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Criminal Psychology Unit 34 BTEC Forensic Science - help?!!!

Discussion in 'Social sciences' started by klutzqueen, Dec 2, 2010.

  1. Hi all,
    I'm a psych/socio teacher (usually A level) but am doing a unit on "Criminal Psychology" for the BTEC forensic science.
    As of yet, there is no textbook that I know of for my unit, so have been cobbling together stuff as I go!
    One bit I am stuck on however - for a merit, the students need to link psychological research to the sentencing and jury decision making process. I understand that conformity etc would explain why juries may feel pressured to all agree, and I understand how research into anger management training etc may affect sentencing.
    BUT, am struggling as to how research in these areas have changed policies/aspects of the criminal justice system!
    I've done a ton of background reading, but the links seem hazy in my mind and not obvious.
    If anyone knows what the heck I'm on about, I'd be grateful if it could be explained to me! [​IMG]
  2. Hi Debbie.
    Not entirely sure what's going to be relevant as I don't know the spec. There are four probable lines into it: (1) research directly into jury processes; (2) research that has influenced what is/can be put before a jury and the instructions they are given with regard to it; (3) research that may be drawn on by psychologists appearing as expert witnesses in relation to some aspect of a case; and (4) research that has supported the overturning of jury decisions by higher courts. These areas are obviously overlapping. Some possible avenues are:
    • Research into post-event contamination that led to uncorroborated witness testimony being treated with caution by courts (Devlin Report; all the Loftus and associated research).
    • Research into witness recall and suspect identification (e.g. ID parades) which has led to practical advice for reducing false identifications (e.g. Bruce, 1988; Cutler & Penrod, 1995).
    • Cognitive interview techniques to improve richness and accuracy of testimony (e.g. Geiselman, 1985; Fisher et al, 1990).
    • Research into the use of forensic hypnosis that led to its being ruled inadmissible in many courts (e.g. Putnam, 1979; Gudjonsson, 1992).
    • Research into persuasive communication that has been exploited by lawyers in adversarial systems (e.g. Hovland & Yanis, 1959; Aronson et al, 1997)
    • Research into jury size and jury selection methods which has affected jury trials where some sort of voir dire system is in place (e.g. Saks, 1977; Kassin & Wrightsman, 1983).
    • Research into the effects of pre-trial publicity on jury decisions *may* inform some reporting restrictions (e.g. Padawer-Singer & Barton, 1974; Moran & Cutler, 1991).
    • Research into the accuracy of child witnesses *may* inform the treatment of child testimony by courts (e.g. Tully & Tam, 1987; Jone & McGraw, 1987).
    • Research into false confessions (esp. in light of miscarriages of justice; Gudjonsson, 1992 is a classic on this).
    Hope that helps.


  3. Aidan - as always, you're a star! Thank you!
    I had a couple of these points in my head (but undeveloped) so you've really given me something to go on, as well as some other points I hadn't even thought of! And believe me, I've done a LOT of background reading!

    Thank you so much for taking the time to reply. It's much appreciated!
  4. Aidan
    An impressive reply![​IMG]

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