in the Courtroom
new link as of February 1, 2022
broken links here
Activities and Exercises
Eyewitness testimony - “Here are some resources for teaching the effect of post-event information on eyewitness testimony.”
Recreating a classic Loftus study on eyewitness testimony - Michael Britt creates all kinds of cool digital applications for psychology. The first link takes you to a re-creation of a Loftus study that your students can participate in. If you would like to collect data on it just from your own class, Michael sent me this description of the process: “if any instructor uses the link I sent to you then all of his/her students who go through the activity will add their responses will be added to everyone else. A prof would have to email me and ask for the "shareable link” (google’s term). When I send that link to them they would have the option of adding the folder with the activity files to their google drive. Then they can edit the google spreadsheet to delete all the data collected so far. They would then share just the google site link inside this new folder with their students. That’s how they would collect data only from their students.” If you have further questions about how to make that work feel free to email Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Myth: Eyewitness testimony is the best kind of evidence” - a lesson plan from APS with many accompanying resources
Mock jury scenario - an online interactive scenario
New eyewitness recommendations from the Department of Justice - good example of applying psychological research to the real world
teenage brain - another set of ideas to discuss a Current
Directions in Psychological Science article from David
Myers and Nathan DeWall [added 8/20/13]
the dynamics of criminal jury trials - an in-class activity
and a field experience in a courtroom [added
mock crime and trial - Here's
the poster presented by Kimberly MacLin and Dwight Peterson
at the APS_STP Teaching Institute on "a timeline approach
for teaching Psychology and Law using a mock crime and trail."
is the course web page describing the project. [added
activities and other resources - Some of you may have
seen this resource found at the American Psychology-Law
Society website. It describes a number of law related activities,
demonstration materials, Internet resources and other teaching
materials. [added 1/1/07]
"How psychology was misused in teen's murder case" (53:00) - a podcast from NPR's Hidden Brain
A conversation with Elizabeth Loftus (56:26)
on Trial with Alan Alda - This is a series from PBS. The
entire first episode, "Brains on trial: Deciding punishment,"
is available for viewing at the above link. "Brains on Trial with
Alan Alda takes a fictitious crime a convenience store robbery
that goes horribly wrong and builds from it a gripping courtroom
drama. As the trial unfolds it takes us into the brains of the major
participants defendant, witnesses, jurors, judge while
Alan Alda visits the laboratories of some dozen neuroscientists exploring
how brains work when they become entangled with the law. The research
he discovers poses the controversial question: How does our rapidly
expanding ability to peer into peoples minds and decode their
thoughts and feelings affect trials like the one we are watching in
the future? And should it?"
eyewitnesses get it wrong" - (18:23)
A TED talk from Scott Fraser [added
mistakes in death penalty cases - (53:40) Watch the entire program on the
case of "Cameron Todd Willingham, put to death for the arson-murder
of his three little girls." [added
convictions - (17:29) Very interesting TED talk in which a photographer
presents images of and discusses cases of men who were wrongly convicted
of terrible crimes primarily on faulty eyewitness testimony. The section
of her talk on this topic begins about 11:30 into the presentation.
of an entire criminal case - (1:40:00)
"The shooting of big man: Anatomy of a criminal case" is now available
for viewing online. The documentary first shown on ABC News quite a few
years ago follows a single case from beginning to end. [added
Exoneration case reports - This link takes you to Amy Posey's Psychology and Law syllabus. Scroll down and you will find this interesting assignment using the National Registry of Exonerations website.
of jury decision-making in popular culture
- In her Social Psychology in the Courtroom course, Kristi Costabile
assigns her students to "choose a film or TV show focused on
the courtroom and analyze whether the theories and strategies discussed
in class are represented accurately in the film." Click on the
"details" link at the bottom of the page to see the full
Pretrial publicity assignment - In her Psychology and Law course, Amy Posey ask her students to imagine they are a team of trial consultants who have been hired to "conduct research that will determine whether there is sufficient local bias against their client to warrant the change of venue."
Police interrogation - This article takes you through historical methods of interrogation up to the newer ones proposed or used now.
The Central Park Jogger case - a brief review of the case and the interrogation techniques used to draw the false confessions
False confessions, lie detection, and mental illness - This article reviews some research presented at the APS convention.
You can be led to falsely believe you committed a crime - Yes, I mean you. "New research provides lab-based evidence for this phenomenon, showing that innocent adult participants can be convinced, over the course of a few hours, that they had perpetrated crimes as serious as assault with a weapon in their teenage years. The research, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, indicates that the participants came to internalize the stories they were told, providing rich and detailed descriptions of events that never actually took place." [added 8/6/15]
"Rapport-building interrogation more effective than torture" - I tried to tell my mom that.... Just kidding, mom! [added 8/4/15]
The science of interrogation - [added 8/4/15]
Videotaping interrogations - Blog entry reviews some recent research and discussion of the pros and cons of such videotaping. [added 8/4/15]
A case of false confession in Iceland - "The BBC News site has a special multimedia feature on a case of false confession to murder that has been troubling Iceland from the 1970s and has recently erupted again." [added 8/4/15]
truth of two-person interrogation - interesting research on
a two-person (one interviews while the other takes notes) interrogation
confessions - This brief article reviews some research on
false confessions. [added
confessions and eyewitness misidentifications -
do people confess to crimes they didn't commit? - This article
provides a good overview of this question. [added
confessions - good blog entry about some of the problems with
ominous power of confession" - This blog entry discusses
an article which describes "125 proven cases of wrongful
conviction in the US justice system where the accused made a false
psychology and power of false confessions" - a very good
article in the APS Observer [added 1/19/10]
and false confessions - This interesting study "compares
two types of interrogation technique and found that it is so-called
'minimising' questions and remarks - those that downplay the seriousness
of the offence, and which blame other people or circumstances
- that are the most likely to lead to a false confession."
- an article from Psychology Today [added
do people confess to crimes they did not commit? And what can
be done to stop it?" - a brief article by Elaine Cassel [added
of pre-trial media on jurors - [added 2/19/14]
race can influence jury selection - as illustrated in the
George Zimmerman murder trial [added 8/20/13]
racial discrimnation in jury selection" - a 2010 report
from the Equal Justice Initiative [added
juries - Since a growing number of people oppose the death
penalty, and those who oppose it are often kicked off juries considering
it, are such juries unfair to the defendents? [added
versus believing - This blog entry describes some interesting
research that compared what people wish for versus what they believe.
"The study recruited subjects who believed that child home
care was superior to day care. Half of the subject were conflicted
about the issue and indicated that they intended to use day care
for their children. The subjects were motivated to believe that
day care was as good as home care. The un-conflicted group indicated
that they intended to use only home care. The subjects were given
two fictional studies. Half the subjects were led to believe study
1 favored day care and study 2 home care; the other half of the
subjects were led to believe the opposite for studies 1 and 2.
After reading the studies, the subjects evaluated which of the
two studies provided more valid conclusions, listed the strengths
and weaknesses and evaluated the persuasiveness of each study.
The subjects’ last task was to evaluate which form of childcare
would have a better effect on child development. The results of
the study dramatically showed subjects were more persuaded by
scientific evidence that confirmed what they wished to be true
than what they initially believed to be true." [added
psychology of voir dire - a good, detailed article
on the topic [added
and peremptory challenges - "Rather than denying the
existence of stereotyping or asking people to continually suppress
a basic human instinct, there is a better way to help reduce demographic
profiling in forbidden areas. The simple answer is to increase
the time for voir dire and utilize jury questionnaires."
salience and juries - This blog entry briefly describes some
research from Sam Sommers and points to an article of his in which
he points to
some misconceptions in our understanding of race bias and juries.
initial preferences - This blog entry summarizes the research
by recommending "don't start group discussions by sharing
initial preferences." Why, what happens? Nope, not going
to tell you. You have to go read it. [added
biases in memory of judges and juries - "In this article,
I claim that judges and jurors unknowingly misremember case facts
in racially biased ways. Drawing upon studies from implicit social
cognition, human memory research, and legal decisionmaking, I
argue that implicit racial biases affect the way judges and jurors
encode, store, and recall relevant case facts." [added
fascinating case of possible juror bias - Sam Sommers, in
his always interesting blog, Science
of Small Talk, relates a fascinating tale: "In November
of 2006, a Cape Cod jury returned a guilty verdict in the murder
trial of Christopher McCowen. This was supposed to be the final
chapter in a murder drama that had captured attention regionally
and nationally. But within days of the verdict, three different
jurors came forward with concerns about the jury's verdict as
well as the process by which it was reached. These concerns would
serve as the impetus for an extraordinarily rare legal hearing
in which the jurors from the case were called back to the courthouse
more than one year after the verdict. One-by-one, they would take
the stand and answer questions about what had transpired in the
jury room. Specifically, the hearing examined whether particular
jurors had made racially biased statements during deliberations,
and, if they had, whether such statements had influenced the trial's
At the end of the above blog entry click on "To be continued"
to .... continue. Currently, there are three installments. Here
is the fourth and final segment. As you will read, Sam also appeared
in court in this case as an expert witness. I love the first question
he was asked as he describes it: "First question from Mr.
O'Keefe during my cross-examination: "Doctor, do you mind
if I ask you how old you are?" My reply: "Sure, as long
as I can ask you the same question in return." That relates
to my first question for Sam: Did you wear the glasses in court
(as opposed to going sans glasses in your blog photo) to appear
younger, more authoritative, or both?
Lots of possible uses for this well-told story in your course.
variety of articles - Read a number of good articles on topics
such as obstacles to jury diversity and ethical issues in racial
profiling from the online magazine Jury Expert, including
one from Sam Sommers. [added
poll on juries and jury duty - This blogger addresses this
new survey through the "lens of race." [added
attitudes and biases in sexual assault cases" - a report
from the Australian Institute of Criminology [added
coming to Japan - I didn't know Japan didn't have juries.
They will starting in 2009 according to this fascinating story,
and they are going through some very interesting cultural adjustments.
persuade jurors...confuse them?" - "If you want
to persuade jurors, you must be clear, right? Maybe not. New research
shows that a sales pitch is more persuasive when it confuses the
customer." [added 11/21/07]
juror information - state-by-state links to information given
to jurors in each state and information about jurors in some cases
-- lots of interesting material [added 11/10/07]
UFO jurors - Interesting essay, "On better jury selection:
Spotting UFO jurors before they enter the jury room," describes
what was learned from "initially silent prospective jurors"
and how they learned it. [added
Lying and Lie Detection
“Under time pressure, people tell us what we want to hear”
Lie detection approach foiled by made-up alibi - Using the idea that lying is more mentally demanding than telling the truth, techniques using speed of response are used to detect lying. This research suggests that that technique can be beaten.
Liars, lies, and lying - summary of a few studies
How to tell if someone is lying - some suggestions from experts
An update on lying and lying research
Do you need to see someone's whole face to detect deception? - Apparently not. In fact, you might be more accurate if you can just see a person's eyes.
"Response times do not imply accurate unconscious lie detection" - A recent study using IAT techniques suggested our unconscious mind could detect lying when our conscious mind could not. A reanalysis of the data brings this conclusion into question.
False confessions, lie detection, and mental illness - This article reviews some research presented at the APS convention.
The power of self-deception - When participants were "accidentally" given the answers on a first test, they predicted they would do better than a control group predicted for its performance on a second test even though no answers were available this time around. [added 8/6/15]
P300s: The new lie-detection signal? - Are we getting close to lie detection through reading people's brainwaves? [added 8/4/15]
"Women trust more than men after a deception" - and some other related findings [added 8/4/15]
Everyday liars and prolific liars - "As the researchers say, 'it is normal for people to tell a few lies, and many lies are minor transgressions or simply efforts to avoid being hurtful'. The prolific liar (whether in the US or the UK) operates outside the norms for lying and thus needs to be studied separately." Read about how they distinguish the two, and how they are different. [added 8/4/15]
The real secret to detecting lies - And it's not microexpressions [added 8/4/15]
is it so hard to detect lying? - [added
artful dodging - Can you tell when someone is dodging a question,
in the courtroom or elsewhere? This interesting article applies
inattentional blindness research to explain why we sometimes don't
recognize the dodge. [added
detection through drawings - Very cool study -- "Aldert
Vrij's new study involved 31 police and military participants going
on a mock mission to pick up a package from another agent before
delivering it somewhere else. Afterwards the participants answered
questions about the mission. Crucially, they were also asked to
draw the scene of the package pick-up. Half the participants acted
as truth-tellers, the others played the part of liars. Vrij's team
reasoned that clever liars would visualise a location they'd been
to, other than where the exchange took place, and draw that. They
further reasoned that this would mean they'd forget to include the
agent who participated in the exchange. This thinking proved shrewd:
liars indeed tended not to draw the agent, whereas truth-tellers
did. In fact, 80 per cent of truth tellers and 87 per cent of liars
could be correctly classified on the basis of this factor alone." [added
Sleep did not improve eyewitness memory accuracy
Creating accurate police sketches from eyewitness testimony - One condition in these studies, the one that comes closest to what happens in the real world, asked participants for their testimony two days after witnessing an incident, and with a 30-minute delay between giving the testimony and starting a sketch. Those delays led to the least accurate likenesses.
Eyewitness memory - a few good articles on the topic from APS
Resolving the he said/she said dilemma - In reference to the recent U.S. Supreme Court nomination hearing, the author reflects on how recent findings could help determine which witness is more credible. In this case, the researchers found that picking up on “effort cues,” such as how long the witness took to provide a description of a suspect, or whether the witness included a lot of filler words in their description, could help someone determine the accuracy of the eyewitness. Generally, the more effort the witness appeared to exhibit in describing what they saw the more accurate they turned out to be.
The category cluster recall technique - to improve eyewitness recall – this research finds it superior to free recall.
How easy is it to implant false memories of committing a crime?
Guilt by association: Eyewitness testimony - "Does presenting a picture along with a question like 'is this the person who did it?' create an association between those two things that could then cause an eyewitness to later falsely remember seeing that person doing that action?"
"Eyewitness confidence can predict accuracy of identifications"
"Face-matching is harder than we realised" - It is not easy to compare a person's live face and a picture of that person. Ask an eyewitness or a passport checker.
Apparently, London's Metropolitan Police super-recognizers are just that - A while back I mentioned an article about how the Metropolitan Police were now using detectives who were identified as being quite good at identifying faces from photographs (super-recognizers). This new article describes research published in Applied Cognitive Psychology which found they were the real deal.
"The detectives who never forget a face" - Fascinating article about a special unit of "super-recognizers" in the London police force
Easy to implant false memories? No, says new review
The perils of eyewitness identification - An attorney discusses how psychological knowledge about the frailty of human memory is often not allowed into the courtroom through expert witnesses. Here and here are replies by other attorneys. [added 8/4/15]
limits our ability to discriminate faces and speech"
- Which researchers suggest can be another source of fallibility
in eyewitness testimony [added 2/19/14]
officers policing Europe's biggest party" - "But
more recently, it was discovered that a tiny minority of people
are super recognisers with exceptional face
recognition abilities meaning they can pick out a previously
identified face from huge numbers of possibilities." [added
forensic psychology to teach about eyewitness memory and lie detection
- This excellent article from the Teaching of Psychology
updates what we know about these topics. [added
eyewitnesses are more reliable than expected" - Du.. Wait...
what?? [added 8/20/13]
memory of events is distorted within seconds" - Blog
entry describes some clever studies illustrating how quickly we
modify our memories of events. [added
years later, Supreme Court will revisit eyewitness IDs"
- an article from The New York Times [added
testimony -- a case - Once again, Sam Sommers provides us
with a fascinating essay detailing his personal involvement in
a trial as an expert witness on eyewitness testimony. The above
link is to Part 1 of the saga; here
is a link to Part 2; here
is a link to the third and final segment. [added
report on eyewitness identification - "Now, a cutting-edge
report commissioned by the Supreme Court of New Jersey recommends
major changes to bring the courts into alignment with the current
state of the science on eyewitness testimony." [added
accuracy - I didn't know that Dan Simon of the inattentional
blindness gorilla fame has a blog. But he does. I'm sure you are
just as fascinated as I am. But anyway, this blog entry is about
a staged television crime and the accuracy of their eyewitnesses.
"certain": The case of Donald Cotton - I remember
the case of Donald Cotton who was falsely accused of rape by a
woman who was "100% sure." Sam Sommers now tells us
about how the two of them have teamed up on a book, Picking
Cotton, about the whole experience. [added
waves distinguish false memories from real ones - [added
doctrinal paradox - What is it? For example, "a jury
might acquit or convict someone while knowing their decision doesn't
conform to the letter of the law." This blog provides a good
summary of a research article investigating it. [added
and career of Elizabeth Loftus - a good report from the 2007
APS convention based on an interview with Elizabeth Loftus [added
advances in false memory research" - a good report from
the 2007 APS convention [added
with face-composite systems - "Thousands of police departments
use face composite software to help create a picture of crime
suspects. You've probably seen one of the systems in use on TV:
witnesses build a picture of the suspect by choosing each individual
facial feature -- hair, eyes, nose, and so on. But what happens
when the suspect is captured and the witness is asked to identify
the real perpetrator in a lineup? Does the witness remember the
actual face they saw at the crime scene, or the composite face
created at the police station? A recent study has found that the
process of creating a face composite can have a dramatic impact
on the memory of a real face." Here
is the original research article. [added 12/31/06]
Texas execute an innocent man?" - See the role eyewitness
testimony played in the conviction. [added
Identity - The article includes a video activity in which
you get a chance to see if you can identify the right person in
a lineup. [added
“DNA evidence versus cognitive bias” - fascinating account of how law enforcement often pursued the wrong suspect despite advances in DNA evidence
DNA evidence, and the CSI effect - [added 7/17/09]
Evidence - "Convicted by Juries, Exonerated by Science:
Case Studies in the Use of DNA Evidence to Establish Innocence
After Trial" (1996) - report from the Dept. of Justice
Easy - "DNA Testing: An Introduction For Non-Scientists:
An Illustrated Explanation" by Donald Riley, (1998), from
Scientific Testimony, an online journal
Policing and law enforcement
"How psychology was misused in teen's murder case"
Too much junk science gets through - An excellent report in Psychological Science in the Public Interest reviews considerable evidence that finds that only about 40% of the 364 psychological assessment tools permitted in the courtroom have generally favorable reviews, and, despite this, very few challenges are ever put forward against the use of these tools. “Challenges to the most scientifically suspect tools are almost nonexistent.” Here is a link to the research article.
Dispel myths through redirecting - The author here, after discussing some recent research on overcoming false beliefs, suggests that one way to redirect a jury away from the false belief is to repeat the accurate information again and again. And again.
Two things that make us distrust experts - a summary of two studies that are then applied to the courtroom
"Killings of Blacks by Whites are more likely to be ruled 'justifiable'" - The study that looked at over 400,000 murders that did not include police shootings.
"Preventing police misconduct" - Here is a good article in the APA Monitor describing the application of social psychological research to the New Orleans police force. This link is to an interview of someone who is similarly applying social psych research to help the "Pittsburgh police confront their racial biases." It is a testament to these two men that they can manage their emotions well enough to work on such challenging problems. (I'm trying to get in on the above twitter thread.)
Best expert witness: Nerdy or attractive? - Interesting research found across a few studies that "when judging whether a researcher does 'good science,' people again preferred scientists who look competent and moral, but also favored less sociable and more physically unattractive individuals."
Odds & ends - This blog entry reports on several interesting findings about jurors, alibis, police uniforms, and lie detection.
"Policing in Black & White" - An article from the APA Monitor: "Police departments are eager for ways to reduce racial disparities -- and psychological research is beginning to find answers."
Contaminated forensic evidence is unreliable
"Fingerprint matching is biased by the assessor's prejudices"
Black law associates viewed as less competent - interesting study in which partners judged Black associates' writing more harshly than that of White associates
"Your face can get you killed" - This blog entry describes research that found that decreased ratings of trustworthiness for convicts with wider faces predicted greater likelihood of receiving death sentences versus life sentences.
Genetic defense could backfire - "Genetic explanations for violent crime may encourage jurors to support an insanity defense, but jurors may also believe the defendant is a persistent threat who will commit more crimes in the future, according to new research published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology."
Crime and the adolescent brain - A good article in the APS Observer [added 8/6/15]
Murderers of white females most harshly punished - [added 8/4/15]
Do psych expert witnesses know how memory works?
- "Annika Melinder and Svein Magnussen surveyed 858 psychologists and 78 psychiatrists about their understanding of memory. This was tested through the participants' agreement or not with 12 statements about memory function. Melinder and Magnussen were particularly interested in whether the 117 psychologists and psychiatrists in their sample who act as expert witnesses in court would perform better on the survey than those who don't. The participants who don't act as expert witnesses scored an average of 6.49 on the survey; the expert witnesses in the sample did no better, scoring an average of 6.68." [added 8/4/15]
The influence of "scientese" - Just include a graph, a formula, or other scientific-looking/sounding stuff in your presentation and you are more likely to persuade. [added 8/4/15]
"Just 60 seconds of combat impairs memory"
- "Researchers, led by Dr Lorraine Hope of the University of Portsmouth, found that less than 60 seconds of all-out exertion, as might happen when an officer is forced to chase-down a fleeing suspect or engage in a physical battle with a resistant criminal, can seriously impair their ability to remember details of the incident – or even identify the person who was involved. Even officers in top condition are not immune to the rapid drain of physical prowess and cognitive faculties resulting from sustained hand-to-hand combat." [added 8/4/15]
mug shot goes viral - "Jeremy Meeks is a convicted felon,
an alleged gang member and is currently being held in jail on more
felony weapons charges. Bail has been set at $1,000,000. Thats
not a typical biography for an internet celebrity. Yet, Meeks has
a Facebook page with over 120,000 fans. His mother started a fundraising
page thats attracted 145 donations and over $2500 in one day.
And the hashtag #FreeJeremyMeeks is trending on Twitter. The positive
feelings are all related to his handsome mug shot, which
was posted by the Stockton Police Department on Facebook this week,
and quickly became a sensation. It is a stunning example of how the
American criminal justice system in which defendants have the
right to be judged by a jury of their peers is often influenced
by superficial attributes." [added 2/12/15]
sexual violence: Are the experts biased?" - Duh. Very interesting
test of 100 experienced, practicing forensic experts. You could
have predicted the results, right? [added 8/20/13]
disorder lead to more crime? Is it always bad? - Yes and no. [added 8/20/13]
threat in criminal investigations" - "The author reviewed
studies suggesting that police are more likely to misclassify Black
suspects than White suspects as guilty. Once this occurs, confirmation
bias may lead police to seek information that validates their presumption
of guilt, such as focusing on defensive behavior that stems from
stereotype threat. The literature also indicated that once a suspect
is classified as guilty, police are more likely to use coercive
methods, and that the desire to escape from these coercive methods
may lead to false confessions." [added
in the courtroom - Good APS Observer article on the
range of psychological research that is having an effect on what
goes on in the legal system [added
by numbers - essay reviewing research on how we like numbers
but are often fooled by them [added
myths impede justice - Blog entry covering an international
conference on sexual violence discusses certain myths that block
the justice system from getting more convictions and what to do
about it. The blog entry also contains a public service video from
New Zealand pushing "the idea that everyone is responsibility
for the safety of those around them." [added
barriers to economic inclusion for women - "Women, Business
and the Law 2012: Removing Barriers to Economic Inclusion finds
that while 36 economies reduced legal differences between men and
women, 103 out of 141 economies studied still impose legal differences
on the basis of gender in at least one of the report’s key
indicators. The report also identifies 41 law and regulatory reforms
enacted between June 2009 and March 2011 that could enhance women’s
economic opportunities." [added
should be given death penalty because Blacks are more dangerous - blog entry about a Texas death penalty case and the role of psychologists
in the sentencing [added 1/29/12]
it's never about race - Sam Sommers follows up on an earlier
blog entry on this topic by addressing the execution of Troy Davis
in Georgia, USA. [added
grant paroles far more after a bite to eat - Interesting study
reviewing 1,112 parole board hearings in Israeli prisons -- the
differences are dramatic. Right after a lunch break or a snack break
potential parolees were much more likely to be granted parole than
those considered right before a break. Here is another blog entry about the study. [added 8/21/11]
value of metaphors - Interesting study looked at how metaphors
can shape jurors' interpretations and preferences. [added
competent are the competency evaluators?" - The research
used the court system in the state of Hawaii to look at how often
psychologists/psychiatrists agree with each other when evaluating
the competency of a defendant to stand trial. "Examining 729
reports authored by 35 evaluators, they found that all three evaluators
agreed in just under three out of four -- or 71 percent -- of initial
competency referrals. Agreement was a bit lower -- 61 percent --
in cases where defendants were being reevaluated after undergoing
competency restoration treatment." [added
for our prior intentions is unreliable - "Nearly six hundred
undergrads answered open-ended questions about why they'd purchased,
downloaded or copied their most recently acquired album (the vast
majority had acquired one within the last two weeks), and then they
provided the same information again six months to a year later.
The participants' answers fell into five main categories: because
they liked the artist, liked the music, liked a specific song or
songs, someone had recommended the album, or they needed the album
for a specific purpose. The key finding was that only one in five
participants gave a consistent reason or reasons at both time points....Unsurprisingly
perhaps, participants who recalled more reasons at the first time
point tended to be more prone to forgetting reasons when quizzed
again later. This was also true of participants who reported liking
their CD more, perhaps because they'd felt less need to dwell on
their motives at the time they acquired the album. A subset of 82
of the participants also gave their reasons at a third time point,
approximately six months to a year after the second time of questioning.
Although still evident, changes in memory between the second and
third time points were far reduced compared with between the first
and second time points. This is important for real-life legal situations
because consistency of answers across later interviews could be
interpreted as a sign of memory reliability. 'It appears critical
to have an accurate and complete record of the very first interview
given by a witness,' the researchers said." [added
Arizona shooting - This blog entry does a nice job of examining
some of the analysis and solutions that followed the shootings in
Arizona, and some of the myths surrounding events like this one. [added
I remove my tattoos first? - Sam Sommers has another good blog
entry about a case "describing a criminal defendant in Florida
whose attorney successfully petitioned the court to pay for a cosmetologist
to help him cover up his swastika tattoos with makeup before trial
each morning." [added
must cheer for your rapist - Did you hear about this case? A
girl was kicked off her high school cheerleading squad because she
refused to cheer for her alleged rapist. [added
race still central to death penalty" - "The odds of
getting a death sentence for killing a white person is about three
times higher than for killing an African American with the race
of the defendant virtually irrelevant, according to a new study
out of North Carolina that echoes earlier findings on capital punishment." [added 10/23/10]
memory - Slate magazine has an excellent eight-part
series on how memory can be manipulated. [added
judge rules against fMRI lie detector" - [added
CSI effect and the CSI infection - How does a myth (The CSI
effect?) continue if it doesn't really exist? [added
and gender of judges matters - [added
"Did Texas execute an innocent man?" - Fascinating
story of Cameron Todd Willingham who may have been wrongly executed
for what might have been an accident. The real story here though
is of the use and misuse of evidence, psychological and forensic,
and its effect on a jury and a criminal justice system. [added
on memory and the law" - This detailed report from the
British Psychological Society Research Board provides a good review
of the evidence and recommended guidelines concerning the role memory
plays in the use of witnesses and other courtroom processes. [added
the N-word and hate crimes - Very interesting article about
the question of whether a white using the N-word toward a black
is automatically the sign of racial animus. It begins with a very
interesting court case on this subject. [added 1/18/10]
do we want to punish repeat offenders so harshly?" - [added
use of experts - interesting article about how the U.S. is among
a small minority of countries that allows and encourages partisan
experts to testify in the courtroom [added
failures of deliberating groups" - This blog entry reviews
some interesting research on group decision making and possible
decision failures, such as when the majority influence can override
correct answers. Here is the research study. [added
judges decide cases" - This report reviews research on
the sometimes flawed decision making of judges and suggests several
reforms. [added 4/7/08]
repressed memories a cultural phenomenon? - This article discusses
an investigation of whether reports of repressed memory could even
be found in the historical record before 1800. In fact, the researchers
posted a $1000 challenge to anyone who could find any such evidence.
The article notes that the $1000 was finally awarded to a 1786 account. [added
of gory evidence on likelihood of conviction - report about
some research in which the level of gory detail and photos was varied [added 1/8/08]
images affects memory - [added 1/8/08]
Reforms to dispel rape
myths and increase convictions - report from the UK government [added 12/31/07]
silent stereotype" - interesting blog about a Anti-Defamation
League survey of American attitudes towards Jews in America and
related topics, and its relationship to the courtroom [added
and the death penalty - a blog about some research: "Blacks
who kill whites are most likely to be executed, according to new
research highlighted in a press release from Ohio State University
(31 July)." [added 11/21/07]
detection officers" - Interesting blog about officials
"introduced to US airports who have been trained to pick out
potential terrorists by analysing, at least in part, facial expressions." [added 11/10/07]
the credibility of sources - a good report from the 2007 APS
convention [added 11/10/07]
and proximity" - "Perceptions of proximity matter
to people. When something that harms them was nearly avoided, or
when they narrowly escape being harmed by something, or when they
almost acquire something they want, but nevertheless fail to do
so, they tend to react more strongly than when a harm that befalls
them was unavoidable or when a potential harm never came close to
occurring, or when they miss getting the thing they want by a lot.
In this article, we explore these psychological phenomena and their
implications for legal policy and process." [added
insanity defense - "Reason Magazine has an excellent article
on why our knowledge about the psychology and neuroscience of mental
illness doesn't really help when trying argue for or against the
insanity defence in court." [added 8/05/07]
judges are biased by camera perspective - a discussion of a
study that looks at how judges are also swayed by the camera angle
of a videotaped confession [added 7/8/07]
Wonderlic test, stereotype threat and the law - "The Wonderlic
is a twelve-minute, fifty-question exam designed to assess aptitude
for learning a job and adapting to solve problems." It is given
to many college football players prior to the National Football
League draft. Sometimes it is viewed as an IQ test of prospective
professional football players. This paper looks at whether stereotype
threat is in play when players take the test, and it examines some
of the legal implications of this process. [added
trials - Douglas Linder has created a nice site covering many
famous trials dating back to 399 B.C. Lots of good resources included. [added 12/31/06]
criminal cases - an extensive library of criminal cases and
other resources from Court TV's crime library [added
"science" - I can't recommend this series enough.
This five-part series published by the Chicago Tribune does a fantastic
job of exposing the lack of scientific support for many forensic
techniques such as fingerprinting, arson investigation, and firearm
and bite mark identification. It also describes quite well how the
justice system and juries so easily fall for the claims of supposed
"experts," how they became "experts," and why
it is so easy for many of them engage in confirmation bias and belief
perseverance. [added 12/1/04]
Documentary of an entire criminal case - "The shooting
of big man: Anatomy of a criminal case" is now available for
viewing online. The 1 hr, 40 min. documentary first shown on ABC
News quite a few years ago follows a single case from beginning
to end. [added
Interrogations, Eyewitness Identification, Jury Decision-making - research interests of Saul Kassin - you can find a lot of publications
and other info related to psychology and the law at his site [added
the Witness Stand: Essays on Psychology and Crime" - classic articles by Hugo Munsterberg (1908/1927)
Project - "effort to spearhead the plight of the innocent
imprisoned was started by NACDL members, Barry Scheck and Peter
Neufeld, co-chairs of the NACDL DNA Task Force and founders of the
Innocence Project at the Cardozo Law School in New York"
of Judges' Sentencing Decisions on Criminal Careers" -
report from the U.S. Dept. of Justice (1999)
Information Center - extensive set of reports, articles and
links related to the judicial system
Justice Statistics Resource Center - search "database to
find data about specific events and outcomes, such as the number
of defendants prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced in a given year;
download Federal criminal justice datasets for more in-depth analysis";
Books, and Book Chapters (available online)
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Legal and Criminological Psychology,
2000-2022. This site was created and is maintained by Jon
Mueller, Professor of Psychology at North
Central College, Naperville, IL. Send comments to Jon.