An annotated collection of more than 5000 links to resources and ideas for the teaching of social psychology and related courses organized by topic





Attitudes & Behavior

Attraction & Relationships

Conflict & Peacemaking


Genes, Gender, & Culture

Group Influence





Psychology in the Courtroom

Social Beliefs & Judgments

The Self




Psychology in the Courtroom


Activities and Exercises



Multimedia Resources (audio, video)

Topic Resources


Class Assignments

Articles, Books, and Book Chapters

= new link as of January 1, 2024

Report broken links here


Activities and Exercises

Non-eyewitness identification - "A non-eyewitness is a person who does not witness a crime but instead reviews a video of the event and judges whether the suspect is the perpetrator in the video. Often, but not always, the non-eyewitness has some prior familiarity with the suspect." Of course, such identifications are also prone to bias. Along with discussion of this phenomenon, a student activity is included.

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

“Myth: Eyewitness testimony is the best kind of evidence” - a lesson plan from APS with many accompanying resources

Eyewitness testimony

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

The 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]

Understanding the dynamics of criminal jury trials - an in-class activity and a field experience in a courtroom [added 6/19/10]

A 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." [added 7/23/08]

Multimedia Resources (Video)


"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)


Only test a witness’ memory once (57:14) - A cool new program presented by APS, this is the first of live events reporting on and discussing recent research.

Police interrogations (24:42) - an excellent description of the potential problems with police interrogations from John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight

False confessions (28:52) - Saul Kassin discusses his research on false confessions and how the research made its way into real world applications.

Juries (20:36) - A very interesting discussion of juries from Last Week Tonight. 

“How reliable is your memory?” (17:24) - an excellent TED Talk with Elizabeth Loftus

The consequences of sentencing (16:13) - from Mario Cano

Why people make false confessions (4:25) - an interview with Saul Kassin

The Memory Factory (1:11:05) - A lecture from Elizabeth Loftus -- "Eat your deviled eggs, young man!"  Well, no, not that kind of lecture.

The fiction of memory - (17:36) This a good TedTalk from Elizabeth Loftus. [added 7/29/15]

Brains 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 people’s minds and decode their thoughts and feelings affect trials like the one we are watching in the future? And should it?"

"Why eyewitnesses get it wrong" - (18:23) A TED talk from Scott Fraser [added 3/5/13]

Possible 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 12/16/10]

Documentary 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 on 12/1/04]


Class Assignments


Paper Assignments

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.

Portrayal 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 assignment. [added 11/18/04]


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."



What happens if the mayor is your jury foreman? - interesting case of former New York Mayor Guiliani serving as foreman of a jury [added 6/3/08]

Topic Resources


Confessions and Interrogations Eyewitness Testimony
Jurors and Juries DNA Evidence
Lying and Lie Detection Other Resources



Confessions and Interrogations

"It's time for police to stop lying to suspects" - An opinion piece in the New York Times

Best practices for investigative interviewing - Sonja Brubacher talks about her work to improve interviewing techniques.

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]

The truth of two-person interrogation - interesting research on a two-person (one interviews while the other takes notes) interrogation [added 2/19/14]

False confessions - This brief article reviews some research on false confessions. [added 1/29/12]

False confessions and eyewitness misidentifications - [added 8/21/11]

Why do people confess to crimes they didn't commit? - This article provides a good overview of this question. [added 12/23/10]

Coerced confessions - good blog entry about some of the problems with confessions [added 7/18/10]

"The 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 confession." [added 2/13/10]

"The psychology and power of false confessions" - a very good article in the APS Observer [added 1/19/10]

Interrogation 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." [added 4/14/08]

"The false confession" - an article from Psychology Today [added 12/31/06]

Forced confessions: "Why do people confess to crimes they did not commit? And what can be done to stop it?" - a brief article by Elaine Cassel [added 3/23/04]

Jurors and Juries

“Do you want more men or more women on your criminal jury?” - This blog post discusses new research on the topic.

Will jurors use genetic background of defendants to lessen their guilt or sentence? - some of the first research to look at this question

#1 rated new TV show in U.S.?  Jury consultant "Bull" - This real-life jury consultant reflects on the problems with the TV portrayal of a character many of your students might watch.  I know, crazy right?  After TV is spot-on with its portrayal of every other group in society, this would be the one it gets wrong!

Slow-motion video increases jurors' belief that an act is intentional - fascinating and scary research

Jurors are identifying as multiracial more frequently

"How do you keep older jurors invested in your case?"

Responding to juror holdouts - Interesting study found that if the one holdout juror was a MALE and expressed anger the other jurors started doubting their original position.  However, if the holdout was FEMALE and expressed anger the other jurors became more confident in their original judgments.

Changing political ideology of jurors - interesting review of recent research on how jurors are describing themselves

"How jurors can be misled by... - emotional testimony and gruesome photos"

"The effect of eyeglasses on juror decisions" - Insert some "justice is blind" joke here. [added 8/6/15]

Empowering rather than numbing jurors - interesting research [added 8/4/15]

How juries respond to different female Muslim head coverings - [added 8/4/15]

Jury humor - [added 8/4/15]

Effects of pre-trial media on jurors - [added 2/19/14]

How race can influence jury selection - as illustrated in the George Zimmerman murder trial [added 8/20/13]

"Illegal racial discrimnation in jury selection" - a 2010 report from the Equal Justice Initiative [added 7/5/12]

Death-qualified 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 1/29/12]

Wishing 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 8/21/11]

The psychology of voir dire - a good, detailed article on the topic [added 12/23/10]

Stereotypes 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." [added 10/23/10]

Race 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. [added 10/23/10]

Sharing 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 7/14/10]

Racial 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 1/19/10]

A 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 outcome."

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. [added 4/25/09]

A 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 4/25/09]

A poll on juries and jury duty - This blogger addresses this new survey through the "lens of race." [added 4/7/08]

"Juror attitudes and biases in sexual assault cases" - a report from the Australian Institute of Criminology [added 12/11/07]

Juries 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. [added 11/21/07]

"To 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]

State-by-state 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]

Spotting 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 12/31/06]

Lying and Lie Detection

"Humans are pretty lousy lie detectors"

“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]

Why is it so hard to detect lying? - [added 7/5/12]

Detecting 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 1/29/12]

Lie 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 7/19/10]

Eyewitness Testimony

Career close-up: Eyewitness identification researcher

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]

"Anxiety limits our ability to discriminate faces and speech" - Which researchers suggest can be another source of fallibility in eyewitness testimony [added 2/19/14]

"Super-recognizer 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 2/19/14]

Using 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 8/20/13]

"Drunk eyewitnesses are more reliable than expected" - Du.. Wait... what?? [added 8/20/13]

"Your memory of events is distorted within seconds" - Blog entry describes some clever studies illustrating how quickly we modify our memories of events. [added 7/5/12]

"34 years later, Supreme Court will revisit eyewitness IDs" - an article from The New York Times [added 1/29/12]

Eyewitness 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 12/23/10]

Landmark 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 10/24/10]

Eyewitness 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. [added 7/18/10]

Being "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 4/25/09]

Brain waves distinguish false memories from real ones - [added 12/21/07]

The 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 12/21/07]

Life and career of Elizabeth Loftus - a good report from the 2007 APS convention based on an interview with Elizabeth Loftus [added 11/10/07]

"Recent advances in false memory research" - a good report from the 2007 APS convention [added 11/10/07]

Problems 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]

"Did Texas execute an innocent man?" - See the role eyewitness testimony played in the conviction. [added 7/6/06]

Mistaken 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 7/6/06]


"A challenge to research on eyewitness testimony" - a brief article by Elaine Cassel on a ruling by a New York judge [added 3/23/04]

"Eyewitness Evidence: A Guide for Law Enforcement" - from the U.S. Dept. of Justice (1999)

"Innocence Lost: The Plea" - PBS Frontline show on the case of preschool workers in North Carolina accused of child sexual abuse


DNA Evidence

“DNA evidence versus cognitive bias” - fascinating account of how law enforcement often pursued the wrong suspect despite advances in DNA evidence

Jurors, DNA evidence, and the CSI effect - [added 7/17/09]

DNA 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

DNA Easy - "DNA Testing: An Introduction For Non-Scientists: An Illustrated Explanation" by Donald Riley, (1998), from Scientific Testimony, an online journal


Other Resources

Unfair delays lead to harsher sentences - "Most people agree that the punishment should fit the crime, but procedural delays outside of defendants’ control may cause judges, case review boards, and other third parties to support more severe sentences."

How expert testimony is perceived in the courtroom

Misperception of the mentally ill and the criminal justice system - with a particular focus on rural areas

Disagreeable- not masculine-looking male faces increase judgments of guilt

Bite marks and other junk science - excellent article on the problems with bite marks as evidence, but how they are still used

Research on wrongful convictions

"The fallacy of an airtight alibi"

Teen impulsivity and crime - an excellent essay from David Myers

"Gruesome descriptions can make crimes seem worse, but ... - judges and lawyers are immune to this bias."  There is plenty of evidence that criminal justice officials are not immune to other biases, so it is kind of refreshing to see that they may be less susceptible to this one.

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]

Attractive 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. That’s 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 that’s 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]

"Predicting 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]

Does disorder lead to more crime? Is it always bad? - Yes and no. [added 8/20/13]

"Stereotype 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 7/5/12]

Psychology 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 1/29/12]

Fooled by numbers - essay reviewing research on how we like numbers but are often fooled by them [added 1/29/12]

Rape 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 1/29/12]

Legal 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 1/29/12]

Man 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]

Why 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 1/29/12]

Judges 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]

The value of metaphors - Interesting study looked at how metaphors can shape jurors' interpretations and preferences. [added 4/28/11]

"How 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 4/28/11]

Memory 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 4/28/11]

The 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 4/27/11]

Should 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 12/23/10]

You 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 12/23/10]

"Victim 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]

Manipulating memory - Slate magazine has an excellent eight-part series on how memory can be manipulated. [added 7/18/10]

"Federal judge rules against fMRI lie detector" -
[added 7/18/10]

The CSI effect and the CSI infection - How does a myth (The CSI effect?) continue if it doesn't really exist? [added 7/18/10]

Race and gender of judges matters - [added 3/13/10]

"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 1/19/10]

"Guidelines 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 1/19/10]

Using 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]

"Why do we want to punish repeat offenders so harshly?" - [added 4/25/09]

The 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 12/21/08]

"Four 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 8/10/08]

"How judges decide cases" - This report reviews research on the sometimes flawed decision making of judges and suggests several reforms. [added 4/7/08]

Are 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 4/7/08]

Influence 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]

Manipulating images affects memory - [added 1/8/08]

Reforms to dispel rape myths and increase convictions - report from the UK government [added 12/31/07]

"The 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 12/11/07]

Race 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]

"Behavior 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]

Judging the credibility of sources - a good report from the 2007 APS convention [added 11/10/07]

"Law 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 8/05/07]

The 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]

Even 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]

The 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 12/31/06]

Famous 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]

Famous criminal cases - an extensive library of criminal cases and other resources from Court TV's crime library [added 6/20/05]

Forensic "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]

Video: 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 on 12/1/04]

Police 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 6/5/02]

"On the Witness Stand: Essays on Psychology and Crime" - classic articles by Hugo Munsterberg (1908/1927)

Innocence 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"

"Effects of Judges' Sentencing Decisions on Criminal Careers" - report from the U.S. Dept. of Justice (1999)

Justice Information Center - extensive set of reports, articles and links related to the judicial system

Federal 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"; and more

Articles, Books, and Book Chapters (available online)

Book Chapters

Carlsmith, K. M., & Darley, J. M. (2008). Psychological aspects of retributive justice. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, Vol. 41.

Lassiter, G.D., Geers, A.L., Munhall, P.J., Handley, I.M, & Beers, M.J. (2001). Videotaped confessions: Is guilt in the eye of the camera. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, Vol. 33.

Memon, A. Cronin, O, Eaves, R. and Bull, R. (1996) An empirical test of the 'mnemonics components' of the Cognitive Interview. In: G.M. Davies, S. Lloyd-Bostock, M. McMurran and C. Wilson (eds.) Psychology. Psychology and Law: Advances in Research. Berlin: De Gruyter.

Olson, E. A. & Wells, G. L. (2002). Eyewitness testimony. Annual Review Psychology, 54:277-295.

Wells, G. L. & Loftus, E. F. (2002). Eyewitness memory for people and events. In A. Goldstein, Ed. Comprehensive handbook of psychology, 11, Forensic psychology. New York: John Wiley and Sons.


Baron, J. (1995). Blind justice: Fairness to groups and the do-no-harm principle. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 8, 71-83.

Baron, J. & Beattie, J. (1995). In-kind vs. out-of-kind penalties: preference and valuation. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 1, 136-151.

Baron, J. & Ritov, I. (1993). Intuitions about penalties and compensation in the context of tort law. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 7, 17-33.

Deffenbacher, K. A.; Bornstein, B. H.; Penrod, S. D. & McGorty, K. (2004). A meta-analytic review of the effects of high stress on eyewitness memory. Law and Human Behavior, 28, 687-706.

Fein, S., Morgan, S. J., Norton, M. I., & Sommers, S. R. (1997). Hype and suspicion: Effects of pretrial publicity, race, and suspicion on jurors’ verdicts. Journal of Social Issues, 53, 487-502.

Foxhall, K. (2000). Suddenly, a big impact on criminal justice. Monitor on Psychlogy, Volume 31, No. 1.

Hasel, L. E. & Kassin, S. M. (2009) On the presumption of evidentiary independence: Can confessions corrupt eyewitness identifications? Psychological Science, 21, 122-126.

Holmgren, J. A., & Fordham, J. (2011). The CSI Effect and the Canadian and the Australian jury. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 56, Supplement s1, S63-71.

Hope, L., Lewinski, W., Dixon, J., Blocksidge, D., & Gabbert, F. (2012). Witnesses in action: The effect of physical exertion on recall and recognition. Psychological Science, 23, 386-390.

Kassin, S. M., & Sommers, S. R. (1997). Inadmissible testimony, instructions to disregard, and the jury: Substantive versus procedural considerations. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 23, 1046-1054.

Lassiter, G.D., Geers, A.L., Handley, I.M, Weiland, P.E., Munhall, P.J. (2002). Videotaped interrogations and confessions: A simple change in camera perspective alters verdicts in simulated trials. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87, 867-874.

Loftus, G.R. (2010). What can a perception-memory expert tell a jury? Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 17, 143-148.

Memon, A., Holley, A., Wark, L., Bull, R., & Koehnken, G. (1997). Eyewitness performance in Cognitive and Structured Interviews. Memory, 5, 639-655.

Memon, A., Holley, A., Wark, L., Bull, R., & Koehnken, G. (1996). Reducing suggestibility in child witness interviews. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 10, 503-518.

Münsterberg, H. (1908/1927). "On the witness stand: Essays on psychology and crime".

Norton, M. I., Sommers, S. R., & Brauner, S. (2007). Bias in jury selection: Justifying prohibited peremptory challenges. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 20, 467-479.

Olson, E. A. & Wells, G. L. (2003). Distorted retrospective eyewitness reports as functions of feedback and delay. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 9, 42-52.

Olson, E. A. & Wells, G. L. (2004). What makes a good alibi? A proposed taxonomy. Law and Human Behavior, 28, 157-176.

  • Philip ,
  • Petter
  • Christian Balkenius,
  • Michael J. Spivey,
  • and Daniel C. Richardson

Pärnamets, P., Johansson, P., Balkenius, C., Spivey, M. J., & Richardson, D. C. (2015). Biasing moral decisions by exploiting the dynamics of eye gaze. PNAS, 112, 4170-4175.

Ross, D.F., Benton, T.R., McDonnell, S., Metzgerr, R., & Silver, C. (2007). When accurate and inaccurate eyewitnesses look the same: A limitation of the ‘pop-out’ effect and the 10- to 12-second rule. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 21, 677-690.

Shariff, A. F., Greene, J. D., Karremans, J. C., Luguri, J. B., Clark, C. J., Schooler, J. W., & ... Vohs, K. D. (2014). Free will and punishment: A mechanistic view of human nature reduces retribution. Psychological Science, 25, 1563-1570.

Shelton, D., Kim, Y., & Barak, G. (2007). A study of juror expectations and demands concerning scientific evidence: Does the "CSI Effect" exist? Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law, 9, 331-368.

Skagerberg, E.M. & Wright, D.B. (2009). Susceptibility to postidentification feedback is affected by source credibility. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 23, 506-523.


Smalarz, L, Madon, S., Yang, Y., Guyll, M., & Buck, S. (2016). The perfect match: Do criminal stereotypes bias forensic evidence analysis? Law and Human Behavior, 40, 420-429.

Smalarz, L., Scherr, K. C., & Kassin, S. M. (2016).  Miranda at 50: A psychological analysisCurrent Directions in Psychological Science, 25, 455-460.

Smith, L. L., Bull, R., & Holliday, R. (2011). Understanding juror perceptions of forensic evidence: Investigating the impact of case context on perceptions of forensic evidence strength. Journal of Forensic Science, 56, 409-414.

Sommers, S. R. (2007). Race and the decision-making of juries. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 12, 171-187.

Sommers, S. R., & Douglass, A. B. (2007). Context matters: Alibi strength varies according to evaluator perspective. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 12, 41-54.

Sommers, S. R., & Ellsworth, P. C. (2000). Race in the courtroom: Perceptions of guilt and dispositional attributions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26, 1367-1379.

Sommers, S. R., & Ellsworth, P. C. (2001). White juror bias: An investigation of racial prejudice against Black defendants in the American courtroom. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 7, 201-229.

Sommers, S. R., & Kassin, S. M. (2001). On the many impacts of inadmissible testimony: Selective compliance, need for cognition, and the overcorrection bias. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27, 1368-1377.

Sommers, S. R., & Norton, M. I. (2007). Race-based judgments, race-neutral justifications: Experimental examination of peremptory use and the Batson challenge procedure. Law and Human Behavior, 31, 261-273.

Sommers, S. R., & Norton, M. I. (2008). Race and jury selection: Psychological perspectives on the peremptory challenge debate. American Psychologist, 63, 527-539.

Spencer, B.D. (2007). Estimating the accuracy of jury verdicts. Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, 4, 305-329.

Vidmar, N. (1998). The performance of the American civil jury: An empirical perspective. Arizona Law Review, 40, 849-900. [added 11/18/07]

Wells, G.L. & Bradfield, A.L. (1999). Distortions in eyewitnesses' recollections: Can the postidentification-feedback effect be moderated? Psychological Science, 10, 138-144.

Wells, G. L., Malpass, R. S., Lindsay, R.C.L., Fisher, R. P., Turtle, J. W., & Fulero, S. M. (2000). From the lab to the police station: A successful application of eyewitness research. American Psychologist, 55, 581-598.

Wells, G. L., Memon, A., & Penrod, S. D., (2006). Eyewitness evidence: Improving its probative value. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 7, 45-75.

Wells, G. L., Olson, E. A. & Charman, S. D. (2002). The confidence of eyewitnesses in their identifications from lineups. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 11, 151-154.

Wegner, D. M., Swann, W. B., Jr., & Giuliano, T. (1982). Where leading questions can lead: The power of conjecture in social interaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 42, 1025-1035.

Wright, D. B., Gabbert, F., Memon, A., & London, K. (2008). Changing the criterion for memory conformity in free recall and recognition. Memory, 16, 137-148.

Wright, D. B., Gaskell, G. D., & O'Muircheartaigh, C. A. (1997). The reliability of subjective reports of memory. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 9, 313-323.

Wright, D. B., & Hall, M. (2007). How a “reasonable doubt” instruction affects decisions of guilt. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 29, 85-92.

Wright, D. B., Mathews, S., A. & Skagerberg, E. M. (2005). Social recognition memory: The effect of other people's responses for previously seen and unseen items. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 11, 200-209.

Wright, D. B., & McDaid, A. T. (1996). Comparing system and estimator variables using data from real line-ups. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 10, 75-84.

Wright, D.B., Memon, A., Skagerberg, E.M., & Gabbert, F. (2009). When eyewitnesses talk. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18, 174-178.

Wright, D. B., & Osborne, J. E. (2005). Dissociation, cognitive failures, and working memory. American Journal of Psychology, 118, 103-113.

Wright, D. B., Ost, J., & French, C. C. (2006). Ten years after: What we know now that we didn’t know then about recovered and false memories. Psychologist, 19, 352-355.

Wright, D. B., & Skagerberg, E. M. (2007). Post-identification feedback affects real eyewitnesses. Psychological Science, 18, 172-178.

Wright, D. B., Startup, H. M., & Mathews, S. A. (2005). Mood, dissociation, and false memories using the Deese-Roediger-McDermott paradigm. British Journal of Psychology, 96, 283-293.

Wright, D. B., Varley, S., & Belton, A. (1996). Accurate second guesses in misinformation studies. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 10, 13-22.

Wright, D. B., & Wareham, G. (2005). Mixing sound and vision: The interaction of auditory and visual information for earwitnesses of a crime scene. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 10, 103-108.






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