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PSYC 3020 Chapter Notes -American Psychological Association, Forensic Psychiatry, Eyewitness Memory

Course Code
PSYC 3020
Dan Yarmey

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Friday, January 18, 2012
Unit 1: An Introduction To Psychology of Law
-formal interactions between psychology and law have existed since the middle of the
19th century and can even be traced back to the writings of the early Greek philoso-
phers when physiology was identified as part of the discipline of philosophy
-not all legal professionals are convinced that what psychology has to offer is necessar-
ily valuable
Psychology and Law
Law - the sum of all the rules governing behaviour that is enforceable in courts
-the law is concerned with control of human behaviour and social justice
-laws reflect values, and values are basic psychological concepts
Values - standards for decision making
-laws are created, amended or discarded because society has established standards
for what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour
-legal issues often involves questions that have been or could be studied for their basic
psychological foundations and implications
Common “Understandings” of the Criminal Justice System
-people believe the criminal justice system operates much like a set of well-oiled ma-
chines connected one to another
Law-Passing Machine - (the government), acts like a thermostat which measures the
temperature of society and passes laws against anything which raises society’s anger or
indignation beyond some reasonable or tolerable threshold point
Enforcing Machine - (the police), goes to work surveying the city and countryside for
any signs of disturbance and reaches out which its long arm to capture whoever seems
to be responsible for committing dastardly deeds
Justice-Dispensing Machine - (the courts), checks the enforcing machine has func-
tioned properly, matches the evidence of guilty and relevant law, then dispenses a just
Culprit-Processing Machine - responsible for punishment and rehabilitation so that he
or she will not offend on release from prison
-if the picture described above was accurate there would be no need for forensic psy-
chology, or psychology of law

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Friday, January 18, 2012
-“justice” in reality is a human product
-psychology is center stage in its contribution to the systematic analysis of the actions,
motives, thoughts and feelings of all of the peopled situations involved in this process
-forensic psychology attempts to facilitate the various branches of the justice system
through objective analyses, recommendations and treatment of factors which may de-
tract from the objectivity of the legal process
Read Textbook Chapter 1
Chapter 1: An Introduction to Forensic Psychology
Forensic Psychology - a field of psychology that deals with all aspects of human be-
haviour as it relates to the law or legal system
-the way the media portray forensic psychology is usually inaccurate
What is Forensic Psychology?
-experts in the area don’t even agree on what the field should be called, some refer to it
as legal psychology or criminological psychology
-a narrow definition might focus on clinical aspects (forensic assessment, treatment and
consultation) while ignoring experimental research
-this definition means the only individual who should call themselves forensic psycholo-
gists are those who engage in clinical practice, not researchers
-a broad definition is “(a) the research endeavour that examines aspects of human be-
haviour directly related to the legal process and (b) the professional practice of psychol-
ogy within, or in consultation with, a legal system that embraces both civil and criminal
-this textbook adopts a broad definition
The Roles of a Forensic Psychologist
The Forensic Psychologists 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

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Friday, January 18, 2012
-can include both research and practice in a wide variety of settings such as schools,
prisons, and hospitals
-issues they are be interested in: divorce and child custody mediation, determinations of
criminal responsibility (insanity), providing expert testimony on questions of a psycho-
logical nature
-personnel selection, conducting critical incident stress debriefings with police officers,
and designing and conducting treatment programs for offenders
-Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island require a
master’s degree in Psychology
-New Brunswick, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec required a Ph.D in
Forensic Psychiatry - a field of medicine that deals with all aspects of human behav-
iour as it relates to the law or legal system
-the biggest difference between forensic psychiatry and psychology is that psychiatrists
are medical doctors who can prescribe medication
-psychologists tend to view mental illness more as a product of an individual’s physiolo-
gy, personality and environment
The Forensic Psychologists as a Researcher
Experimental Forensic Psychologists - broadly concerned with the study of human
behaviour as it relates to the law or legal system
-research issues of interest include: examining the effectiveness of risk-assessment
strategies, determining what factors influence jury decision making, developing and test-
ing better ways to conduct eyewitness lineups, evaluating offender and victim treatment
programs, studying the impact of questioning style on eyewitness memory recall and ex-
amining the effect of stress management interventions on police officers
-most have undergone Ph.D level graduate training
The Forensic Psychologist as a Legal Scholar
-far less common
-forensic psychologists who are much more informed about the legal process and legal
-engage in scholarly analyses of mental health law and psychologically oriented legal
-applied work would most likely center around policy analysis and legislative consulta-
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