‘Psychology’

Eyewitness Testimony | Is Identification Reliable?

Eyewitness testimony | Kenneth Padowitz, P.A.

Eyewitness Testimony : Identification One of the main goals for law enforcement is to solve crimes; police strive to “clear” these crimes. They have a much higher chances of clearing the crime if the offender is caught within a few minutes, or an eyewitness provides specific information that is considered relevant to the case. Researchers have shown that if neither of these are available to police, there is less than a 10% chance that the crime will be solved, or “cleared”. This is the first of many future posts which will be exploring the problems with allowing eyewitness identification testimony into evidence during a criminal trial. Eyewitness testimony that incriminates the defendant is arguably one of the most valuable and influential pieces of evidence that the prosecution can attain, aside from a confession. Even when there is a seemingly large amount of evidence favoring the defendant’s claim of innocence, there have been cases where the individual is convicted solely based on the testimony. In the field of psychology, it has been concluded that errors in eyewitness testimony are the leading cause of wrongful convictions. In 2000, it was estimated that… Read More

Capgras Syndrome | Is Delusion a Defense?

Capgras Syndrome | Psychology of Law and Criminal Behavior

 Capgras Syndrome Capgras syndrome is a delusional disorder, which results in those afflicted believing an impostor has replaced someone or something close to them. Capgras syndrome (CS) is one of four variations of delusional misidentification syndrome, a group of disorders in which the identity of someone or something close to the patient is believed to have changed. Capgras syndrome, the focus of this post, will be explored in greater detail in terms what it may be like to live with this condition and will mention any similar disorders as they relate to the discussion of the topic. The purpose of this is to explore the cognitive theories that have been devised to explain why delusional disorders such as Capgras develop, and how they are maintained, including: The Impostor and Brain Damage hypotheses, both one-stage models, along with different variations of the two-stage model, ending with the Interactionist model. Delusional misidentification syndrome consists of a group of delusional disorders all involving dysfunctional affective responses to external stimuli. Researchers are able to measure covert, or unconscious, familiarity through skin conductance response (SCR) tests. These disorders are worth mentioning because… Read More

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder | Criminal Behavior

Bipolar Disorder: The Highs and the Lows Bipolar disorder (BD) is a mental illness affecting people from different areas all over the world, in which a person experiences what many would call extreme mood fluctuations often for no apparent reason. Ranked seventh on the list of non-fatal illnesses, it is considered one of the most costly disorders to affect humans. This post will explore topics such as: the differences between BD I, BD II, and other similar mental illnesses such as borderline personality disorder and cyclothymic disorder, what it is like to live with this illness, the structural differences of an afflicted brain, the benefits of treatment, and the prognosis of the disorder. People with BD tend to change moods more rapidly than someone in the general population, many times without warning. Many psychiatrists will refer to this as a patient’s lability. This cycling of “highs” and “lows” is a trademark symptom of someone with BD, but does not automatically mean someone meets the diagnostic criteria. Many times this might not be very noticeable; depending on the person, these moods may last for days, or even months. Both… Read More

Psychopathy & Altruism | Opposite Ends of the Spectrum

Psychopathy | Altruism | Legal system

Biological Basis of Psychopathy and Altruism Origins of Social and Antisocial Behavior Psychopathy is a personality disorder believed to be affecting 1-2% of the world’s population. Those afflicted have certain personality characteristics: Shallow emotions, superficial charm, impulsiveness, and lacking any empathy or remorse, often leading to antisocial behaviors and criminal activity. The general consensus among psychologists is that most people fall towards the center of a continuum of personality traits, with the extreme cases on opposite ends. Considering one extreme to be those psychopathic traits, the other extreme, some may argue, would consist of traits relating to an altruist, someone with a sincere, unselfish concern for others. This post will review the methods, and compare the findings of two studies: “The Neural Signatures of Distinct Psychopathic Traits”, which explores the relationship of brain structure and function with self-reported psychopathic traits, as well as “Neural and Cognitive Characteristics of Extraordinary Altruists”, which explores the structural and functional differences of the typical brain to that of extraordinary altruists, defined in the study as: An altruistic kidney donor who volunteered to donate a kidney to a stranger. Researchers Carre, Hyde, Neumann,… Read More

Risk Factors for Criminal Behavior | Peer Rejection

Peer Rejection | Risk Factors for the Development of Adult Criminal Behavior | Antisocial

Peer Rejection It has been continually shown over the years by developmental psychologists that a child’s peer relationships are essential in proper emotional and social development of an individual. Around the time of puberty, these adolescents begin to become more susceptible to the influence of their friends, and less susceptible to the influence of family or parents. A strong predictor of teenage alcohol or drug abuse is whom children choose to become friends with; this relationship has been quite obvious for some time now. Like poverty living conditions, the relationship between peer rejection and criminal behavior is less obvious than for substance abuse, but nonetheless does exist. Starting in early childhood around the elementary school years, being accepted by peers is crucial in the normal development of a child. Healthy psychological and social development requires being exposed to various social situations that a peer group can provide. Researchers have shown a significant link between rejection in the early years of first grade and antisocial-type behaviors in fourth grade. Research went further to show that individuals who felt they were rejected for two to three years had a 50%… Read More

Risk Factors for Criminal Behavior | Poverty

Risk Factors for Criminal Behavior : Poverty

Criminal Behavior Risk Factors: Early Warning Signs Childhood Risk Factors Antisocial behaviors in adults can be traced back to their origins in their childhood. Looking back at the childhood years of criminals, and especially career criminals, for the most part there will be warning signs indicating they may be heading in the wrong direction. There are many theories as to what the risk factors for criminal behavior are in the field of psychological criminology, which is the science of behavior and mental processes of those individuals who commit crimes; many of them agree that the roots of adult criminal offenders can be traced back to their early and late childhood years. Throughout each stage of an individual’s developmental pathway, there will be various risk factors that may contribute to the development of a criminal mindset. What Are Some Examples of Childhood Risk Factors? Everyone may be exposed to certain risk factors throughout their life; most experts in the field believe that the more risk factors someone experiences throughout their developmental years (early/middle childhood, teen), the higher the chance that they will participate in criminal or antisocial behavior in… Read More

The Insanity Defense

Insanity Defense | A legal concept

Legally Insane: The Insanity Defense The insanity defense is one of the least successful defenses in a criminal defense case. The determination of the suspect’s mental state at the time of the criminal offense, as well as at the time of trial can be a challenging task; the defense actually has the burden of proof in Federal cases, as well as most State charges, in showing the defendant to be insane. It is important to note that insanity is actually a legal term, not a psychological one. There are times when the suspect may be psychotic but still don’t fit the legal criteria of insane. The legal definition of insanity also varies, depending on which jurisdiction the charge originates. Legal tradition in the United States holds that if an individual is not aware of what they are doing or unaware of the meaning of their behavior, they should not be held criminally responsible. Mens rea is vital to charge and convict someone of a crime. According to the opinion in Durham v. United States, determining if someone is guilty and then punishing should only occur if the… Read More

Confessions: Police Interrogation

police interrogation tactics : False confession

Confessions: Police interrogation A confession is probably the most damaging kind of evidence that you can give to the police, and will surely be presented in court in front of a jury. It is almost as bad as blowing into the Breathalyzer when you know you’ve had more than two drinks.  The way in which a confession is obtained is important in determining whether or not it is legitimate, and if it should even be allowed into evidence in court. With the goal of getting a confession, police are tempted to use whatever tricks they have up their sleeves, whether it be through intimidation or manipulation, etc. These tactics taught in police training often times do work in getting true confessions, but along with those comes the price of many more false confessions. A good example of this is the well known case of the “Central Park Jogger” in 1989; five individuals falsely confessed to rape but were later exonerated in 2002 when the real rapist admitted to the crime. They recently received a $40 million settlement from New York City for their improper conviction and time served. What… Read More

Conflict Between Two Disciplines : Psychology and Law

Conflict: Psychology and Law | Criminal behavior

Conflict Between Two Disciplines Psychology And Law Out of the need to resolve disagreements, laws are created and implemented by people. For the most part, laws can be seen as a reflection of the values of the majority in a society. Laws are created, changed, or thrown away because as time passes, the values of a society also change. What is acceptable today may be unacceptable in the future; as values change, so do the laws governing the people. For example, spousal rape, which is when a married man forces his wife to have sex even if she did not want to, was largely ignored by society. Time passed, values changed, and as of today every state in the U.S. has implemented laws protecting women from this behavior. You could probe the minds of an attorney, a law enforcement officer, a psychologist, and a judge, about how they know something is true or valid, and what would be needed to come to that conclusion, and they would all give different answers; neither are necessarily incorrect, but chances are based on their own perspective, they will all give you… Read More

The Context of the Crime | The Psychology of Criminal Behavior

Psychology of the criminal mind

The Context of the Crime Psychology of Criminal Behavior Instead of strictly exploring legal topics like most law blogs, regurgitating much of the same legal jargon and Appeal Court decisions, this site will focus on the criminal justice system from a different perspective. The purpose of this blog will be to explore topics in the area of forensic psychology, the processes of the legal system, specifically the criminal justice system, with the knowledge of the psychological concepts and findings in mind; in other words, the psychology of criminal behavior. This post will focus on why the context matters when dealing with a criminal charge. Knowing the psychology of the criminal mind and the psychological processes that contribute to a criminal offense is just as important, if not more important, than the written laws, or the interpretation of them. Adequately trying a case, whether in the perspective of the state or federal prosecutor, or the criminal defense attorney, requires at least some ability to step into the suspect’s shoes in order to convince the jury and to reach the sought after verdict. Keep in mind throughout this discussion… Read More