Handbook of Psychology in Legal Contexts

Handbook of Psychology in Legal Contexts ( pdf)   edited by David Carson and Ray Bull – Second Edition

Psychology and Law:
A Subdiscipline, an Interdisciplinary Collaboration or a Project?

Which is it? Is psychology and law a subdiscipline and, if so, of psychology, of law or both? Is it an example of two disciplines collaborating towards greater understanding of their interrelationship, and if so is it best described as psychology in law, law in psychology or psychology and law? Should it be broadened to “behavioural sciences” rather than just “psychology”? Or is it a coming together, a commitment, of psychologists and lawyers to improve the quality and efciency of our laws and legal systems? Clearly we do not have a consensus on such issues.

Does that matter? Do we need to decide? Are we missing anything by not identifying, debating and tackling such issues?

This Handbookcontains chapters that exemplify each of the three approaches: subdiscipline, collaboration and “project”. But it does not follow that the authors would argue that their approach is the only appropriate position or approach. How we «do«, or what we write, in psychology and law does not, necessarily, re’ect what we would like to see happening at the macro or organisational level.

As individuals and groups we tend to focus on a narrow range of topics, with a view to gaining recognition for our expertise. This chapter will argue that we have not, to our loss, paid sufdent attention to the structural and thematic issues in this developing interest area. Organisational arrangements, particularly internationally (between national and regional bodies) and structurally (between researchers and practitioners but also between psychologists and lawyers), are poorly developed. Where «psychology and law is going, and should go, is still a matter of conjecture. Important opportunities will be lost unless we attend to these topics.

Psychology and the law are both inherently concerned with the analysis, explanation, prediction and, sometimes, the alteration of human behaviour. Of course there is much more to the study and practice both of psychology and of law. But there is this enormous overlap in interests, in clients, in topics, in issues: from identifying (e.g. see chapter by Yarmey in this volume) who has committed a particular crime to understanding why he or she did it and deterring or preventing (see Fritzon and Watts, in this volume) its repetition: from interviewing people (e.g. see chapter by Milne and Bull in this volume), in order to learn more about past events of which they may have recall, through assessing the credibility and reliability of what they say (e.g. see chapter by Vrij in this volume), to making complex decisions based on that information. Some emphasise the overlap to demonstrate how great is the common interest (e.g. Lloyd Bostock, 1988; Schuller and Ogloff, 2001). We could also list successes, for example on identi‘cation evidence, assessments of capacity to make legal decisions (e.g. see chapter by Murphy and Clare in this volume) on interviewing witness to collect more useful information about a past event, to demonstrate how much has been achieved. But that would also serve to emphasise how remarkably little use is made of that knowledge base. Legislatures and courts do not rush, or even have systems, to ensure that they take account of the latest research on, for example, identi“cation evidence or false confessions, despite its importance for improving justice and con“dence in the legal system.

Are the relations between lawyers and psychologists underdeveloped? We cannot agree an answer to that question without a consensus on what is possible. But its impact has been limited, it is submitted, when we consider what could have been achieved by now. For example, are psychologists or behavioural scientists regularly appointed members of law reform commissions, or similar? Do all lawyers have some education in the scienti“c analysis, prediction or shaping of human behaviour?

So why has psychology and law so relatively little to show? Why, when the potential for valuable and practical collaboration is so great, is the ambition so restrained? This chapter will encourage debate about such questions. It will suggest that a more adventurous and challenging programme for relating the disciplines and professions could, and should, be adopted. It will argue that psychology and law should be a •project*, as well as a «collaboration* and subdiscipline. It will differ from other overviews of the developing relationship between the disciplines (e.g. Kapardis, 1997; Haney, 1980; Schuller and Ogloff, 2001). The basis for interdisciplinary cooperation and intraprofessional collaboration is recognition of a need for, and a commitment towards achieving, greater (quality, quantity, efciency and effectiveness) justice. To the extent that this necessarily involves value choices, it is political.

Thus it is inimical to those who perceive “science” as pure and objective. But this is inevitable and a feature of the subject-matter. As such it should be acknowledged openly.



About the Editors
List of Contributors

Introduction : Psychology and Law: A Subdiscipline, an Interdisciplinary Collaboration or a Project?    / David Carson


  • Chapter 1.1    Adults* Capacity to Make Legal Decisions Glynis H. Murphy and Isabel C.H. Clare
  • Chapter 1.2   The Assessment and Detection of Deceit Aldert Vrij
  • Chapter 1.3    Assessing Individuals for Compensation Richard A. Bryant


  • Chapter 2.1   Interviewing by the Police Rebecca Milne and Ray Bull
  • Chapter 2.2   Violence Risk: From Prediction to Management Kirk Heilbrun
  • Chapter 2.3   Risk: The Need for and Bene“ts of an Interdisciplinary Perspective David Carson
  •  Chapter 2.4   Beyond «Offender Proving*: The Need for an Investigative Psychology David Canter and Donna Youngs
  •  Chapter  2.5 Uses, Misuses and Implications for Crime Data Tom Williamson
  • Chapter  2.6 Crime Prevention Katarina Fritzon and Andrea Watts
  • Chapter  2.7   The Development of Delinquent Behaviour Friedrich Losel
  • Chapter  2.8  Children in Disputes Judith Trowell
  • Chapter  2.9   Child Defendants and the Law i Peter Yates and Eileen Vizard


  • Chapter 3.1   Juror Decision-Making in the Twenty-First Century: Confronting Science and Technology in Court Bradley D. McAuliff. Robert J. Nemeth. Brian H. Bornstein and Steven D. Penrod
  • Chapter  3.2  Assessing Evidence: Proving Facts Michael J. Saks and William C. Thompson
  • Chapter  3.3   Advocacy: Getting the Answers You Want David Carson and Francis Pakes
  • Chapter  3.4Expert Evidence: The Rules and the Rationality the Law Applies (or Should Apply) to Psychological Expertise David L. Faigman
  • Chapter  3.5  Decision Making by Juries and Judges: International Perspectives Edith Greene and Lawrence Wrightsman
  • Chapter  3.6   Restorative Justice: The In’uence of Psychology from a Jurisprudent Therapy Perspective
    Eric Y. Drogin, Mark E. Howard and John Williams
  • Chapter 3.7 Proactive Judges: Solving Problems and Transforming Communities Leonore M.J. Simon


  • Chapter 4.1 Drugs, Crime and the Law: An Attributional Perspective
    John B. Davies
  • Chapter 4.2 Psychological Research and Lawyers* Perceptions of Child Witnesses in Sexual Abuse Trials  Emily Henderson
  • Chapter 4.3   Alleged Child Sexual Abuse and Expert Testimony: A Swedish
    Perspective  Clara Gumpert
  • Chapter 4.4   Eyewitnesses A. Daniel Yarmey
  • Chapter 4.5 Psychological and Legal Implications of Occupational Stress
    for Criminal Justice Practitioners  Jennifer Brown and Janette Porteous
  • Chapter 4.6 Therapeutic Jurisprudence: An Invitation to Social Scientists
    Carrie J. Petrucd, Bruce J. Winick and David B. Vtexler


  • Chapter 5.1 Methodology: Laws Adopting and Adapting to Psychology^ Methods and Findings  Brian Clifford
  • Chapter 5.2 Interviewing and Assessing Clients from Different Cultural
    Backgrounds: Guidelines for all Forensic Professionals Martine B. Powell and Terry Bartholomew
  • Chapter 5.3 Psychology and Law: A Behavioural or a Social Science? 645
    Stephen P. Savage

Language: English
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Pages: 689
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