CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION 9/12/2013 11:53:00 AM
Forensic psychology: a field of psychology that deals with all aspects of
human behavior as it relates to the law or legal system.
Often referred to as legal or criminological psychology
Narrow definitions: focus on certain aspects of the field while ignoring
other important ones. Focuses on application Ie. clinical forensics.
Broad definitions: less restrictive than narrow definitions. Focused on
application and research in forensics.
The Role of a Forensic Psychologist
Clinical forensic psychologist: broadly concerned with the assessment
and treatment of mental health issues as they pertain to the legal or law
system. Ie. may determine fitness to stand trial. May need a license.
Forensic psychiatry: a field of medicine that deals with all aspects of
human behavior as it relates to the law or legal system. Can prescribe
medication, unlike forensic psychologists, and relate to medical models.
Experimental forensic psychologists: psychologists who are broadly
concerned with the study of human behavior as it relates to the law or
legal system. Ie. interested in any research issues.
Forensic legal scholars: professors that allow others to receive degrees
Relationship between psychology and the law
Psychology AND the law: the use of psychology to examine the
operation of the legal system. Ie. “Are eyewitnesses accurate?”
Psychology IN the law: the use of psychology in the legal system as
that system operates. Ie. claiming that based on psychological
assessment a witness may have incorrectly identified a suspect.
Psychology OF the law: the use of psychology to examine the law
itself. Ie. “Does this law reduce the crime in our society?”
History of Forensic Psychology
Catell: developed the psychology of eyewitness testimony. Found they were
often inaccurate, Binet: found that children’s testimonies were highly susceptible to
Stern: conducted the “reality experiment”, demonstrated that emotional
arousal can have an impact on the accuracy of a person’s testimony.
Schrenck-Notzing: said that pretrial media coverage could influence
testimonies by retroactive memory falsification, which is when witnesses
confuse actual memories of events by those described by the media
Munsterberg: the father of forensic psychology. Critiqued heavily by
How is Forensic Psychology an Established Discipline?
1. a growing number of high quality textbooks
2. Large number of academic journals
3. A number of professional associations have been developed (AP-LS being
4. New training opportunities in forensic psychology (ie. undergraduate and
graduate) are being established in North America
5. APA has formally recognized it as a specialty discipline
Expert Witness: a witness who provides the court with information (often
an opinion) that assists the court in understanding the issue of relevance to
a case. In contrast to eyewitnesses, who can only comment on what they
saw. They are an educator to the judge and jury.
What dimensions to psychology and law differ along? Knowledge,
methodology, epistemology, criteria, nature of law, principles, latitude
General acceptance test: a standard for accepting expert testimony,
which states that an expert testimony will be admissible in court if the basis
of the testimony is generally accepted by the relevant scientific community.
Issues with its vagueness.
Daubert criteria: a standard for accepting an expert testimony. States that
1) the research must be peer reviewed, 2) the research is testable, 3) the
research has a recognized rate of error, and 4) the research adheres to
professional standards Mohan criteria: a standard for accepting an expert testimony. States that
1) evidence must be relevant in that it makes the case more or less likely 2)
the evidence must be necessary in assisting the trier of fact, 3) the evidence
must not violate other rules of exclusion 4) the testimony must be presented
by a qualified expert CHAPTER 3: 56-74 9/12/2013 11:53:00 AM
Police interrogation: goal is to gain info from a suspect that furthers the
investigation, or to obtain a confession.
Physical coercions have been slowly replaced by psychological ones.
Reid model: nine-step method of interrogation used in North America to
Inbau suggests other ways that make extraction easier: use a
plainly decorated room, having an evidence folder in your hand,
making sure the suspect is alone before the interrogator enters the
Goal is to reverse certain affairs (ie. consequences must outweigh
the anxiety felt by deception, and consequences should seem more
Studies show that even after training people don’t seem to detect
deception any better – exception in Canada
Miranda rights may not provide the protection that they are
supposed to, research shows
Many don’t understand their rights, especially young people and
those with impaired intellectual ability
Study: participants were presented with their right to silence and
legal action, both in verbal and written format. Shows that written
format with multiple elements make understanding easier for the
Investigator bias: bias occurring when interviewer thinks the
suspect is guilty
Study: mock trial. Some interrogators were led to believe some
were innocent, others, guilty, of a crime. “Suspects” were told to
convince them of their innocence, and interrogators were told to
devise a questioning strategy.
o Interrogaors with guilty expectations asked more questions
indicating their belief in the suspects’ guilt; higher frequency
of interrogation techniques; judged more suspects to be
guilty; exerted more pressure; suspects read their interrogator’s behavior accurately; and neutral observers
could tell when more pressure was exerted
As a judge, must be able to tell when the confession was voluntary
and whether the defendant was competent when it was made.
PEACE Model and Confessing
England and Wales: call interrogation investigative interviewing
Self reported false confessions range from -.6-12%
Coerced compliant confessions are the most common type
Confabulation: reporting of events that never actually occurred CHAPTER 4: 90-107 9/12/2013 11:53:00 AM
Polygraph: device for recording an individual’s autonomic nevous
system responses physiological responses to an examiner
Canadian Police College training
Polygraph disclosure test: polygraph tests used to uncover info
about an offender’s past behavior
Most common response in GKT: palmar sweating Also eyeblinks and
pupil diameter CHAPTER 5 9/12/2013 11:53:00 AM
Recall memory: reporting details of a previously witness
Recognition memory: determining whether a previously seen
item is the same as what is currently being viewed.
Estimator variables: variables that are present at the time of the
crime and cannot be changed ie. the age of the witness, presence
of a weapon, etc
System variables: variables that can be manipulated to increase
eyewitness accuracy ie. type of interview, type of lineup procedure
Three General Dependent Variables in Eyewitness Studies
1. Recall of crime/event
2. Recall of the culprit
3. Recognition of the culprit
Can be open-ended/free narrative or direct question recall.
Examined by the amount, type, and accuracy of information
For recognition, the typical task is a lineup. Examined for accuracy
of decision and type of errors made.
Police limit themselves by interrupting during a free recall session,
asked many short/specific questions, and asked questions in
random orders (decrease recall by 19%)
Misinformation/post-event information effect: where the
witness is presented with inaccurate info after an event, and they
incorporate this false info in late recall tasks about it ie. the eight
demonstrators study: change around one little number and the
answers lean towards this detail