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Chapter 1

Chapter 1 - Thorough Textbook Notes

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PSYC 3310
Justin Friesen

Chapter 1: An Introduction to Forensic Psychology September-29-13 6:23 PM  Forensic psychology - a field of psychology that deals with all aspects of human behavior as it relates to the law or legal system  Forensic psych is around us (newspaper, Hollywood - movies/TV shows involving profiling of serial killers, selecting jury members, or determining someone's sanity, etc.)  The way in which the media portray forensic psych is usually inaccurate o Although forensic psychologists often carry out the sorts of tasks you see depicted in the movies, the way in which they carry them out is typically different  Main goals of book: to provide a more accurate perception of what forensic psychology is and to encourage you to think more critically about the things you see and hear in the media. What is Forensic Psychology?  There is no generally accepted definition of "forensic psychology"  Ongoing debate about how it should be defined: whether it should be defined in a broad or narrow sense  Narrow definition: might focus on clinical aspects of the field while ignoring the experimental research that many psychologists conduct (these psychologists refer to themselves as forensic psychologists) o Many leading psychologists, and the professional associations to which they belong, prefer to define the discipline in this way o There was a petition made to the American Psychological Association in 2001 to recognize forensic psych as a specialization, and to define it narrowly, focusing on clinical aspects of forensic assessment, treatment and consultation o According to this definition, only people who deal with the clinical practice should be able to accurately call themselves forensic psychologists o People engaged in forensic research (studying memory loss of eyewitness, examining decision-making processes of jurors, or evaluating the effectiveness of offender treatment programs, etc.) would not o Thus, there are issues with the narrow definition  Broad definitions less restrictive than narrow o Bartol and Bartol's definition (2006): "a) the research endeavor that examines aspects of human behavior directly related to the legal process… and b) the professional practice of psychology within, or in consultation with a legal system that embraces both civil and criminal law" o i.e. narrow definition focuses on application of psychology, while the broad definition includes both the application and research o This text book typically uses the broad definition but focuses on the application, emphasizing how imperative research is to the application In the Media: The Reality of Reality TV  Crime always a popular topic for TV  Researchers interested in understanding the role that TV plays in shaping the perceptions and attitudes of viewers toward crime-related matters o Has recently taken on a new twist due to crime-related reality TV o Most popular crime-based reality TV show: COPS  If shows such as COPS are influencing perceptions of viewers (i.e. toward police and response to crime) then we must ask "Is this problematic?" o Related questions have to do with whether or not these shows provide an accurate portrayal of crime and our legal system's response to it  Aaron Doyle explored this issue, 2003 book Arresting Images: Crime and Policing in Front of the Television Camera o Despite COPS being presented as an "unfiltered" show, Doyle argues that COPS "offers a very particular and select vision of policing" o Doyle suggests labeling the show as "reality fiction" as opposed to reality TV o The show is a "constructed version of reality with its own biases, rather than a neutral record" o This makes more sense the more one understands about how shows like COPS are produced o i.e. it doesn't take place in real time (COPS episodes are made up of 7-8 minute vignettes, but really these incidents unfold over a matter of hours, but are edited later) o Each episode of COPS is edited down from about 50-60 hours of actual footage o Also, cameras and camera crews never seen in COPS, nor are civilian's reactions to the cameras - a lot of work goes into avoiding viewers thinking that the presence of cameras could have had an impact on what they are watching o Episodes are delivered in a way that ensures certain audience reactions o COPS uses a range of storytelling techniques to encourage viewers to identify with the police but not with suspects  So, consider the shows that you watch, how these shows may have influenced your perception toward topics to be covered in this course, and also whether or not this is a positive thing The Roles of a Forensic Psychologist  Common among varying definitions of forensic psych: interest in psychology and law  Forensic psychologists can be clinicians, researchers, or both and in some cases also legal scholars The Forensic Psychologist as a Clinician  Clinical forensic psychologists - study mental health issues related to legal system o i.e. schools, prisons and hospitals o Often concerned with the assessment and treatment of persons with mental disorders within the context of the law o Clinical forensic psychologists might have tasks such as validating assessment tools (such as those used to predict risk of an offender being violent, for example)  Other issues clinical forensic psychologists might be interested in are: o Divorce and child custody mediation o Determinations of criminal responsibility (insanity) and fitness to stand trial o Providing expert testimony on questions of a psychological nature o Personnel selection (i.e. for law enforcement agencies) o Conducting critical incident stress debriefings with police officers o Designing and conducting treatment programs for offenders  Clinical forensic psychologists must be licensed in clinical psychology in Canada and have specialized in forensic  Training varies among different provinces/territories of Canada, graduate-level training always required  In Ontario, Ph.D. is required, forensic specialization involves intense period of supervised practice, before and/or after completion of required degree, in an applied forensic setting o Last step of licensing process is comprehensive exam, often involved oral composition  Different between forensic psychology and forensic psychiatry: more similar than they are different o Most obvious difference: psychiatrists are medical doctors, can prescribe medication  Forensic psychiatry - field of medicine that deals with all aspects of human behavior as it relates to the law or legal system  Forensic psychiatrists must look at mental illness from medical model; forensic psychologists look at mental illness as combination of an individual's personality, physiology and environment Box 1: Other Forensic Disciplines  Many of the following are confused with forensic psychology:  Forensic anthropologists - examine remains of deceased victims to determine key facts about them, such as their gender, age and appearance  Forensic linguistics - examine spoken and written word in an attempt to assist criminal investigators (i.e. language analysis of suicide notes to determine if fake or genuine)  Forensic chemistry - study chemical aspects of crime scenes, which can include an analysis of paint particles, dyes, fibers, and other materials  Forensic odontology - study dental aspects of criminal activity, which can include identifying deceased victims through dental records and determining whether bite marks were made by an adult or a child  Forensic pathology - examine remains of dead bodies in an attempt to determine the time an cause of death through physical autopsy  Forensic entomology - concerned with how insects can assist with criminal investigations o Can tell when someone died based on insect presence and/or development Forensic Psychologist as a researcher:  Experimental forensic psychologists - psychologists who are broadly concerned with the study of human behavior as it relates to the law or legal system  Concerned with more than just mental health issues  Other interests: o Examining effectiveness of risk-assessment strategies o Determining what factors influence jury decision making o Developing and testing better ways to conduct eyewitness lineups o Evaluating offender and victim treatment programs o Studying the impact of questioning style on eyewitness memory recall o Examining the effect of stress management interventions on police officers  Forensic psychologists are required to have PhD level grad. Training (no internship typically required) The Forensic Psychologist as Legal Scholar  Less common than the previous two  Two initiatives at Simon Fraser Uni. (SFU) in Burnaby B.C. are important to mention 1. Psychology and Law program. Has more recently partnered with U of BC to allow people to obtain both their Ph.D. in psych as well as their L.L.B. in law. Produces psychologists who are far more knowledgeable about the legal system, which was not the case previously 2. Formation of the Mental Health, Law and Policy Institute at SFU i. Forensic psychologists in their role as legal scholars would most likely engage in scholarly analyses of mental health law and psychologically oriented legal movements, whereas applied work would likely center around policy analysis and legislative consultation The Relationship between Psychology and Law  Challenging field to be in because of diversity of roles and also because forensic psychology can be approached from many different angles  Three ways to approach it proposed by Craig Haney: 1. Psychology and the law - use of psych to examine the operation of the legal system 2. Psychology in the law - use of psych in the legal system as that system operates 3. Psychology of the law - use of psych to examine the law itself  Text focuses on first two, clinical aspects more so in first two  Third is largely domain of legal scholar role and will only be discussed briefly Psych and the Law  Psych viewed as separate discipline to the law  Analyses legal system and components of the law from psychological perspective  Research falls under category of psych and the law examines assumptions made by law or our legal system asking questions such as "are eyewitnesses accurate", "do certain interrogation techniques cause people to falsely confess?" and "are judges fair in the way they hand down sentences?", "is it possible to predict whether an offender will be violent when released from prison?"  Want to answer these questions to communicate them with legal community Psych in the Law  Involves use of psychological knowledge in the legal system  Once body of psych. Knowledge exists, tit can be used in the legal system  Has many different forms  May consist of psych in court providing expert testimony , might consist of police officer using his or her knowledge of psych in an investigation (i.e. interrogation based on knowledge of various psychological principles that are known to be useful for extracting confessions) Psychology of the Law  Uses psychology to study the law itself  "What role should the police play in domestic disputes?"; "does the law reduce the amount of crime in our society?" "What is important to allow for discretionary decision making in the Canadian criminal justice system?  Challenge is to address these sorts of questions, knowledge in more area than one is required (criminology, sociology, law)  Growing interest in this field The History of Forensic Psychology  Compared with other fields of psychology, when broadly defined, forensic psych has a relatively short history  19th century  Wasn't called forensic psych, nor did most psychologists conducting research in the field call themselves forensic psychologists Early Research: Eyewitness Testimony and Suggestibility  Forensic psych research in North America and Europe in late 19th century  James McKeen Catell (student of William Wundt) was major powerhouses of psych in North America  Cattell developed expertise in study of human cognitive processes while in Leipzig, cattell conducted some of the first North American experiments looking at what would later be called the psychology of eyewitness testimony  He'd ask people to recall things they had witnessed in their everyday lives and found that their answers were often inaccurate  Around same time, others started to study eyewitness testimony  Alfred Binet - showed that testimony provided by children was highly susceptible to suggestive questioning o Presented children with item (button attached to boar), were asked directly, some were told to write down everything they saw, some were asked directly how the button was attached to the board, others were mildly leading, wasn't the button attached by a threat, a and others were highly misleading, what was the color of thread that attached button to the board o When freely speaking, most accurate, misleading questions resulted in least accurate answers  After binet, William Stern also began conducting studies examining the suggestibility of witnesses o "reality experiment" - now commonly used by eyewitness researchers to study eyewitness recall and recognition can in fact be attributed to stern o Participants exposed to staged events and are then asked to recall information about the o Students arguing in classroom, one of students drew revolver o Sterns findings consistent with binet's in that eyewitness testimony can often be incorrect o Was perhaps the first person to demonstrate that a person's emotional arousal can have an impact on the accuracy of that person's testimony Early Court Cases in Europe  Around time of the experiments mentioned above, psychologists in Europe started appearing a witnesses in court  Much of their testimony surrounding the accuracy of eyewitness testimony  Albert von Schrenck-Notzing was probably first expert witness to provide testimony in court on the effect of pretrial publicity on memory o Germany, involved three sexual murders o Court case attracted a lot of attention o He testified that this pretrial press coverage could influence the testimony of witnesses by causing what he called retroactive memory falsification - process whereby witnesses confuse actual memories of events with the events described by the media o Testimony supported with lab research - research is very well in line with what we know about pretrial publicity from more recent studies  Julian Vrendonck - Belgian psychologist - court case where children were playing, one went missing, police asked them many suggestive questions, children changes their stories from not knowing anything to having seen the murder and even gave his name, eventually father of one of playmates arrested o Vrendonck convinced that the man was innocent, conducted experiments to demonstrate the unreliability of children's testimony - testimony provided by children in this case likely to be inaccurate and as a group children are very prone to suggestion Advocates of Forensic Psychology in North America  Years later psychologists began testifying on similar issues in North America, we were making progress in different areas of the criminal justice system  One of greatest landmarks: publication in 1908 of Hugo Munsterberg's On the Witness Stand  Munsterberg was also a student of Wilhelm Wundt, considered the father of forensic psychology  In his book, argued that psychology had much to offer the legal system o Discussed through a series of essays how psychology could assist with issues involving eyewitness testimony, crime detection, false confessions, suggestibility, hypnotisms and even crime prevention  He presented his ideas in a way that received criticism from the legal profession  Biggest critic: John Henry Wigmore, well-respected law professor at Northwestern University in Chicago  Wigmore through a book put Munsterberg on trial and was sued for offering more than he could afford  Wigmore criticized him for having a lack of relevant research publications to back up his claims and for the lack of applied research in the field of forensic psych as a whole  Perhaps because of Munsterberg's work, forensic psychologists were largely ignored by the legal profession for a long period of time Forensic Psych in Other Areas of the Criminal Justice System  America gradually caught up to Europe  Theories of crime being proposed at a rapid rate and were informing research conducted by north American psychologists o
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