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Forensic Psychology Lecture 1

Forensic psychology draws from what fields in psychology?
Cognitive - intellectual processes
Perception - face recognition
Social - Stanford experiment
Clinical - criminal profiling, personality disorders
Personality - some people are more at risk of offences
Developmental - do children eyewitnesses attitudes towards justice change over time?
When can questioning of the child occur? (2 ways)
Pretrial (investigative interviews) by psychologist, counselor or barrister
During Court appearance (cross examination)
Discuss issues with the Mr Bubbles case in NSW 1988.
Simple allegation by "problem" mother
Group Abuse alleged
Police encouraged parents to question their children
Inexperienced Interviewers
Inappropriate questioning techniques
Increasingly bizarre allegations
Case thrown out
Something MAY have happened to 1 or 2 children
What are 6 inappropriate questioning techniques?
1. Positive Consequences
2. Negative Consequences
3. Co-witness Information
4. Invite Speculation
5. Introduce Information
6. Suggestive Questions
Positive Consequences Interview Technique
Praise & rewards for statements that meet interviewers expectations
"If you make a statement, Billy, you're being a good boy"
Negative Consequences Interview Technique
Express disapproval of answers
Repeat questions until desired answer given
Co-witness Information Technique
"Others have told us..."
Social pressure to conform
Invite Speculation Technique
Often on bizarre allegations
"Where do you think he would have touched her?"
Introduce Information Questioning Technique
Often on bizarre allegations
Can become internalised
Suggestive Questions Technique
"He hurt you, didn't he?
Stereotype Induction Technique
Inducing a belief about a person
They will be more likely to agree that the person has offended
"We know X does bad things; We can help put him in jail"
Yes/No Questions Technique
Tend to imply that you should agree
Option-Posing Questions Technique
"Were you in the living room or the bedroom?"
Why are these questioning techniques inappropriate for children?
Play on the childrens limited cognitions
Childrens problem solving and and understanding of the world is limited
Children are easily suggestible
Memory weakness is a vulnerability
How does childrens limited social/emotional development interfere with their testimony?
Suggestibility: acquiesce to authority
Individual differences in self-esteem/confidence (may not stand up to an adult)
Irrational fears - giving evidence about someone may have consequences
Pressure from parents/coaching
What do children misunderstand about the legal system?
Need to prove their OWN innocence
If they don't say the right thing, they might go to jail
The role of the witness
How is cognitive and social-emotional development interlinked?
Dealing with emotions such as fear & shyness can interfere with cognitive processes (memory, working out what the question is)
Social cognition - "Why is this person asking me all these questions?"
Why is the court a child-unfriendly place?
Intimidating, unfamiliar context
Purpose of the court may not be clear
Legal jargon
Confrontational tone
Face-to-face with accused
Need to repeat distressing/embarrassing evidence
No support for child in distress
How can we protect & help children while also protecting the rights of the accused?
Reduce delays in proceedings
Preparation for court appearances
Child friendly spaces around court
Appear by video-link
Pretrial recordings of interviews
Training personnel to use appropriate language
What 2 types of memory are there?
Passive - watching a movie and recounting it a week later
Deliberate - studying for a test
What are children's language limitations?
Receptive language - not being able to understand the questions asked
Vocab - unfamiliar words important to the case
Grammar - can't understand passive voice (children acquire these language skills later)
Embedded clauses or phrases
How can this embedded question be improved?
"When the man who visited your house knocked on the door what did he say?"
1. "I want to ask you about the man who visited your house."
2. "When he knocked on the door, what did he say?"
What are common language limitations for interviewers?
1. Rapid switching of topic (need to announce new topic)
2. Long and complex sentences
3. Multiple questions with no opportunity to reply
4. Unclear references ("when did THAT happen?", "Were THEY there?")
Need to be clear and explicit!
What is comprehension monitoring? If someone asks a child a question, and they don't know what it means. Need to:
Identify the Problem (can be tricky)
Select appropriate strategy - admit they dont understand, ask question to be repeated
Social Emotional Skills - when a question is asked, a child feels expected to answer
In Saywitz's (1995) study, how did he train children to monitor and report lack of comprehension?
Trained to signal lack of comprehension (asked them silly questions)
Train to stand up to adults
What 3 conditions (groups) were used in Saywitz' study?
1. No intervention
2. Simple Instruction ("tell me if you don't understand")
3. Comprehension Monitoring Strategy Training
How did the training in Saywitz's study affect the children?
Indicated lack of comprehension
Asked for rephrasing