PSYC37H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 11: Durham Rule, Model Penal Code, Malingering

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21 Apr 2012

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Topic 11BForensic Applications
Psychology and legal system have a long and uneasy alliance
characterized by mistrust on both sides
Lawyers and judges don’t maintain apathy towards the
testimonies of psychologists because they consider it a junk
Psychologist may be called upon for many things
oEvaluation of possible malingering
oAssessment of mental state for the insanity plea
oDetermination of competency to stand trial
oPrediction of violence and assessment of risk
oEvaluation of child custody in divorce
oAssessment of personal injury
oInterpretation of polygraph data
oSpecialized forensic personality assessment
These are the primary applications of forensic practice
Standards for the Expert Witness
Summary of the principles of expert testimony:
oWitness must be qualified expert, the education, training,
and experience will decide if the judge will allow the
testimony of the witness to be admitted
oTestimony must be about the proper subject matter, expert
must present info beyond the knowledge and experience of
the average juror
oValue of the evidence must outweigh its prejudicial effect, if
it confuses the issue at hand or prejudice the members of
the jury, it will be admissible
oTestimony should be in accordance with a generally
accepted explanatory theory
As in the case of Fyre vs. United States, the expert testimony was
refused because the scientific principle used hadn’t gained
general acceptance
According to the guidelines, a test, inventory or assessment
technique must have been available for a fairly long period of time
in order to have a history of general acceptance
In the late mid to late 1990s, the standards for expert testimony
were refined further
Several new guidelines in which trial judges may use in
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determining the admissibility of expert testimony include:
oIs the proposed theory or technique, on which the testimony
is to be based, testable?
oHas the proposed theory or technique been tested using
valid and reliable procedures and with positive results?
oHas the theory or technique been subjected to peer review?
oWhat is the known or potential error rate of the scientific
theory theory or technique?
oWhat standards controlling the technique’s operation
maximize its validity?
oHas the theory or technique been generally accepted as
valid by relevant scientific community?
oDo the expert’s conclusions reasonably follow from applying
the theory or technique to this case?
The Nature of Forensic Assessment
Forensic assessment is molded by the prerequisites of the legal
system, whereas traditional assessment is shaped by the needs of
the client and current professional standards
Both approaches seem the same but the types of information
sought, strategies for gathering it, and the manner of report
writing will be noticeably different
Traditional assessment usually is broad scale and provides a
comprehensive picture of a client’s functioning and treatment
Forensic assessment engages a narrow focus that may not even
appear to be “clinical” in nature
Another difference is the client’s role in the process
In traditional assessment the client voluntarily agrees to an
assessment and may even help determine the its scope and
In forensic assessment the client really has little or no choice in
the matter, unless he or she wants to aggravate the judge who
has authorized the assessment
In traditional assessment the written report is intended for other
professionals who understand the terms whereas in forensic
assessment, its meant for the judge and lawyers who care mainly
about the referral question
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Evaluation if Suspected Malingering
The client usually will be honest and want to tell their stories
Deception and manipulation are rare because clients rarely have
incentive for these strategies
In forensic setting however, it is the complete opposite
In the mind of a forensic client, fabrication if symptoms may serve
to excuse unacceptable behavior, sway sentencing
recommendations or gain entitlements
The most common and venerable method for identifying dishonest
clients is the clinical interview
According to the DSM, malingering is defined as: the intentional
production of false or grossly exaggerated physical or
psychological symptoms, motivated by external incentives
It is estimated that this occurs in 15-20% of forensic cases
Three tests are widely used to check for malingering: Structured
interview of reported symptoms, test of memory malingering and
certain MMPI-2 indices
Structured Interview of Reported Symptoms (SIRS)
A 172 item interview schedule designed expressly for the
evaluation of malingering
Assessed on 8 primary scales:
oRare symptoms (over reporting of infrequent symptoms)
oSymptom combinations (real psychiatric symptoms that
rarely occur together)
oImprobable or absurd symptoms (symptoms reveal a
fantastic quality)
oBlatant symptoms (over endorsement of obvious signs of
mental disorders)
oSubtle symptoms (over endorsement of everyday
oSeverity of symptoms (symptoms portrayed with
extreme, unbearable severity)
oSelectivity of symptoms (indiscriminant endorsement of
psychiatric problems)
oReported versus observed symptoms (comparison of
observed and reported symptoms)
Five supplementary scales are also used to interpret response
Of the 172 questions, 32 are repeated inquiries to detect
inconsistency of responding
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