Psychology and Law: An Empirical Perspective

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From the initial investigation of a crime to the sentencing of an offender, a wide range of practices within the criminal justice system draw on psychological knowledge. In this book, prominent cognitive and social psychology researchers analyze the processes involved in such tasks as interviewing witnesses, detecting deception, and eliciting eyewitness reports and identification from adults and children. Also analyzed are factors that influence decision making by jurors and judges, including the persuasive strategies used by lawyers. Throughout, findings from experimental research are translated into clear recommendations for improving the quality of evidence and the fairness of investigative and legal proceedings. The book also addresses salient methodological questions and identifies key directions for future investigation.
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Editorial Reviews

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Nicholas Greco IV, MS, BCETS, CATSM (Columbia College of Missouri)
Description: This book is an extensive exploration into the wide range of interrelated topics that both psychology and the law share such as deception detection, eyewitness identification, interrogation/interviews, and jury selection.
Purpose: The purpose is to illustrate the numerous theoretical advances in experimental psychology and their applicability, highlighting the methodological difficulties applied researchers face, and demonstrate how experimental research, when carefully designed and controlled, can make substantial contributions to the field. This book is full of empirical research which highlights the interplay and effect on the criminal justice system. The book exceeds the author's and contributing authors' objectives.
Audience: Clearly, psychologists, lawyers, and psychiatrists would benefit from this book because it is not a legal text, does not take a clinical-forensic perspective, nor does it discuss offender assessment and management. The book simply examines how psychological science can be applied to the issues and within the criminal justice system. The contributing authors and editors are credible authorities in the field.
Features: There are a number of great chapters in this book and, of course, the chapters on eyewitness recall, eyewitness identification, and false memories (Loftus) are always controversial and make for thoroughly enjoyable reading. Readers will be hard pressed to put down the book when reading the chapter on deception detection. The concluding chapter attempts to address the factors which may stand in the way of collaboration between psychology and the legal system.
Assessment: This is a strong, intermediate level of knowledge book with a well-supported base of empirical research to back up the topics discussed. Well-recommended!
From the Publisher

"A particularly welcome addition to the field. This volume offers the most comprehensive coverage to date of the empirical approach to the study of psychology and law. Brewer and Williams have assembled an international roster of some of the very best researchers, and the resulting book not only provides a complete review of the literature, but also yields perspectives and applications that are important and insightful. While I hesitate to highlight any particular chapter, the Wells chapter on how to influence social policy and Kerr and Bray's vigorous defense of laboratory-based research both deserve special mention. Psychology and Law is a valuable resource for researchers and will most assuredly serve as the state-of-the-art text for both undergraduate- and graduate-level courses."--Irwin A. Horowitz, PhD, Department of Psychology, Oregon State University

"Psychology and Law is at once a lively and spritely read and a very up-to-date review of the major areas of forensic psychology. Despite my usual skepticism about edited volumes, this one is really terrific! It comprises consistently high-quality, rock-solid chapters by accomplished researchers in each area. This volume could be used very effectively in psychology and law courses at both the advanced undergraduate and graduate levels."--Stephen J. Ceci, PhD, Department of Human Development, Cornell University

"This book brings recent developments in psychological science to bear on the criminal justice system. Featuring an impressive array of chapters written by leading experts, it spans such core topics as police interviewing, deception detection, trial tactics, pretrial publicity, jury decision making, sentencing, eyewitness identifications, child witness testimony, and other aspects of law. At a time when it is necessary to separate the science from the junk, this book will serve as an invaluable resource for psychology students, criminal justice students, researchers, and legal professionals."--Saul Kassin, PhD, Department of Psychology, Williams College


"A valuable contribution....An exceptional volume to have and to use as a reference."--PsycCRITIQUES

4 Stars! from Doody
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593851224
  • Publisher: Guilford Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/22/2005
  • Pages: 516
  • Product dimensions: 6.46 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.16 (d)

Meet the Author

Neil Brewer, PhD, is Professor of Psychology at Flinders University in South Australia, where he teaches an upper-level undergraduate course on experimental psychology and law. The research programs in his laboratory span both cognitive and social psychology, focusing on issues such as confidence-accuracy and decision time-accuracy relationships in eyewitness identification, identification decision processes, eyewitness recall, eyewitness confidence effects on juror judgments, and improving comprehension of judicial instructions. Dr. Brewer's recent publications include articles in Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Law and Human Behavior, and Applied Cognitive Psychology. He is a current member of the editorial boards of Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied and Legal and Criminological Psychology.

Kipling D. Williams, PhD, is Professor of Psychological Sciences at Purdue University. He is an experimental social psychologist and teaches undergraduate courses on psychology and law. Dr. Williams has conducted research on various topics focusing on psychology and law, including the biasing effects of judges' instructions, eyewitness accuracy and testimony, stealing thunder as a courtroom tactic, homonymic priming, and the effects of crime heinousness on lowering thresholds of beyond a reasonable doubt. He has also conducted research on social loafing and, more recently, on ostracism. His recent publications include articles in Science,  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, and Law and Human Behavior. He is also author of Ostracism: The Power of Silence and coeditor of several social psychology books, including The Social Outcast: Ostracism, Social Exclusion, Rejection, and Bullying.

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Table of Contents

1. Psychology and Law Research: An Overview, Neil Brewer, Kipling D. Williams, and Carolyn Semmler
2. Investigative Interviewing, Martine B. Powell, Ronald P. Fisher, and Rebecca Wright
3. Deception Detection, Pär Anders Granhag and Aldert Vrij
4. Eyewitness Recall and Testimony, Ainat Pansky, Asher Koriat, and Morris Goldsmith
5. Children's Recall and Testimony, Jason J. Dickinson, Debra A. Poole, and Rachel L. Laimon
6. Eyewitness Identification, Neil Brewer, Nathan Weber, and Carolyn Semmler
7. False Memories, Matthew P. Gerrie, Maryanne Garry, and Elizabeth F. Loftus
8. Pretrial Publicity and Its Influence on Juror Decision Making, Christina A. Studebaker and Steven D. Penrod
9. Trial Strategy and Tactics, Kipling D. Williams and Andrew Jones
10. Simulation, Realism, and the Study of the Jury, Norbert L. Kerr and Robert M. Bray
11. The Psychology of Jury and Juror Decision Making, Lora M. Levett, Erin M. Danielsen, Margaret Bull Kovera, and Brian L. Cutler
12. The Comprehension of Judicial Instructions, James R. P. Ogloff and V. Gordon Rose
13. Dealing with the Guilty Offender, Jane Goodman-Delahunty, Lynne ForsterLee, and Robert ForsterLee
14. Helping Experimental Psychology Affect Legal Policy, Gary L. Wells
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