Forensic Psychology

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Forensic psychology, also known as criminal forensic psychology and investigative psychology, is a moderately new sub-field of psychology and forensics that comprise of licensed psychologists that have an essential grasp of forensic, clinical, and legal systems. The American Psychological Association (APA) reports that “forensic psychology refers to professional practice by any psychologist working within any sub-discipline of psychology (e.g., clinical, developmental, social, cognitive) when applying the scientific, technical, or specialized knowledge of psychology to the law to assist in addressing legal, contractual, and administrative matters (1).” Forensic psychologists are involved in “all matters in which psychologists provide expertise…show more content…
However, the history goes back to 1892 when Hugo Munsterberg conducted experiments at Harvard University on the many ways in which psychology could benefit the legal system by doing research and experiments on witness memory, false confession, and hypnosis in the courtroom. In 1895, James McKeen Cattell, a professor at Columbia University also conducted many experiments (later replicated by Alfred Binet) that are today deemed the starting point of forensic psychology. Later in 1916 a Stanford psychologist named Lewis Termen began applying psychology to law enforcement by applying the new Stanford-Binet intelligence test to evaluate potential candidates for law enforcement positions paving the way for future assessments. A year later in 1917, psychologist William Marston made a break though that lead to the design of the modern polygraph detector by recognizing the correlation between lying and systolic blood pressure. Furthermore, according to an article called An Overview of Forensic Psychology, by Kendra Cherry, “Marston testified in 1923 in the case of Frye vs. United States … establish[ing] the precedent for the use of expert witnesses in courts. The Federal Court of Appeals determined that a procedure,…show more content…
Individuals in this field can apply psychology to the criminal justice system by advising police and lawyers on mental illness and criminal psychology. They commonly assess matters such as the competency of individuals to stand trial, consistency of factual information across multiple sources, offenders’ state of mind at time of offense, risk of re-offending, witness credibility, deciding whether juvenile defendants should be tried as adults, offer sentencing recommendations, provide an assessment of juvenile and adult offenders, and fitness for duty assessments. They may also conduct evaluations on child custody in divorce, visitation risk assessments, and other custody disputes, or psychological evaluations diagnosing mental illnesses establishing whether a person should be committed to a mental hospital. In many cases, they may consult with attorneys on mental health issues in the court system, legal or administrative professionals, in civil lawsuits, insurance claims, compile official reports or amicus briefs for court, prepare for and provide testimony in court, serve as an expert witness in trials, provide second opinions, or helping in jury selection. Forensic psychologists may also coordinate with various legal and medical personnel;
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