‘Psychology’

Eyewitness Testimony and Memory Biases

Eyewitness Testimony – What Is It? If two individuals stand as witnesses of the same event, will their testimonies be the same? Will they tell and describe the event that transpired without any contradictions? When a person witnessed a crime, untoward incident, or other events that need legal support, a testimony from the eyewitness is necessary. The eyewitness will later appear before the court and tell the details of what he/she witnessed on that fateful day. The entire process may be more complicated than initially presumed. It involves describing the things that happened while the crime was in progress. It also includes everything that happened between the time the event or crime concluded and the time that the witness made an appearance in the courtroom. The policemen and lawyers may interview the eyewitness, who should describe the perpetrator to several people. The eyewitness is expected to identify the perpetrator and other things that the policemen and lawyers may require from him.  The Testimony of an Eyewitness Is Vital in Psychological Research – Why? The eyewitness must stand before the court and narrate what transpired on the day… Read More

Eyewitness Memory and Misidentification at Trial

When forensic psychology was being established in the late 1870s, among the top topics that got scrutinized was the examination of eyewitness memory. According to the website of History of Forensic Psychology, Albert Von Schrenk-Notzing was the first psychologist to play the role of expert witness during a court hearing in 1896. The case being tried was about a man who allegedly murdered three women. Based on his research on memory and the human mind’s inclination to suggestions of others, Von Schrenk-Notzing claimed that publicity before the trial had a significant effect on witness memory which made it difficult to differentiate what the press reported and what was actually witnessed. Cognitive Processes Documented research on eyewitness memory often falls within the more comprehensive cognitive processes category. The cognitive process pertains to the various means the human mind interprets the world surrounding it. This is done by perusing different mental skills such as perception, thinking, awareness, memory, judgment, and reasoning. Although we can only infer cognitive processes and we can’t see them directly, they can have practical associations from a legal perspective. If we admit that the process… Read More

What Does Forensic Psychology Make of the Jacksonville Landing Shooting?

Anyone who has ever played a video game or been in the same house with people who do play is aware that player participation can become tense. But video game competitions aren’t usually on the list for sporting events that are likely to erupt into violence. But on a Sunday afternoon, August 26th of 2018, a young man from Baltimore created a “first” in video gaming. He used a handgun to open fire on the active players, murdering two and injuring many more. The event was unique in a lot of ways. As is normal for events such as the EA Madden Championship series, the competition was being broadcast via Twitch. Twitch is a program that allows video games to be recorded and broadcast while being played. Another interesting aspect of this event is that local law enforcement sent warnings out over social media, especially Twitter for people to stay away from the area, and for those who had found shelter to stay put until official help could reach them. “Do not run out from hiding,” the notices read. Video game competitions have become big business. EA’s… Read More

Fishing in Heraclitus’ River: An Examination of Criminal Psychology and Rehabilitation

Who was Heraclitus and why would his river have anything to do with criminal psychology or rehabilitation? Here’s an examination of some ideas that revolve around Heraclitus’ most famous saying, advances in criminal psychology and rehabilitation. Heraclitus, a Greek Philosopher Heraclitus was a Greek philosopher who said that we could never wade in the same river twice. He was referring, on one level, to the way water washes past the land and that the droplets that are there one moment are gone away downstream the next. Advances in Criminology An article written for the journal, European Psychology, entitled Heraclitus’ River and Advances in Criminology by Alexander F. Schmidt and Ruth E. Mann, suggest that “advance” might be overstating the study of criminology. They contend that many of the practices currently in use were around during the 19th century. Some of them have, they add, have proven useful, while others that are still in use are less than efficacious in reducing crime or making productive citizens out of criminals. They lay out several types of crime but focus on sex offenders – a group that is often considered… Read More

What is Forensic Psychology?

It might be easier to define forensic psychology by starting out with what it is not. It is not forensic science. Forensic science is what is seen on television when detectives tweeze hairs out of a blood stain or lift fingerprints off a glass. It is not a Vulcan mind meld that allows the psychologist to peer into the depths of the human brain by analyzing behavior – although behavior certainly comes into it. Most of all, it is not the means by which long-buried secrets can be unearthed, but its results can be exciting. Education Requirements Although some colleges are now offering forensic psychology as a dual major, featuring psychology and law, the usual path is to gain an advanced degree in psychology, usually a PhD or PsyD. From that point, it is simply a matter of adding on legal training for the forensic part of forensic psychology. However, it should be noted, that some psychologists might participate in FP activities as part of their psychology position. For example, a school counselor might assist with determining which parent in a family is more suited to taking… Read More

Confessions, Forensic Psychology, and DNA Evidence

One of the tasks of a forensic psychologist is to interview an alleged perpetrator who has given a confession with an eye toward judging whether the person understands the gravity of having confessed and whether he or she understands what it is that has been confessed. It has been discovered that confessions are not always the last word in accuracy and that they can be extracted in a variety of ways. Once there is a confession, efforts to locate new or contradictory evidence concerning a case might be diminished or completely cease. A Famous Example For example, Juan Rivera confessed to the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl in Lake County, Illinois. However, the DNA evidence taken from the girl didn’t match Rivera’s. The prosecution theorized that she had had consensual sex with someone else and that Rivera had killed her in a fit of rage when he was unable to perform. Rivera was convicted. Fortunately, the story has a somewhat better ending than might be expected. Two weeks later the appellate court threw out the confession, and Rivera was not only exonerated, he was awarded… Read More

Forensic Psychologists Examine Why Criminals Post Crimes on Social Media

For those of us who live quiet, law-abiding lives, it seems difficult to imagine why anyone would incriminate themselves by posting videos of a crime in progress, or activity leading up to a crime. Yet an article in the Guardian reports that crime connected with social media have risen 780% over the last four years. The posts ranged from grooming, stalking, and preparatory statements to “selfies” of violent crimes in progress. Police are challenged with having to walk a fine line between allowing freedom of speech and getting ahead of real threats. Forensic Psychologist Look for Causes Forensic psychologists are examining this phenomenon and have come to one conclusion: the people who are posting videos of violent crimes against humans, and those who post videos of cruel behavior toward animals, are seeking attention. They want to be noticed for their actions. It isn’t new behavior. Jack the Ripper, for example, sent letters about his crimes all over London. The investigative tools now available were in their infancy, so despite publicity, he wasn’t caught. Why Study the Behavior How Stuff Works has an entry that delves into the… Read More

Application of Forensic Psychology to the Criminal Justice System

Forensic psychology has over the years played a key role in the legal field of criminal justice. To fully appreciate how this field of psychology affects criminal justice, it is important to first understand what it is and how it is applied in court cases. Definition of Forensic Psychology Forensic psychology is a unique combination of medical psychology and criminal justice. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines forensic psychology as the use of clinical specialties in the legal system. A forensic psychologist applies psychological principles, data, research, and theory to provide an explanation for criminal acts and behavior. The practice helps to determine whether an accused person should be convicted or pardoned for his or her actions. Chapter 490 of Florida statutes, aptly titled Psychological Services, provides a basis for the application of forensic psychology in the criminal justice system in an increasingly complex society where emotional survival plays a key role in human behavior. How is it Different From Clinical Evaluation? Forensic psychology and clinical assessment follow the same the same procedures of evaluation but differ in the way each field is practiced. A person who… Read More

Cultural Influence On Crime

One can take many different stances when asked to determine the causes of criminal activity. One area of research that has been gaining popularity views crime as a product of the culture or subculture to which one belongs, rather than strictly blaming it on individual differences. In other words, enculturation plays an important role in the development of criminal behavior; this argument is supported by recent research that will be further discussed, and the disparity in rates of crime between different cultures and subcultures. The purpose of this post is to examine any relevant statistics regarding the differences in violent and nonviolent criminal activity within and between cultures, and to discuss the various theories that have been proposed to explain the reason for imbalance in rates of crime around the world. Variations between the type of crime committed, as well as how it is committed will also be noted as it relates to the topic. Beginning with an analysis of a particular subculture within the United States, which will then lead to cross-national comparisons, the goal of this article is to illustrate how crime is a complicated… Read More

Rational Choice as a Theory of Crime

Rational choice is a prominent theoretical model in many fields of research, though many criminologists continue to doubt its applicability as a general theory of crime. Much of this skepticism can be attributed to the over-simplification of the model, and the methodologies utilized when testing it in research. Rational choice theory is conceptually broader than many researchers believe it to be, and those who explore it often leave out important variables in their testing. Numerous studies have been conducted, the findings of which have legitimized rational choice as a general theory of crime. The ability to apply rational choice theory not only to instrumental criminal acts, but also to those crimes in which there is no apparent monetary motive, has been supported through research. The goal of this article is to thoroughly explain Gary Becker’s original model of rational choice theory and to take a closer look at how it is currently utilized today in criminological research. In addition to highlighting the positive aspects of the model, its shortcomings will also be explained. Criminology is the scientific study of crime and its origins. Criminologists seek to answer… Read More