Forensic Psychology

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TURNING TO CRIME (sections and subsections)


  • Disrupted Families - (Bowlby)
  • Learning from Others - (Sutherland)
  • Poverty & Disadvantaged Neighborhoods - (Wikstrom)


  • Criminal Thinking Patterns - (Palmer & Hollin)
  • Social Cognition - (Jahoda)
  • Moral Development - (Kohlberg)


  • Brain Dysfunction - (Raine)
  • Genes and Serotonin - (Brunner)
  • Gender - (Daly & Wilson)
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Disrupted Families (Bowlby)

Consider different ways families can be disrupted (e.g. divorce, death, parent/sibling becoming criminal, exposure to criminal activity).

Study: Bowlby
Maternal Deprivation theory and 44 thieves study.

Procudure: different tests taken
1. IQ test of each child
2. interviews with parents to get record of early life.
3. interviews with child & parent for next few months - indepth info about history and psychological characteristics of child.

Sample: 44 children (referred for theft). 44 children referred (for other reasons).
             Aged 5-16 years old.

Results: 17/44 delinquents were separated from their mothers before 5yrs old. Control group were less likely to be separated.

Conclusion: if no attachment formed at young age, more likely to become delinquent.

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Learning from Others (Sutherland)

Criminal behaviour can be learned - from siblings, friends, media, and "copy cat" crimes. 
Real life case example: Danno Sonnex: whole family were criminals. 

Theorist: Sutherland's Differential Association Theory 

  • Criminal behaviour is learned (nurture theory)
  • Learned in interaction w/others through communication
  • Principle part of learning occurs within intimate personal groups
  • Learning includes (a) techniques of committing the crime (b) the specific direction of motives (c) attitudes and rationalisms. 
  • The process of learning criminal behaviour involves all the mechanisms involved in any other learning. 
  • Criminal behaviour is an expression of general needs and values, but does not explain criminal behaviour.

More criminal associations = increased chance of offending. crime is learned from those who see it as acceptable. 

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Poverty & Disadvantaged Neighborhoods (Wikstrom)

Consider how poverty is defined, why someone living in poverty may feel crime to be the only option.
It is not necessarily a low income and a bad neighborhood that leads to crime, but the opportunity within those neighborhoods for certain types of crime.

Study: Wikstrom
Longitudinal study aimed to explore situational influences on young people (how families, schools, and communities shape their social development).

Sample: 716 young people in Peterborough schools, eithically, socially, economically representative, randomly sampled - large sample BUT not generalisable to all young people (e.g. of diff areas).

Method: Various self-reports - questionnaires (parents & children), psychometric exercises, postal surveys, space-time budgets.

Results: weak morality and low self-control linked to criminality.
time spent in criminogenic environment is more important than living in one.  

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Criminal Thinking Patterns (Palmer & Hollin)

Consider ways criminals think differently about crime to non-criminals. What different motivating factors? Justify crmes (how?) how might one situation turn into a crime for one person and not another?

Attribution Theory: (considers 2 types of attributions)
External = attributes cause of behaviour to social & environmental factors. (e.g. rapists; "they asked for it")
Internal = attributes cause of behaviour within themselves. (e.g. rapists; "it was an impulse/urge"->internal can be treated)
> Neutralisation from blame; fraudsters "I wasn't aware" - does not blame themselves, may not blame others.
>> Ailen Wuornos - blamed the police for letting her kill them. External. 

Study: Palmer and Hollin
Gave deliqnuents questions of short scenrios. Asked them why they thought the protagonist of the scenario would behave that way - to be nice/mean/not sure?
Scenarious were pro-social, anti-social, or ambiguous.

Results: Found juvenile delinquents were slightly more likely to rate ambiguous scenarios as hostile - demonstating Hostile Attribution Bias

Sample: 97 convicted male young offenders
                77 non offenders.  >> Aged 12-24

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Moral Development (Kohlberg)

what are morals? who do we learn morals from? why might a lack of morals lead to someone committing crime? moral development theory.

"Moral Development" - when a person starts to perceive responsibility for their actions.
Kohlberg's 3 Level, 6 Stage Theory:

1. Pre Morality: (i, ii) reward & punishment and self-interest driven; what is right and wrong is determined by what brings rewards and punishments.
2.  Conventional Morality: (iii) conformity driven; do what other people say is good. (iv) authority and social order obedience; doing good=doing one's duty, showing respect and maintaining society.
3. Post Conventional Morality: (v) social contract driven; we do what we believe is morally right, sometimes law is too restricting, diff. opinions and values. (vi) universal ethical principles orientation; inner conscience has absorbed the principles of justice, equality and sacredness of human life.

Study: Kohlberg
Sample: 75 boys from USA (aged 7-16). (ethnocentric)
Method & Procedure: Longitudinal & cross cultural. Presented children w/ hypothetical moral dilemmas.
Findings:Young children = lower levels of morality, (stage 1 and 2). Older children = higher levels of morality (stage 3 and 4). No evidence for stage 6... perhaps this develops after age 16.

At age 10, an individual has the foundations of moral thinking.

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Social Cognition (Jahoda)

what is social cognition? how does society's perception of us affect thoughts about ourselves? why might this make someone turn to crime?

"Social Cognition" - people's understanding of what is going on in social interaction.
The way we make attributions about ourselves is often influenced by how others see and label us.
Self-Fulfilling Prophecy - a prediction that causes itself to come true, simply due to the fact the prediction was made. >> labelling someone as a criminal results to people treating them accordingly and to them becoming a criminal.

Study: Jahoda
Sample: people of the Ashanti tribe in Western Africa

Method & Procedure: quasi-observation, case study. Tribe culture believed boys born on Monday = more placid, Wednesday = more aggressive.
Looked at delinquency levels of boys over 5 year period.

Findings: 22% of violent offences = Wednesday boys.
                  6.9% of violent offences = Monday boys.

Conclusion: Supports idea that boys lived up to their names. Cultural and social expectations enhanced aspects of their development. Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.  

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Brain Dysfunction (Raine)

what can cause our brain structures to be damaged or to change? how might this affect our behaviour? real life example of criminal who blamed crimes on changes/abnormalities in brain.

Brain Damage - ares of brain inhibit our levels of violence and aggression.
Prefrontal Cortex - social inhibitor part of brain. causes us to have social awareness and morals.
>> Charles Whitman: killed 16 people and wounded 32 others in a mass shooting rampage. Prior to shootings, murdered his wife and mother. Had a brain tumour in the prefrontal region of his brain (responsible for social understanding). Could explain his criminal behaviour - social awareness and morals may have been inhibited.  

Study: Raine
Sample: 41 murderers (39 male, 2 female), pleading insanity; various reasons incl. head trauma, schizophrenia. Compared with matched control group of non-murderers. 
Procedure: Compared sample groups using PET scans - measures functions of brain. Glucose injection attaches to areas of brain that are active during a particular task.
Findings: Less activity in pre-frontal cortex of murderers. Link to loss of self-control and altered emotion - rapists who can't control sexual impulses and desires.
Less activity in left side of amygdala in murderers. Amygdala governs emotional expression.

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Genes and Serotonin (Brunner)

how do our genetics and hormonal changes affect our behaviour? what wider evidence is there that having certain genes can lead to criminal behaviour?

XYY - extra Y chromosome makes affected males more predisposed to violent crime. Linked to above average height and below average intelligence. Price (1966) found 28% of Schottish criminally insane inmates had this syndrome.
Serotonin - hormone/neurotransmitter. relates to mood (happiness hormone). Low levels linked to depression. High levels linked to aggression and irritability.
Dopamine - neurotransmitter. linked to brain's reward and pleasure centers. Too much linked to paranoid schizophrenia, too little linked to parkinsons and associated with addictions.
MAOA - enzyme. responsible for breaking down serotonin and dopamine, converting them into inactive substances, therefore regulating their release into the body.

Study: Brunner
Method & Procedure: 5 males from family in Netherlands. They were studied b/c they displayed abnormal violent behaviour (incl. arson, ****, anti-social behaviour).
Analysed urine samples over a 24 hour period.
Findings: Test showed a deficit in MAOA enzyme. Genetic trait = could not produce MAOA. This affeced their ability to break down serotonin, meaning their brain cannot take in more. 
Conclusion: Low levels of serotonin could explain their mental retardation, linked to aggression and inability for self control. 

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Gender (Daly & Wilson)

Evolutionary Theories
- aggression can be seen in all species because it aids survival.
- aggression and capacity for murder are products of our evolutionary past.
- males evolved to be risk-takers (e.g. more likely to take drugs, sensation-seeking, assertion of dominance) - stems from days of mate selection. Survival of the fittest > advanced lvls of testosterone.
Why do men commit more crime?
- Testosterone: aggressive behaviour more likely. Men have more upper body strength = violent.
- 'XYY' supermale: super aggressive.
- Smaller Amygdala: less emotional/understanding of emotions.
- Smaller corpus callossum: think slower compared to women.

Study: Daly & Wilson
Method & Procedure: Correlational study using police records, school records etc.
Studied communities in Chicago which had below average male life expectancy, comparing them with homicide rates in those areas.
Findings: - lower the life expectancy, higher the homicide rates - negative correlation.
                  - lower the life expectency, higher the school absence - negative correlation. (risk-taking              young males need an outlet, will find illegitimate means if need be).
Conclusion: young men from disadv. neighbourhoods expect shorter lives, they have short term horizons, discount the future. More prone to partake in risky activities = instant gratification

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MAKING A CASE (subsections and its studies)

Interviewing Witnesses:

  • Recognising and Re-Creating Faces - (Frowd)
  • Factors Influencing Identification - (Pickel)
  • Cognitive Interview - (Geiselman & Fisher)

Interviewing Suspects:

  • Detecting Lies - (Vrij & Mann)
  • Interrogation Techniques - (Inbau)
  • False Confessions - (Gudjonsson)

Creating a Profile:

  • Top Down Typology - (Ressler)
  • Bottom Up Approach - (Canter)
  • Case Study, Canter Profile - (Duffy)
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Recognising and Re-creating Faces (Frowd)

Different Techniques:
- Sketch Artists - expert artists draw the witnesses description of what they saw.
problem = artists can misinterpret what they are told, people may find it difficult to put the                           face into words + language barriers.
- Identikit/Photofit - using photographs if various people's features (eyes, nose, chin, hair) to create an idea of a person's face.
problem = not valid, no one's features are exactly the same. bias - favourite/lease fav features.                   Reductionist.
- E-Fit - Electronic Facial Identification. available in diff. languages, involves synthesizing various images to create facial composites.
- Evofit - holistic face model which evolves as changes are made.. face gets built up rather than broken down. Designed to match how we see faces as a whole rather than as individual features.

Study: Frowd
Sample: 50 P's aged 30+.

Method & Procedure: Stage 1 - Looked at photograph of unknown male for 1 minute (e.g. pic of matt damon, ben affleck. unknown to Ps). 2 days later, constructed a composite image using 1/5 different composite systems (independent measures): E-FIT, PROFIT, FACES, UK Police Sketch, Evofit (early version).
Stage 2 - P's in early 20s had to guess who the composite faces were. 3 separate tasks: Naming, Sorting (math composite to photo), Line-up (identify from 6 item photo spread).
Results: Sketch was best system for naming and sorting. E-Fit better in line-ups (although not significantly better than sketch).
Composites were generally of poor quality; successfully named 3% of time. successfully 40% of time in sorting and line-up tasks. 
Conclusion: Sketch was the best b/c of the human interaction factor. Better communication as more can be explained + understood. Sketch artists are human and think as we do, can create more natural, holistic composites. 

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Factors Influencing Accurate Identification (Picke

various factors that will influnece a witnesses memory and accurate recall of a suspect or event? Estimator/System variables/Weapon Focus.

2 Types of Variables Affecting Accurate Identifcation of the Suspect: (Wells)
Estimator Variables - the varaibles over which the judicial system has no control. Can only be estimated, (e.g. distance/proximity to crime event).
System Variables - factors that influence testimony over which the judicial system has some control, (e.g. leading questions, courtroom).

Schemas: the interference of your schema fills in the gaps of what we think we see (and what we say we see). Schemas are stored ideas or concepts of what we expect to find in a situation. These can distort what we think we see and then ultimately recall.

Study: Pickel
2 key factors being studied as possible causes of "weapon focus": (i) Unusualness. (ii) Threat.
Method & Procedure: Lab experiment. Ps watched 2 min video of hair salon robbery scene. Man (robber) walks to receptionist holding diff. things:

5 groups, 5 different objects held. Each group saw a version:
1. Nothing (control)
2. Scissors (low unusualness, high threat)
3. Handgun (high unusualness, high threat)
4. Wallet (low unusualness, low threat)
5. Raw chicken (high unusualness, low threat)
P's then completed questionnaire. Asked to describe the target (man), what he was doing, and identify him from a lineup.

Results: eye witnes accuracy significantly poorer in high unusualness condition - weapon focus. Weapon focus is another factor; the idea that when there is a weapon present, witnesses pay more attention to the weapon than offender's face due to the perceived threat a weapon has. Therefore, accurate identifaction of the suspect is decreased as the weapon distorts their focus. 
No difference in the threat conditions (low threat wallet, vs. high threat handgun).  

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Cognitive Interview (Geiselman and Fisher)

what 4 stages is it based on? how does each stage work to improve memory? how is it diff. to the standard police interview?

Based on psychological principles of memory. Has improved the quality of witness recall.

4 Principles:
1.) Encoding Specificity Hypothesis or Context Dependence:

à states we have better recall if we are in the same place, or emotional state as we were when memory was encoded. – cognitive interview uses ‘context reinstatement’ (mentally recreate event). E.g. where where you? were you with other people? Time of day? Gives more detal and description.

2 and 3.) Triggers are used within our memory to retrieve information, so if one doesn’t work, try another.
à interviewer asks witness to change the order and…
à change the perspective of how they witnessed he event
          > works by going against our schemas.

4.) Report everything in detail, even if idea is thought to be trivial/irrelevant – idea that everything in our memory is relevant. Works like ‘free-association’ à psychodynamic. Allows us to tap into our repressed subconscious. 

Study: Geiselman and Fisher
Compared cognitive interview with the standard police interview and hypnosis.
Showed officers of L.A.P.D. a film. 48 hours later, interviewed them about the film.

Performance was measured by the number of facts accurately recalled from the film.

Cognitive interview had the highest number of items accurately recalled.
Cognitive interview also had the most errors. 

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Detecting Lies (Vrij & Mann)

methods we can use to detect whether a suspect/a supposed witness is telling the truth? real life examples where lies have been detected?

When detecting lies, look for:
- Believability
- Stuttering, hesitation, stiff body posture
- Avoiding eye contact, looking away, looking up to the right
- Exaggeration; gestures, details 
- Detaching self from victim/crime/changing story/changing topic
>> Karen Matthews - "crocodile tears" pretend to be a witness/victim to cover up guilt of crime. Touching face/neck.

Study: Vrij & Mann
Sample: 52 police officers from Netherlands (gender equal). Some were attending lectures and some were on a coffee break.
Method & Procedure: shown 8 video clips of press conferences. Police officers asked to indicate (i) if person was lying, (ii) how confident they were with their decision, (iii) if they understood what was being said (clips were in english), (iv) any behavioural cues prompting their decision.
Results: only 3 officers were accurate at detecting lies 80% of time.
Score of around 50% is expected accepting chance factors (bc detection were yes/no). Therefore, only officers getting 60% correct where actually detecting lies and not just chance guessing.
therefore, 49/52 officers (all except the 3 good ones) were no better than simply guessing.  

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Interrogation Techniques (Inbau)

who is likely to use them? in what country? - PACE act, for what purpose would they be used?

Classic Interrogation Manual - recommends a small, soundproof room with 3 chairs (two for detectives, one for suspect), and a desk with nothing on the walls. This creates a sense of exposure, unfamiliarity, and isolation. Heightens the suspect's "get me out" sensation throughout the interrogation.

>> interrogator attempts to build rapport. Casual conversation to create non-threatening atmosphere. Makes it easier for suspect to talk and harder for them to stop talking when topic becomes relevant.

Theory: Inbau's 9 steps for interrogation
1. Direct Confrontation - "what did you do?" instead of  "did you do it?" (manipulates suspect)
2. Theme Develpment/Chance to Shift Blame - interrogator shows sympathy. help to mimize suspects involvement, e.g. "good michael, bad micheal" -michael crowe. (manipulates suspect)
3. Interrupt denial of guilt - suspect not allowed to repeatedly deny the offence, "you don't remember, selectively". (manipulates suspect)
4. Ignore Alibis - use them to force guilt, does not acknowledge reasons for suspect's innocence.
5. Retention of Suspect's Attention - keep eye contact, use first names, leaning in, etc.
6. Offer Alternatives and Note Suspect's Reaction - silence/tears? facilitate remorseful mood.
7. Give 2 Choices (either of these will suggest guilt) - "dont confess, you will go to adult jail. confess, we will help you and rehabilitate you." (manipulates suspect)
8. Admission of Guilt Infront of Witnesses
9. Obtain Signed Confession 

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PACE Act (UK vs. USA)


- Function of interviewing is the search for the truth rather than justifying a prosecution.
- Interview should be approached with an open mind.
- Interviewing officers should behave fairly. Should recognize any special difficulties of the group who are at risk of making false confessions.
-  However, some officers still believe gaining confessions are the most important thing in their work, even through the use of forceful questioning.


- Trickery and deception are used.
- When officers are trained, they are taught Inbau’s interrogation techniques.
- Training is frequently done by outside agencies.
- Present the suspect with an acceptable justification for their “crime” or minimize the crimes as an “excuse”. 

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False Confessions (Gudjonsson)

Why do innocent people confess? -mental stage they are in, tired, hungry, to avoid harsher sentence, mental impairment, unsure of their rights, duress, coersion, intoxication, fear of violence... etc.
Difference between US & UK: UK uses PACE act - limits coercive interrogation. Focuses (theoretically) on the search for the truth. Helps reduce the likelihood of false confessions.

Gudjonsson's 3 Diff. types of False Confessions:

  • Voluntary - confess b/c they believe they have done it. Associated with people w/mental disorders (e.g. sean hodgson = pathological liar)
  • Coerced Internalised - confess b/c they are convinced by the police that they have committed the crime, even though they have not. (person could mistrust their own memory, e.g. intoxicated/head injury).
  • Coerced Compliant - confess to something they know they haven't commited. Happens mainly b/c of coercive interrogation, the person confesses to escape the pressures of the situation.

Risk Factors in Assessing Reliability of Confessions:

  • The Defendant - very young/old? Low IQ, psychological problems (e.g. depression)? more likely to produce F.C.
  • Arrest and Custody - suspects arrested suddenly/violently/in the middle of the night; not in the right frame of mind. Long interrogation periods.
  • Mental and Physical State - confessions may be unrealible if suspect is stressed/anxious/ill/intoxicated prior to or during interrogation.
  • Interrogative Factors - coercive, biased, leading interviewer tactics may result in F.C. from vulnerable suspects.
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Top-Down Approach 1 - FBI Technique (Ressler)

what is top down referring to? who will FBI profilling be used on? at what point in an investigation will they be used? loose definition of profiling..

The FBI System (US) - top down focuses on the criminal themselves and features within them.
based on crime scene evidence and interviews with convicted serial offenders (36 murderers, 41 rapists). Assumes similarities between offenders, so ignores individual differences (bad).
     therefore, reductionist - not valid.
     Time Locked - based on 80s-90s. Thinking patterns of criminals will change. Not reliable.
     Validity Issues - convicted serial offenders will lie (self report). Might lie for early parole, won't                                             admit, might exaggerate- glorify. But all profiling is based on these     interviews.
     Unscientific - subjective (self report interviews). 

Description of FBI Typologies:
"Typologies" (categories of type) were created of murderers and rapists, as well as their motivation for their crimes. Created form interviews and impressions of past crime scenes.
- Match 'type' of criminal to the features of the particular crime.
- Establishes if offences are done by the same person, if they are likely to strike again, and if next attack will be more violent.
- Allows a profile to be drawn up based on similarities with past criminal types. 

Success: hard to determine b/c lack of publication. Out of 192 profiles generated, 88 suspects arrested. Only 17% of which had used the profile.
Failures: Washington snipers 2002 --> white, ex military profile. real offender = black with another person.  

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Top-Down Approach 2 - FBI Technique (Ressler)

Study: Ressler
Ressler made distinctions between two diff. types of murderer. 




General Approach

Planned and Controlled

Unplanned and chaotic


Brought to the crime



Destroyed or removed

Left at scene


Attempts to control

Little attempts at control


Unknown to victim, socially + sexually competent. Normal/high intelligence, angry/depressed. Tend to keep trophies.

Possibly known to victim.
Socially + sexually inept. Low intelligence, anxious/psychotic.

Rapist Typologies:

Type of ******

Characteristics of Attack


Attack motivated by need to reduce doubts about sexuality, less forceful, carefully planned.


Acquaintance ****, initially friendly but turns menacing, expression of masculinity.


Expression of anger towards women, victim is symbolic of offender’s anger, humiliation of victim, violent.


Sadistic, planned attack, extreme violence and torture, often resulting in death, victim is stranger.


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Bottom-Up Approach to Profiling (Canter)

what is bottom-up referring to here? link to geographical profiling & mental maps and how they can be used to pinpoint an offender.

- Looks at external features of a crime first, builds up an idea of the offender (e.g. witnesses, location, geography, crime scene information, victim).
>> Valid: more accurate than FBI, as it is based on factual evidence (external crime info e.g. location) that occurs in present crime.  
Mental maps - how we remember information about our lives (e.g. where we live) and how we mentally represent.
>> Reliability: computerised approach to predicting likely characteristics of crime. 
different mental maps - OURS: trees, location of houses, woodland, pubs. - CRIMINALS: main roads, neighbours, big house, who lives there, security.  
--> most serial offenders operate within their own area. 75% of **** cases, rapists lived within 5 mile radius of crime b/c they need to have a mental map - geographical profiling works well for these types of offenders. 

Theory: David Canter (Circle Theory/Geographical Profiling)
- builds up a profile of offender by finding associations between: characteristics of the offence, type of offender, and locations of offences. 
- using principles of mental mapping (geographical areas are mentally represented by everyone, including criminals - might lead us to where they operate and use their environment).
- works on predicted factors that correlate together to predict characteristics of offender.  

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Bottom-Up Approach (Evaluation)


à High – based on factual evidence (external crime info) that occurs in present crime. More accurate.

à Low – victim statements are often relied upon; memory issues?



à Not – only based on external clues at the crime, not cultural assumptions. Canters approach has been used in USA, UK, Netherlands, New Zealand à High replicability and reliability.



à High – uses computer program = objective, falsifiable, scientific.

Canter’s results are published – danger: ethics of criminals learning the process from the published results. They can then do the opposite.

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Case Study of Profiling (John Duffy)

Successful Profiling: John Duffy
- highlights the accuracy and usability of offender's profiles.
- in the 1980s, a string of rapes and later murderers were being carried out in London, all close to rail lines.
>> 1982-1986: 23 sexual assaults, 3 murders.
Canter's Profile:
- lived in the area, probably with wife/gf without children.
- mid to late 20s, light hair, 5'9
- semi-skilled job, weekend work/casual labour.
- keeps to self, possibly with one/two very close friends. knowledge of railway system.
- considerable sexual experience.
- probably under arrest sometime between 24 Oct 1982 - Jan 1984.

Very accurate profile! residence, age, marital status, occupation, criminal record were all correct.
of the 17 observations made in the David Canter profile, John Duffy met 13 of them.
was originally 1,505th on suspect list of 2,000.

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REACHING A VERDICT (subsections and its studies)

Persuading a Jury:

  • Effect of Order on Testimony - (Pennington & Hastie)
  • Persuasion - (Hovland & Janis Yale Model)
  • Effect of Evidence Being Ruled Inadmissable - (Broeder)

Witness Appeal:

  • Attractiveness of Defendant - (Castellow)
  • Witness Confidence - (Penrod & Cutler)
  • Effect of Shields and Video-Tapes - (Ross et al).

Reaching a Verdict:

  • Stages in Decision Making - (Stoner)
  • Majority Influence - (Asch)
  • Minority Influence - (Moscovici)
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Trail System Differences (Adversarial vs. Inquisit

Two Different Trial Systems

Adversarial System:
- The proceedings are structured like a dispute between two sides.
- Role of the judge is kept to a minimum - passive role.
- Judged by a group of peers (jury, magistrates).
- Strict legal rules of what is admissible evidence.
- Developed in the UK as a reaction to the mistrust of judges in inquisitorial roles. 

Inquisitorial System:
- Judges have a more central role and may supervise the preparation of pre-trial evidence (to avoid potential police bias).
- Judges carry out a lot of the questioning.
- Commonly used in Europe.
- Often used in civil trials.  

--> evaluation: studies/theories focused on the adversarial system will be ethnocentric. (the whole reaching a verdict topic is based on adversarial).

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Voir Dire & Methods of Jury Research

Voir Dire:
A process that is used to question potential jurors and allows any potential biases and prejudices to be spotted (subjectively).

- Helps determine legal bias, psychology? (if they have studied psychology), helps eliminate people suffering from mental disorders.
- However, does not eliminate all personal beliefs, gender bias, racial bias.  

Mock Juries and Shadow Juries:
- low E.V.; no real consequences, no emotional attachment.
   participants are often not representative of a real jury.

- However, mock juries are reliable (as they are lab experiments)
  But always reductionist - mock jury = lab experiment = one manipulated variable. 

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Order of Testimony (Pennington and Hastie)

what different orders is evidence presented in? which order works in favour for the prosecution/defence?

Lawyers use many techniques in court to persuade the jury:
Primacy Effect - remembering information heard first (presecutors have the advantage).
Recency Effect - remembering information heard recently (defendant have the advantage).
Chronological Order - using witnesses in order of events as they occured, as opposed to using the primacy and recency effect with witness protection (most important witness first). --> Our brains prefer stories b/c they fit in with our schemas. 

Study: Pennington and Hastie
Sample: 130 students paid per hour.
Method & Procedure: Mock jury. P's listened to tape recordings of mock trial. Then told to reach a guilty/not guilty verdict of murder, and then rate confidence on 5 point scale.
Done out of sight of eachother.
- Story Order: evidence arranged in its natural order.
- Witness Order: evidence items arranged in order closest to original trial.

Results: Story order is more effective in persuading the jury to reach a guilty verdict (78% said guilty) when used by prosecutors. Also more effective in persuading the jury to reach a non-guilty verdict (69% said non-guilty) when used by the defence. 

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Persuasion (Hovland & Janis Yale Model)

various factors that will persuade a jury of a defendent's innocence or guilt? what is the importance of being able to persuade the jury? who needs to be persuasive?

Persuasive Techniques:
- Using personal words that are easier to understand and relate to (lawyears snould not be stuck up/patronising).
- Dramatic, emotive, graphic language.
- Adding personal touches "she will never see her family again."
- More formal/professional - legitimate. Seriousness makes jury understand seriousness of consequences.
- Possible humour in the right places - can make you appear more human, approachable, trustworthy.
- Well presented - clean, neat, suit. Good first impression.
- Reasoning skills - seems more credible and fair.

Theory: Hovland and Janis - Yale model of communication.
SOURCE: needs to be credible, attractive, and knowledgeable.
MESSAGE: should have some emotional appeal. include a 1-sided message for lower educated, 2-sided for higher educated. Order presentation (primacy/recency effect/story order).
RECIPIENT: resistance to persuasian must be low. Low level of education.
SITUATION: should be informal.  

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Effect of Evidence being Ruled Inadmissible (Broed

what constitutes as inadmissible evidence? outline reactance theory. explain why people respond more to information we are not supposed to know or hear.

Reactance Theory - things become more desirable when they are less obtainable.
in courtroom setting, information that is deemed secret or forbidden (inadmissible) suddenly becomes more important or trustworthy.

Inadmissible Evidence - evidence deemed by the judges that creates more bias or prejudice than is relevant to the case.
Laws of evidence state that in order for it to be relevant in court, its relevance must outweigh its potential for prejudice.
>> inadmissible evidence can include: phone tapping (illegally gained), prior convictions (down to judges' discretion if they are directly related - Sara's Law), information from coercive or forceful questioning (not allowed in UK, but allowed in US), hearsay (not objective, however we cannot stop this from happening), answers given as a result of leading questions (imadmissible due to Loftus & Palmer), breath test taken with faulty machine, illegal drug testing, etc. 

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Effect of Inadmissible Evidence - (Broeder Study)

Study: Broeder
Sample: P's were on jury service at the time. 30 experimental juries. Took place at Uni. Chicago Law School.
Method & Procedure: Civil Law, Adversarial System. Mock Jury (lab experiment). Listened to tapes of evidence from previous trials; case of a woman injured by a car driven by male driver. 

- when juries learned that the driver was insured, they allowed for the compensation damage payment to increase by $4,000.
- when they were told they must officially disregard this information, they used it even more, increasing damage payment by $13,000.

Conclusion: clearly, reactance theory has taken place. P's paid more attention and changed their decision based on the evidence being ruled inadmissible.  

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Attractiveness of the Defendant (Castellow)

how do we perceive attractive people in our society? why might it create a biased opinion of someone in a courtroom? link back to yale model?

More attractive you are = higher status >> physical appearance is deemed to be an indicator of good health and influences mating potentials - evolutionary terms.
"Halo Effect" = Attractive person is perceived as more innocent.
--> schemas. We don't perceive attractive people as bad/thuggish. Yale Model link (e.g. an attractive lawyer is more persuasive)
Attractive defendants are treated better by the juries - may get a lighter sentence/not guilty verdict.

Study: Castellow
testing assumptions of Halo Effect.
Method & Procedure: Mock Jury (lab experiment). P's read a real trial summary of a case of a 23yr old secretary accused her male employer of sexual harrassment. P's were then shown photographs of defendant (male employer) and plaintiff (female secretary), asked to decide if defendant was guilty.
4 conditions:
1.  attractive plaintiff, attractive defendant = 71% guilty verdict.
2. attractive plaintiff, unattractive defendant = 83% guilty verdict.
3. unattractive plaintiff, attractive defendant = 41% guilty verdict.
4. unattractive plaintiff, unattractive defendant = 69% guilty verdict.
--> Guilty judgement most likely when female secretary was attractive and male employer unattractive.
--> Guilty judgement least likely when female secretary was unattractive and male employer attractive. 

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Witness Confidence (Penrod & Cutler)

why would someone be more or less persuaded by a witness that appears to be confident? difference between confidence and accuracy of memory?

During court case, how confident witness appears when giving evidence affects the jury's judgement of the witnesses' trustworthiness. The more confident a witness appears in their testimony, the more likely the jury will believe them. > relates to Yale Model (source must be credible in order to persuade jury, i.e. using expert witnesses).

Study: Penrod & Cutler
Sample: Undergraduates, eligible and experienced jurors. 
Method & Procedure: Mock jury (lab experiment) video taped trial of robbery presented to P's. Witness in the tape testified that she was either 80% or 100% confidenct she had identified the robber (two conditions).
P's were either in 80% or 100% condition. After watching video, P's asked to decide whether the robber was guilty or not.

Results: when witness was 100% confident, 68% returned guilty verdict.
when witness was 80% confident, 60% returned guilty verdict.
Conclusion: confidence of witness = not very relevant/useful (only 7% difference). However, could be an effect in some cases (e.g. Yale Model suggests increased confidence = increased knowledge = more trustworthy). 

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Effects of Shields and Videotapes on Children Givi

cases that require children as witnesses? why might they need to be hidden behind a shield? what might the presence of a shield indicate about the child? influences on how defendant is perceived?

Looks at ways emotional stress can be reduced on a child during a court session. This can be done by the child giving evidence via video link (could be video in real-time or prerecorded), or from behind a screen/protective shield (in the courtroom, behind a screen, not seen by the court).
Some implications:
--> giving evidence behind a screen inscreases implication of guilty verdict b/c suggests that the child is in need of protection from the defendant. However, could also reduce the extent to which the jury believes in the child's testimony.
--> was also found that video link method gave more consistent answers by the child. 

Study: Ross et al
Sample: 300 psychology students, gender equal. Majority white, majority middle class.
Method & Procedure: Mock jury (lab experiment). Jurors (P's) shown video of mock trial. Father was accused of sexually abusing his 10yr old daughter. P's had to decide of act was innocent or had a sexual nature. 
Video was 2 hours long. Showed real transcripts, recorded in a real courtroom using legal professionals.
Independent Variables:
1.) Condition 1 = child gave her evidence in open court.
2.) Condition 2 = child gave her evidence using protective shield.
3.) Condition 3 = child gave her evidence via video link.  


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Stages and Influences on Decision Making

Group Polarisation - when making decisions in a group, more likely to go for a more extreme or risky decision (extreme can be both ends of the scale). 
Diffusion of Responsiblity - in groups, we take less personal responsibility OR in groups, we are more fully informed, so our decisions change with the majority opinions.

Study: Stoner
"Risky Shift Phenomenon" - when in groups, people are more prepared to make risky decisions than when made to do so individually. Shift in the direction of greater risk.

  • Participants were asked a hypothetical scenario... should Mr. D take the new job?given a 1/10 chance - 10/10 chance of success scale.  
  • Participants had to indicate on a scale what their decision would be (1/10 chance = more risky).

Individual's response was 8.5/10 (less risky), whereas group's response was 5/10 (more risky). 
In the typical group, there was a "Risky Shift Phenomenon", as the group became more risk prone than the average individual group member.  

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Majority Influence (Asch)

2 types of influence:
Normative Influence - we conform in order to belong, to be liked and gain social approval
Informational Influence - we conform b/c of uncertainty and out of desire to be correct. 

Study: Asch 
Procedure: Lab experiment. 

  • 123 male participants. 7-9 P's sat at a table. Only 1 was a true participant. The rest were confederates.
  • Told to compare lengths of lines.
  • Confederates gave same incorrect answer on crucial trials (12/18 they gave incorrect answer).

Findings: P's answered incorrectly 36% of time (therefore conforming with the rest of the group = majority influence). 
Reasons p's conformed: their views actually changed (distortion of perception), felt doubt about the accuracy of their judgement (distortion of judgement), conformed outwardly but privately trusted their own judgements, i.e. they complied to avoid disapproval from group (distortion of action).

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Minority Influence (Moscovici)

When an individual/small grouop of people are able to influence the majority, leading them to change their opinions or behaviour.
Only likely to work if minority is: consistent, flexible, committed, relevant.

Study: Moscovici 
Procedure: Lab experiment. 

  • 172 Participants. all had good eyesight.
  • 6 P's at a time were asked to estimate the colour of the slides. 2/6 P's were confederates. All slides were blue but of differing brightness.
  • P's shown a series of 36 slides, had to indicate the colour of the slides.
  • 2 Conditions:

Consistent - the 2 confederates called the slides green on all trials.
Inconsistent - the 2 confederates called the slides green 24 times, blue 12 times.

Findings: P's in consistent condition called slides green in 8.4% of trials.
32% of P's in consistent condition report a green slide atleast once.  

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