921 the case involved attempted rape of a young girl and
the court accepted expert evidence from a psychologist in the area of juvenile
delinquency. However, the court rejected the psychologist’s testimony that
the young girl was a moron and, therefore, could not be believed. )n the
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ruling the court stated, )t is yet to be determined that psychological and
medical tests are practical and will detect the lie on the witness stand.
Progress in Canada
- The majority of the US states require doctoral-level training before one can
become a licenced psychologist, however several Canadian provinces and
territories only require a master’s degree. Canadian courts may perceive this
to be an inadequate level of training to qualify as an expert in some
circumstances, especially when compared to the medical degree held by
forensic psychiatrists. Canada has allowed forensic psychologists to provide
testimonies on a wide range of other issues, and as forensic psychology
continues to develop in Canada it’s likely that the value of this field for the
courts will continue to increase.
A Legitimate Field of Psychology
- The APA formally recognized forensic psychology as a specialty discipline in
2001 and recertified by the APA in 2008
Forensic Psychology Today
- A narrow definition might focus on clinical aspects of the field, while ignoring
the experimental research that many psychologists who refer to themselves
as forensic psychologists conduct; as Otto and (eilbrun stated, )t was
ultimately decided that the petition… should define forensic psychology
narrowly, to include the primarily clinical aspects of forensic assessment,
treatment, and consultation. According to this definition, the only people
who should call themselves forensic psychologists are those individuals
occupied in clinical practice (i.e. assessing, treating, or consulting) within the
legal system. Psychologists who spend all their time conducting forensic
research would not technically be considered forensic psychologists.
- More broadly, Bartol and Bartol define the discipline as  the research
endeavour that examines aspects of human behaviour directly related to the
legal processes… and  the professional practice of psychology within or in
consultation with a legal system that embraces both criminal and civil law
and the numerous areas where they intersect- focuses on the research that
is required to inform applied practice in the field of forensic psychology. This
research often stems from areas of psych that are not obviously connected
with the forensic area, such as social, personality, cognitive, organizational,
and developmental psychology
The Roles of a Forensic Psychologist
- Three roles in particular are important to discuss: the forensic psychologist
as clinician, the forensic psychologist as researcher, and the forensic
psychologist as legal scholar
- The forensic psychologist as a clinician - clinical forensic psychologists:
psychologists who are broadly concerned with the assessment and treatment
of mental health issues as they pertain to the law or legal system
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