OCR A2 G543 - Forensic Psychology

A list of summary revision cards for Forensic Psychology. Contains ALL studies.

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Disrupted Families - Farrington (2006)

Aims: To track the start, duration and end of offending behaviour from childhood to adulthood in families. Specifically to investigate the influence on criminal and antisocial behaviour of life events, risk factors, protective factors and Intergenerational transmission.

Sample: 411 working class males from six schools in London. Mostly White.

Procedure: Longitudinal study. Self-report method was used.– Participants interviewed over 24 years.

Results: 40% = convicted of a criminal offence. Worst offenders came from large multiproblem families. 7% were chronic offenders. They were all convicted before and after the age of 21.

–Compared to those with no convictions they were more likely to: Have a convicted parent, Be High daring, Have a Young mother, Have a Low popularity or Have a Large family size etc.

– The Proportion of men leading successful lives increased with age.

Conclusions: Offenders tend to be deviant in many areas of their lives. The most important risk factors for criminality in the family are, Poverty, Impulsiveness, Poor upbringing & Poor performance in school.

– Early intervention programmes for the under 10s could significantly reduce criminal behaviour.

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Learning from others - Sutherland (1939)

Sutherland supports recent evidence that our peer group can be an important factor in whether we offend or not. Sutherland came up with 9 principles for why individuals behave criminally a common aspect of all 9 principles is that 'we learn criminal behaviour'. Sutherland argued that criminality is not innate or pathological. Just as non-criminal behaviour is learnt so is criminal behaviour. 

In summary Sutherland argues that what we consider to be normative, behaviour is learnt from others. The implication of this is that they may consider their behaviour as normal and not deviant.


·      Difficult to falsify Sutherland's study.

·      It highlights how important learning from others is in influencing our behaviour.

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Poverty and disadvantaged neighbourhoods - Wikstro

Aim: To what extent does poverty and social disadvantaged neighbourhoods contribute to criminal behaviour. 


·         44% of males & 30% of females have committed at least one of the studied crimes.

·         10% of males & 4% of females have committed a serious crime.

Conclusion:The most important factor was not poverty or social disadvantaged but individual characteristics of the students e.g. their level of self control and morality.


·         This study contracts with Farrington's at which people turn to crime due to social reasons.

·         Sample wasn't representative of the general population as only year 10 students were used.

·         Interviews used therefore this means that there is a high chance of bias and social desirability.

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Criminal Thinking Patterns - Yochelson & Samenow

Aim: To investigate whether thinking patterns existing between criminals


·         Interviewed by two Doctors (Yochelson & Samenow).

·         Longitudinal study.

·         255 males, from various backgrounds.

·         Found guilty but labelled insane and admitted to secure mental hospital.

Results: They argued that criminals think differently from non-criminals, in particular their cognitions are:

·         Lacked empathy and Loved excitement (highly-daring)

·         Felt no obligation to others.

Conclusion: 52 thinking patterns were found in the criminal personality. These were considered to be 'errors' in thinking. HOWEVER THERE WAS NO CONTROL GROUP OF NON-CRIMINALS TO COMPARE RESULTS.

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Moral Development & Crime - Kohlberg

The main assumption is that criminals do not possess a high level of moral development.


·         Kolberg argued that there are 3 main levels of moral development, there are two stages within each level.

·         Younger children inevitably are at a pre-moral stage (level1/2).

·         Older children are at stages 3 and 4.

Conclusion: There does seem to be support across cultures for the stage theory. 


·         Evidence shows that individuals may posses criminal behaviour.

·         Not representative as only boys were used and of a young age.

·         Longitudinal study therefore a lot of information could be acquired over a long-period of time.

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Social Cognition - Gudjohnsson & Bownes

Refers to the way our thoughts are influenced by the people we mix with, but also, to look at it the other way around, how we can understand social phenomena by looking at an individual's cognitions.


·         Most guilty felt after sexual offences and that these individuals were more likely to make internal attribution.

·         Those who had committed violent acts against the person were equally as likely to make internal or external attributions for their behaviour.

·         Property offenders felt the least guilt and male slightly more mental element or internal attributions than external ones.

Conclusion: There is a strong consistency in the way offenders attribute blame for their crimes.


·         Not representative of the general population as only offenders from Northern Ireland used

·         Social desirability also comes into question as we are dealing with prisoners.

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Brain Dysfunction - Raine (2002)

Method: Review article was carried out looking at brain-imaging studies and reporting, how they relate to antisocial behaviour in children.


·         Low resting heart rate is an indicator of someone who will seek risk and excitement and be more antisocial.

·         Birth complications, poor parenting and physical abuse all lead to aggressive behaviour in children.

Conclusion: Raine concludes that by early intervention it could be an effective way of preventing antisocial behaviour.


·         Low in validity due to the use of brain scans.

·         High in reliability as a review article can be carried out by anyone,

·         However some factors such as poor parenting are hard to operationalise therefore this could question the results.

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Genes and serotonin - Brunner et al

Aims of the Study: a case study on a family from the Netherlands where males were affected by a syndrome of borderline mental retardation and abnormal violent behaviour. These included impulsive aggression, arson, attempted **** and exhibitionism.

Procedure: 5 affected males studied. Data collected from analysis of urine samples over 24 hours

Results: Test showed disturbed mono-amine metabolism associated with a deficit of the enzyme (MAOA). In each of the 5 males a point mutation was identified in the X chromosome of the gene.

Conclusion: MAOA is involved in serotonin metabolism. Brunner concluded that the MAOA deficiency in the family was associated with a recognisable behaviour phenotype that accounted for their inability to regulate their aggression.


·         Not all the males in the family were affected even when suffering from mental retardation therefore it could be said that there could be other causes of the aggressive behaviour.

·         It’s an extremely rare condition and hard to generalise and hard to come to the conclusion that this actually is responsible for criminal behaviour.

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Gender - Daly & Wilson

AimTo find out if homicide rates would vary as a function of local life expectancy.

Procedure: Correlational study using survey data from police records, school records and local demographic records. Local area average life expectancies, ranging from 54.3-77.4 were compared to homicide rates in those areas.


  • Males show more risk-taking behaviour to attract the attention of females.
  • Competition between other males.
  • Males live their lives with a 'short-time horizon'.
  • They seek instant gratification due to the expectation of living shorter time due to their risky behaviour.


  • Cause and effect cannot be established due to the use of a correlation study.
  • Female homicide rates weren't examined therefore it could be argued that the study isn’t representative.
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Attractiveness of the defendant - Castellow et al

Method: Laboratory exp.. using IMD ... 145 students participated for extra credit ... Told to read a sexual harassment case and answer questions on it ... Likart-scale used to categorise attractiveness.


·         Physically attractive defendants/victims rated positively on other personality variables as well.

·         Attractive guilty verdicts = 56%, Unattractive guilty verdicts = 76%

·         No significant gender differences were found.

Conclusion: Witness attractiveness can have a powerful effect in influencing jury decisions.


·         1-9 likart-scale used so difficult to measure what 5 means, due to individual differences.

·         Low in ecological validity as they had to read from a case study book.

·         Cause and effect, due to the significant differences between attractiveness/unattractiveness.

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Witness confidence - Penrod & Cutler

Aim: To examine factors, including confidence, which jurors may consider when evaluating eyewitness identification.

Participants: Undergraduates ... also Eligible and experienced jurors.


 ·         More witnesses stated that they were 100% confident.

 ·         Same results for suspect in disguise, weapon focus and retention interval of 63%.

Conclusion: Confidence is a poor predictor of witness accuracy. Also jurors' trust in it is undiminished.


  • Low in ecological validity due to a videotape used.
  • Students were used so therefore it cannot be generalised.
  • Very weak correlation found of 0.2 therefore and cause and effect cannot be established.
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Effect of Shields & Videotape on Children - Ross e

Aim: To find out if the use of protective shields and videotaped testimony increases likelihood of a guilty verdict.

Participants: 300 college students, majority white / middle class


  • Guilty verdict showed no significant differences between conditions.
  • Significant difference between male and female participants 59% of females against 39% of males found the defendant guilty.

Conclusion: Results from the two pieces of research suggest that the defendant is not more at risk if protective devices are used, with the video condition slightly less likely to produce a conviction.


  • ·         There are ethical considerations with calling children into a courtroom (psychological harm).
  • ·         Students used therefore cannot be generalised.
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Stages in Decision Making - Hastie et al

There are three main stages:

·         Orientation period – relaxed open discussion, questions, asked who thinks what etc.

·         Open confrontation phase – fierce debate, be in the defendants shoes, suspicions.

·         Reconciliation phase – decision reached and conflict is resolved through humour.

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Majority Influence - Asch

Method: Laboratory exp ..... Stooges given an obvious wrong answer ..... Asked which of the lines A,B,C matches the line X.


·         Individuals conformed in 1 out of 3 occasions.

·         32% of conformity with 4 stooges .. Drop to 5% of conformity when 1 stooge disrupts conformity.

Conclusion: This shows that the majority can have a significant influence over individuals however once the majority change their behaviour conformity drops.


·         All participants were male students who all belonged to the same age group - unrepresentative

·         The task (judging line lengths) is low in EV as it is unlikely to happen in everyday life

·         There are ethical issues regarding deception and psychological stress could have occured

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Minority Influence - Moscovici

Aim: To test his study of green and blue slides to see whether consistent dissenting voices who stick to their opinions would influence the majority.


·         For 8.42% of the trials, participants said the slides were green.

·         Overall, 32% of the participants agreed at least once.

Conclusion: The study suggested that minorities can indeed exert an effect over the opinion of a majority. Not to the same degree as majority influence, but the fact that almost a third of people agreed at least once is significant. However, this also leaves two thirds who never agreed.


·         Laboratory exp., cause and effect can be established 

·         Moscovici had high control over many variables including the type of slides presented 

·         Small sample of 4 innocent participants and 2 stooges therefore it is can be argued that the results cannot be generalized to the general population.

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Effect of order of testimony - Pennington and Hast

Aim: If witness or story order was best for reaching a guilty verdict and confidence levels.


·         Laboratory exp, 130 students from North Western Uni and Chicago Uni.

·         Listened to a tape recording of the trail and Presented with story or witness order evidence.

·         Reach guilty or not guilty verdict and rate confidence on a 5-point scale.

Results: Story order is the best way to persuade jurors to reach a guilty verdict.


·         Laboratory experiment was used this therefore has scientific credibility.

·         Repeatability is fairly easy therefore high in reliability.

·         Lacks generalisability due to students being used.

·         Paid students therefore social desirability/demand characteristics come into question.

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Expert Witnesses - Cutler et al

Aims – To investigate whether hearing about psychological research from an expert witness which casts doubt upon the accuracy of eyewitness testimony would affect a juror’s decision

Methodology – Laboratory experiment using videotaped mock trial

Participants538 undergraduates who were given extra credits for their introductory psychology course.

Results: 85% of jurors recalled what the expert psychologist said and used it to evaluate the quality of WT.

Conclusion: Therefore this suggests that councils are wise to deploy expert witnesses in cases involving EWT. i.e. the expert witness can help to persuade juries.


·         Social desirability due to students paid also psychology students were used

·         Videotaped evidence was used therefore this is low in ecological validity.

·         EWT shows that experts can influence juror’s decisions.

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Effect of evidence being ruled inadmissible - Pick

Aims – To examine how much the credibility of the witness affects the jurors ability to ignore inadmissible statements.

Participants –

236 psychology students from Bali State University. IMD


  • Calling attention to inadmissible evidence, juries were more likely to pay it attention and were less likely to vote for a guilty verdict.
  • No significant effect was found if the jury knew about previous convictions.


  • Social desirability due to students paid also psychology students were used potentially making the results biased due to them being aware of what the researchers wanted to find.
  • Low in ecological validity due to the use of audiotape recordings only using one of our senses e.g. hearing.
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Top-Down Approach - Canter et al (2004)

AimTo test the reliability of organised/disorganised typologies


Content analysis of 100 cases of serial killers in the USA.The third crime committed by each serial killer was analysed using The Crime Classification Manual.


  • Twice as many disorganised as organised crime-scenes were identified
  • In 70% of cases the body was concealed and in 75% sexual activity occurred.
  • Further analysis failed to reveal any significant difference between the two.


  • Instead of their being a distinction between the two types of serial murder, all of the crimes had to have an organised element to them as they hadn’t been caught after three killings.
  • Personality variables would be a better factor to research
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Bottom-Up Approaches - Canter & Heritage

Aim: To identify a behaviour pattern from similarities between offences.

Method: A content analysis of 66 sexual offences from various police forces committed by 27 offenders was conducted to find 33 offence variables that were clearly linked to a potential behaviour characteristic.

Analysis: The data was subjected to a smallest-space analysis.

Results: Central behaviours included, vaginal intercourse, no reaction with the victim, impersonal language, surprise attack and victims clothes were disturbed. Less central behaviours included, attempted intimacy with the victim, sexual behaviour, overt violence and aggression, impersonal interaction and criminal behaviour and intent.

Conclusion: These 5 factors have been shown to contribute to all sexual offences but in different patterns for different individuals which can lead to understanding how an offenders behaviour changes over time or whether two or more offences were committed by the same person. This has become known as the 5-factor theory.

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Case Study - Canter

John Duffy was a serial ****** and killer who, in 2000, confessed to comitting 25 offences between 1975 and 1986. His victims were always women, aged between 15 and 32 and targeted near railway stations in and around london. 

Canter got involved in the early 80's and based his profile on the locations of the crimes and the evidence of Duffy's behaviour. According to his profile Duffy was a marauder who commited his crimes near his home.

Preliminary profile: Canter suggested that the suspect would:

  • Have possibly been arrested some time after 1983.
  • Probably lived in that area at the time of arrest.
  • Probably lives with a woman but no children.
  • Mid to late twenties, light hair, 5 foot 9, right handed..
  • His job probably doesn't bring him into contact with public..
  • Knowledge of the railway where the attacks happened.
  • Considerable sexual experience due to the variety of his sexual actions.

Duffy was caught out of 2000 suspects using this method.

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Detecting Lies - Mann et al

Aim: To test police officers ability to detect lies when interviewing suspects.

Method: Field experiment.

Participants: 99 Kent police officers, (24 females 75 males), mean age 34.3

Procedure: Participants  asked to judge the truthfulness of people in real life police interviews. Participants were shown 54 clips and had to fill in a questionnaire about their experience in detecting lies. After each clip they had to indicate whether they thought the suspect was lying or not, how confident they were.

Results: No significant difference between lie and truth accuracy but both were significantly above chance. Also the more experience an officer had the greater the lie and truth accuracy. The most frequently mentioned cues were gaze, movements, vagueness, contradictions in stories and fidgeting.

Conclusion:  The more experience an officer has the better they are at detecting lies. Good lie detectors rely more on story cues than body language.

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Interrogation Techniques - Inbau et al

Nine steps of interrogation:

1. Direct confrontation - the suspect is told they are thought to be the offender
2. The suspect is given the opportunity to shift the blame from themselves.
3. Suspect should never be allowed to deny guilt interrupt any denials of guilt.
4. Ignore any reasons as to why they ciould not have commited the crime.
5. Reinforce sincerity, keeping good eye contact and using first names.
6. If the suspect cries, infer guilt
7. Pose the 'alternative question' both choices admit guilt but one is more socially acceptable than the other.
8. Get the suspect to admit guilt in front of witnesses.
9. Document their confession and get them to sign it to avoid them retracting it later.

Inbau thought the use of this technique was justified because it was used on people who were deemed suspects through their preliminary interview but it has been found that using this technique on young or mentally impaired people can lead to false confessions.

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False Confession - Gudjohnsson

Aim of the StudyTo document the case of a youth who was under pressure and distressed.


  • –Case study of FC – a 17 year old youth accused of two murders.
  • –1987 – Two elderly women dead in their homes, savings were missing and sexually assaulted.
  • –FC was arrested because of inconsistencies in accounts of his movements during an earlier routine enquiry.
  • – Also, he was spending more money than usual.
  • – There was no forensic evidence to link him to the case.
  • – During the interview he was accused repeatedly of lying.
  • – The questions were leading and accusatory. The police also suggested sexual impotency.
  • – He found this very distressing and after 14 hours of aggressive questioning he confessed.
  • – He took back this confession the next day.
  • – He confessed again under pressure about his inability to have good relationships with women.
  • – After a year in jail he was released when another person pleaded guilty to the crime.

Conclusions: This is a clear case of ‘coerced compliant confession’. He felt pressurised and confessed to escape the situation.

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Recognising Faces - Bruce et al

Aim: To investigate which is more recognisable internal or external features.

Method: Three laboratory experiments.

Participants Experiment 1: 30 staff/students from Stirling uni were paid £2 to sort the composites, 15 male 15 female (mean age 29.2). Experiment 2: 48 undergraduates at Stirling uni, 21 males 27 females,

Procedure Experiment 1: Participants in this task were asked to match up 40 composite images, made with E-FIT to 10 celebrity photos. Three sets were used containing either the whole face, just internal features or just external features. Experiment 2: The participants in this task were shown a photo line up of celebrities then shown the composites one at at time. The participants had to pick the celebrity face that matched the composite they were shown. Again only internal or external features were used.

Results Experiment 1: People matched external features and whole faces correctly 35% of the time and only 19.5% of the time with internal features.Experiment 2: Images of external features (42%) were identified more easily than internal features (24%) and this was consistent across difficult and easy types.

Conclusions Participants performed just above chance with internal features and did better with external features and whole faces suggesting that even with recognisable faces like celebrities it is hard to reconstruct the internal features.

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Factors influencing identification - Loftus et al

Aim: To provide support for the 'weapon focus' effect when witnessing a crime.

Method: A lab experiment

Participants: 36 students at the University of Washington, aged 18-31. Recruited through advertisment and either given $3.50 or extra credit in psychology class.


  • Control: Participants were shown slides of a queue of people in a Taco Bell restaurant. Person B hands the cashier a cheque. 
  • Experimental: Participants shown same slides as the control but person B pulls a gun instead. 
  • Participants were asked to fill out a multichoice, 20 item, questionnaire and to pick person B out 12 head to shoulder photos and rate how confident they were in their choice on a scale of 1-6.

Results: Questionnaire results showed no difference across conditions. Control participants chose correctly 38.9% of the time whereas weapon condition chose correctly 11.1% of the time. There was no difference in confidence of the participants across the conditions and eye fixation data showed an average of 3.72 on the gun and 2.44 on the cheque.

Conclusion:Participants spent longer looking at the weapon therefore had more difficulty identifiying the suspect.The influence may be greater in reality when a witness would be more aroused.

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The Cognitive interview - Fisher et al

Aim: To test the cognitive interview (CI) in the field.

Method: Field experiment with actual interviews of real witnesses by serving police detectives.

Participants: 16 detectives with at least 5 years experience, Dade county.

Procedure: Phase 1: Detectives were asked to record their interviews using their regular techniques. 88 interviews were collected. Phase 2: Detectives were divided into 2 groups, one was trained in CI techniques during 4 1 hour sessions. 7 detectives completed the training and were used in the results. More interviews recorded then analysed by a team at California University who were blind to the conditions.

 The CI trained detectives collected 47% more info than before and 63% percent more than the untrained detectives. No difference in accuracy across conditions and CI took longer.

Conclusion: Strong support was gathered for CI as more information was collected with no loss of accuracy and only a little time increase.

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Sofi Liperis

GREAT HELP!!! life saver more like!

any cards for health??


Really helpful, thanks :D


Thanks for the comments :) ..... I've been using these cards to revise for the G543 exam in June .... And I'm going to try and make some more cards for Health & Clinical, hopefully they will be ready and upload within the next 2-3 days.

Megan Lake


Really useful :)


Really useful thank you sooo much!


Thank you, these are fantastic!! :D


helpful! would have taken me forever to do it :) thanks :)

Lucy Bielska

Was trying to make my own, but failing miserably. These are so great, thanks so much :) :) :)


Ever so helpful! Thanksss! Btw, good luck with your exam on fri (: 

Teh Chimp

sooooo helpful! may have actually saved me!

good luck to everyone, all the best on friday!


Ahh thanks so much! Theyre wellll helpful!! Good luck on friday too everyone :)


thankyou !


So helpful! Thankyou!!
Good luck eveyone :)


im a soo screwd :(

ari carr

Excellent, a great help :) xxo

Good luck everyone!

SP 2011

Wow! Really detailed. Thank you.

Laura Osborne

Wow, this is amazing. Well Done! Hope they paid off for your exam!


Laura Osborne wrote:

Wow, this is amazing. Well Done! Hope they paid off for your exam!

Wow, this is the first time i've logged in since the exam last summer lol! .. Thanks for your comment! .. Yeahh they really helped a lot, thankfully I got an A for G543 and a B for G544 :)


Sooo helpful! Thank you :)  


this is quality, good luck everyone x

Mohammed GALILI

About 10 studies are missing, but this is amazing


Hi :) Thank you so much for this. This will be really helpful alongside my revision.

May I ask, if all the studies are learnt thoroughly, is that enough? After you learnt all the studies, did you do anything else?

Also, how did you revise for G544? Because the content for the options exam seems to dominate any revision!

Thanks again :)



I'm glad it could help you!

In terms of the G543 exam, I wouldn't say you need to learn each study in thorough detail, instead you should focus on the key areas within each study (i.e. - the aims, procedure, results etc). When I was revising for this exam, I took each study and practiced writing the main points in an exam style structure (PEE) and repeated this, this helped  hugely in terms of revision and remembering the points during the exam.

When revising for the G544 exam, I found it useful to look at previous candidate answers and develop a similar structure when trying to answer section A.

Remember, section A in the G544 exam is very straightforward!.. Just make sure that you write it up in GREAT detail (i.e. - I gave each participant a pen and a paper) etc.

stannis baratheon

again you have been of great service to house baratheon. i knight you ser A92 of psychology


Thanks for all the tips, much appreciated. :)


These are great notes. Are these all the core studies we have to learn for the Forensic section? 

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