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PSYC 3020 (97)
Dan Yarmey (94)
Chapter 1

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University of Guelph
PSYC 3020
Dan Yarmey

Chapter 1 – An Introduction to Forensic Psychology What is Forensic Psychology?  A field of psychology that deals with all aspects of human behavior as it relates to the law or legal system.  The APA petitioned for the inclusion of forensic psychology as a specialization under a narrow definition to include clinical but not research applications of psychology to the legal system. Roles of a Forensic Psychologist  Clinical forensic psychologist o Indulge in both research and practice. o Primarily they are concerned with the assessment and treatment of mental illnesses within the legal system. o Typically requires a PhD (MA minimum in some provinces), and a practical component that is supervised. This is then followed with an exam that includes an oral component. o Areas of practice include:  Divorce and child custody mediation  Determining insanity and fitness to stand trial  Expert testimony  Personnel selection  Designing and conducting programs for offenders  Conducting critical incident stress debriefings with police officers o Clinical forensic psychologists differ from forensic psychiatrists in that forensic psychiatrists are medical doctors and can prescribe medicine.  The forensic psychologist as a researcher o more concerned with:  examining the effectiveness of the risk-assessment strategies  determining what factors influence jury decision making  developing and testing better ways to conduct eyewitness lineups  evaluating offender and victim treatment programs  studying the impact of questioning style on eyewitness memory recall  Examining the effect of stress management interventions on police officers.  The forensic psychologist as a Legal scholar o These are usually well rounded people who have degrees in other subject areas as well. They deal primarily in analyses of “mental health law and psychologically oriented legal movements, and apply their work to political analysis and legislative consultation”.  The relationship between psychology and law o Psychology and the law  Where the two disciplines are separate but used together to examine assumptions made by the legal system o Psychology in the law  This involves the use of psychological in the legal system. Basically meshing the two subject areas together. o Psychology of the law  Involves the use of psychology to understand the law itself. The History of Forensic Psychology  Early research: Eyewitness testimony and suggestibility o James McKeen Cattell conducted some of the first experiments in the field in North America at Columbia University.  He was a student of Wilhelm Wundt.  His experiment developed into what is now known as the psychology of eyewitness testimony  He asked people to recall things they’d seen in their everyday lives, and found the answers were often wrong. o Alfred Binet  His studies in children found their testimony was highly susceptible to suggestive questioning techniques. (if the question was structured a certain way they could change the child’s response)  He showed a bunch of kids something and then asked then to write down everything they remember about it (free recall), then he asked direct (“how was the button attached to the board?”) and “guiding” questions ranging from mildly suggestive (“Wasn’t the button attached to the board with a string?”) to highly suggestive (“What color was the string that attached the button to the board?”) and found that the free recall provided the most accurate information. o William Stern  the reality experiment – now commonly used by eyewitness researchers to study recall and recognition.  He had students witness staged scenarios and recall them  Found that a person’s emotional arousal can impact the accuracy of their testimony  Early court cases in Europe o These are psychologists who called to testify at court cases. o 1986, Albert Von Schrenck-Notzing  Case of series of 3 sexual murders  The first expert witness to provide testimony on pretrial publicity on memory  Pretrial publicity can cause retroactive memory falsification – where the witness confuses actual memories with what is being said in the media. o 1911, Jullian Varendonck  Case of a murdered young girl, Cecile  Used research to prove the unreliability of children’s testimony, to prevent an innocent man from going to jail because the children’s answers changed via suggestive questioning.  Advocates of Forensic Psychology in North America o Hugo Munsterberg  Published On the Witness Stand in 1908  Also a student of Wilhelm Wundt.  Considered to be the father of forensic psychology  His book was heavily critiqued by John Henry Wigmore, and it is believe that Wigmore’s critiques further motivated psychologists to do more research and get forensic psychology on the map.  Forensic Psychology in Other areas of the Criminal Justice System o 1909 - forensic psychologists were instrumental in establishing the first clinic for juvenile delinquents. o 1917 – psychologists began using psychological testing for law enforcement selection purposes o 1919 – the first forensic assessment laboratory set up in a US police agency. o 1921 – U.S. psychologists started testifying in court  Starting with State v. Driver  Landmark Court Cases in the United States o State v. Driver (1921)  Attempted rape of a young girl  Psychologists testified in regards to juvenile delinquency  The court rejected the psychologists testimony of the girl being a “moron” and said that there needed to more research to prove that there was a pl
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