Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Psychology and the law

Date:
February 17, 2011
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Legal systems are necessary in any functioning society. Centuries ago, people realized that the only way to maintain a peaceful community was to develop a firm set of rules -- laws -- to punish transgressors. As laws have continued to evolve in societies around the world, psychological scientists have begun to investigate the psychological basis of many aspects of legal systems.

Legal systems are necessary in any functioning society. Centuries ago, people realized that the only way to maintain a peaceful community was to develop a firm set of rules -- laws -- to punish transgressors. As laws have continued to evolve in societies around the world, psychological scientists have begun to investigate the psychological basis of many aspects of legal systems.

A new special issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, presents the current state of research on psychology and law.

Many lawyers rely on eyewitness identifications and expert testimony in the courtroom, but scientific research increasingly suggests that this evidence is often unreliable. Eyewitnesses may be influenced by a suspect's race and by feedback from law enforcement officers. Expert testimony may be similarly flawed. Studies have shown that experts are often biased to the side that requested their assistance and even when expert testimony is truly objective, the judge -- who is also susceptible to bias -- often has the final say in determining which testimony is admissible in a trial.

Successful interviews of witnesses and suspects are critical for an effective legal system. However, false confessions may result when police officers present fabricated evidence and lie to suspects -- a strategy known as the Reid technique. Psychological scientists have investigated alternative methods; for example, research suggests that false confessions may be reduced by the PEACE model, a method commonly used by officers in the United Kingdom which does not allow officers to misinform a suspect.

Aside from judges, juries play a key role in a number of legal systems around the world. Although all jurors enter the courtroom with some sort of implicit bias, research shows that juries are largely effective at considering evidence presented to them and applying the law.

While no legal system is perfect, scientific research may increase our understanding of the psychological underpinnings of suspect interviews, jury selection, and judges' decisions and thus help ensure that legal systems evolve in the most efficient direction.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. R. P. Fisher. Editor's Introduction: Special Issue on Psychology and Law. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 2011; 20 (1): 4 DOI: 10.1177/0963721410397654

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Psychology and the law." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110217141515.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2011, February 17). Psychology and the law. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110217141515.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Psychology and the law." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110217141515.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

Reuters - US Online Video (July 31, 2014) The Republican-led House of Representatives votes to sue President Obama, accusing him of overstepping his executive authority in making changes to the Affordable Care Act. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins