Purpose. Previous experiments have demonstrated asymmetrical scepticism in investigators' judgments of criminal evidence – evidence inconsistent (vs. consistent) with the dominant hypothesis about a case is judged as less reliable. In addition, some types of evidence (e.g., witness testimony) are more susceptible to asymmetrical scepticism than others (e.g., DNA evidence), indicating varying degrees of elasticity. This article proposes that inconsistent evidence arouses cognitive dissonance, and that the dissonance can be reduced through either asymmetrical scepticism (for high-elasticity evidence) or belief change (for low-elasticity evidence). The hypotheses are tested in two experiments.Methods. In both experiments, law students made a preliminary judgment about the guilt of a suspect in a homicide case, and subsequently received a piece of DNA or witness evidence which was either consistent or inconsistent with the preliminary judgment. The extent to which participants changed their guilt judgments, judged the additional evidence as reliable, and felt dissonance served as the main dependent variables.Results. Inconsistent (vs. consistent) evidence did arouse stronger dissonance, but only for witness (and not DNA) evidence. Experienced dissonance (Experiment 1) and dissonance reduction (Experiment 2) accounted for the effect of the evidence on changes in guilt judgments, but not for the effect on reliability judgments. The greatest dissonance reduction was observed among participants who received inconsistent witness evidence but did not change their guilt judgments accordingly.Conclusions. It appears that dissonance plays a significant, although complex, role in investigative judgments of guilt and reliability. Alternative dissonance-reducing mechanisms that can account for the findings and practical implications are discussed.
Purpose. The goal of the present research was to develop a screening measure to assist in identifying offenders at risk for drop-out or expulsion from correctional programmes.Methods. Non-Aboriginal male offenders (N = 5,247) were randomly divided into a development sample (N = 2,617) and a validation sample (N = 2,630). In the development sample, individual predictors were identified through univariate and multivariate analyses, weighted based on their relationship with drop-out/expulsion, and combined into a composite measure we called the drop-out risk screen (DRS).Results. The DRS consists of five items, including static and dynamic risk factors for recidivism as well as motivation for intervention. It significantly predicted drop-out/expulsion in the development sample (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve [AUC]= .72) and performed similarly in the validation sample (AUC = .70).Conclusions. The results indicate that the DRS is a valid screening instrument for risk of drop-out/expulsion. Prior to commencement of a treatment programme, offenders with high scores on the DRS could be more thoroughly assessed and, if necessary, targeted with pre-treatment efforts to increase their motivation and general readiness for treatment.
Purpose. The Gudjonsson Suggestibility Scale (GSS; Gudjonsson, 1984, 1997) is a well-established forensic tool for measuring interrogative suggestibility. However, one restriction of this tool is that it requires an extensive testing procedure. The present study examined whether shorter versions of the GSS yield similar results as the original GSS procedure.Methods. One group (N=20) was given a shortened version of the GSS that consisted of an immediate recall test and the specific questions. GSS scores in this group were compared with those in a group (N=20) that had the standard procedure which includes a retention interval and immediate and delayed recall tests. A third group (N=20) was administered a shortened procedure in which the 20 GSS questions immediately followed the GSS story. In the fourth group (N=20), participants were given the retention interval, but no recall tests were administered.Results. ANOVA showed no differences in GSS scores amongst the four groups. Post hoc power analyses indicated that these non-significant findings were not the result of a power problem and that larger sample sizes are expected to yield comparable results. Further analyses showed that neither the retention delay nor the recall tests affected suggestibility scores.Conclusions. These results suggest that shortened procedures for administering the GSS may be employed in situations where time is a key factor.
Purpose: Large changes in the visual field often go undetected, an effect referred to as change blindness. We investigated change blindness for an eyewitness event to examine its potential influence on identification accuracy and confidence.
Methods: Participants viewed a video that started with an innocent person walking through a building and finished with another person committing a theft. Participants subsequently attempted the thief's identification from a line-up that contained either the thief or the innocent person from the video.
Results: Most viewers (64%) experienced change blindness and were unaware of the person change. Overall identification accuracy in the change blindness group was significantly lower than in the change detection group. The decrease in accuracy in the change blindness group was primarily driven by poor performance when the line-up did not contain the thief. However, rather than misidentifying the innocent from the video, most witnesses who experienced change blindness misidentified a filler. Although change detection did not lead to a significant increase in correct identifications, it did lead to a significant increase in post-identification confidence.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that (1) although change blindness increases misidentifications, under these conditions witnesses primarily misidentify known innocents who are not at risk of wrongful conviction; and (2) confidence is inferred not only from recognition strength but also from how well observers believe the event was encoded.
PurposeAlibis are critical components of innocent suspects' efforts to prove their innocence. However, they can often be inaccurate. Two experiments explored factors influencing innocent alibi generation. Experiment 1 tested the effect of retrieval cue (time vs. location vs. paired time and location) on report accuracy and schema reliance. Experiment 2 tested the effect of the schema consistency of critical whereabouts (consistent vs. inconsistent) on alibi accuracy and schema reliance. Methods
Both experiments used the same paradigm: Participants engaged in a critical event (two events in Experiment 2), then participated in an ostensibly unrelated study occurring roughly 1 week later. During this unrelated study (in reality, the alibi generating portion of this study), participants were interviewed about their whereabouts for various times during the previous week (including the times of the critical events). Alibis were scored for accuracy and schema consistency. ResultsIn Experiment 1, a time cue and a paired time and location cue yielded lower rates of accuracy than did a location cue. Cues including a time referent yielded high rates of schema reliance. In Experiment 2, accuracy was lower when whereabouts were schema inconsistent than when they were schema consistent. Confidence was high across conditions, irrespective of accuracy. Conclusion
Time cuing appears to elicit schema reliance when generating alibis. Schema retrieval may inflate confidence in accuracy; thus, schema reliance may lead to inaccurate reporting, particularly when critical whereabouts are atypical.
Purpose. The study extends research by Santtila et al. (2008) by investigating the effectiveness of linking cases of serial homicide using behavioural patterns of offenders, analysed through Bayesian reasoning. The study also investigates the informative value of individual behavioural variables in the linking process. Methods. Offender behaviour was coded from official documents relating to 116 solved homicide cases belonging to 19 separate series. The basis of the linkage analyses was 92 behaviours coded as present or absent in the case based on investigator observations on the crime scene. We developed a Bayesian method for linking crime cases and judged its accuracy using cross-validation. We explored the information added by individual behavioural variables, first, by testing if the variable represented purely noise with respect to classification, and second, by excluding variables from the original model, one by one, by choosing the behaviour that had the smallest effect on classification accuracy. Results. The model achieved a classification accuracy of 83.6% whereas chance expectancy was 5.3%. In simulated scenarios of only one and two known cases in a series, the accuracy was 59.0 and 69.2%, respectively. No behavioural variable represented pure noise but the same level of accuracy was achieved by analysing a set of 15, as analysing all 92 variables. Conclusion. The study illustrates the utility of analysing individual behavioural variables through Bayesian reasoning for crime linking. Feasible applied use of the approach is illustrated by the effectiveness of analysing a small set of carefully chosen variables.
PurposeTwo experiments were conducted to examine the effects of (1) child victims’ emotional expression during testimony and (2) the camera perspective used to record the testimony, on judgements of credibility. Methods
Law students (N = 155 in Experiment 1; N = 86 in Experiment 2) watched a child harassment complainant provide a statement in an emotional or neutral manner, presented using different camera perspectives: balanced focus (i.e., a shot portraying an equal focus on the child complainant and the interviewer) versus picture-in-picture (PiP; i.e., a shot portraying only the child with an inset window depicting both the child and the interviewer in the corner of the screen) in Experiment 1 and PiP versus child focus (i.e., a shot depicting only the child) in Experiment 2. ResultsAlthough no effect was found for camera perspective, the results provide support for an emotional victim effect (EVE); the child was perceived as more credible and truthful when communicating the statement in an emotional (vs. neutral) manner. Moreover, the results provide corroborating evidence for the assumption that the EVE rests on both cognitive (expectancy confirmation) and affective (compassion) mechanisms. Conclusions
These findings extend previous research by showing that the EVE and its underlying mechanisms apply to judgements of child complainants in the context of non-sexual crimes and appear to be robust against variations of camera perspectives. Legal implications are discussed.
The ethics of forensic professionalism is often couched in terms of competing individual and societal values. Indeed, the welfare of individuals is often secondary to the requirements of society, especially given the public nature of courts of law, forensic hospitals, jails, and prisons. We explore the weaknesses of this dichotomous approach to forensic ethics, offering an analysis of Psychology's historical narrative especially relevant to the national security and correctional settings. We contend that a richer, more robust ethical analysis is available if practitioners consider the multiple perspectives in the forensic encounter, and acknowledge the multiple influences of personal, professional, and social values. The setting, context, or role is not sufficient to determine the ethics of forensic practice.
Research assessing violent extremist risk factors thus far largely ignored the role of cognitive processes. Zmigrod and colleagues (2019a) addressed this gap and presented first systematic evidence that lower levels of cognitive flexibility predict a higher willingness to fight and, ultimately, die for a national ingroup. This finding has important theoretical and practical implications. In order to strengthen the potential contribution of Zmigrod et al.’s work, we will conduct a registered direct replication of Study 1. Extending the original study, we further examine whether the documented relationship still holds when a self‐report measure for cognitive flexibility is introduced and when analyses control for identity fusion. We also investigate if cognitive inflexibility solely predicts violent or also normative pro‐group behaviour intentions. Following Zmigrod, Rentfrow, and Robbins (2019a), we will administer a cross‐sectional survey study. Participants (N = 1,378) report their willingness to fight, die, and sacrifice themselves for the ingroup and complete the Remote Associates as well as Wisconsin Card Sorting tests. Afterwards, additional measures of self‐reported cognitive flexibility, identity fusion, and normative pro‐group behaviour are assessed. To be completed. To be completed.
Bayes factors provide a continuous measure of evidence for one hypothesis (e.g., the null, H0) relative to another (e.g., the alternative, H1). Warmelink et al . (2019, Legal Criminol Psychol , 24 , 258) reported Bayes factors alongside p‐values to draw inferences about whether the order of expected versus unexpected questions influenced the amount of details interviewees provided during an interview. Mac Giolla & Ly (2019) provided several recommendations to improve the reporting of Bayesian analyses and used Warmelink et al . (2019) as a concrete example. These included (I) not to over‐rely on cut‐offs when interpreting Bayes factors; (II) to rely less on Bayes factors, and switch to ‘nominal support’; and (III) to report the posterior distribution. This paper elaborates on their recommendations and provides two further suggestions for improvement. First, we recommend deception researchers report Robustness Regions to demonstrate the sensitivity of their conclusions to the model of H1 used. Second, we demonstrate a method that deception researchers can use to estimate, a priori, the sample size likely to be required to provide conclusive evidence.
Zmigrod et al. (2019a, Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 989) demonstrated that lower levels of cognitive flexibility predict a higher willingness to fight and die for the national in‐group. We conducted a registered direct replication of their Study 1. Extending the original study, we examined whether the documented relationship held when a self‐report measure for cognitive flexibility was introduced and when identity fusion was controlled for. We also investigated whether cognitive inflexibility predicts normative pro‐group behaviour intentions. Participants (N = 1378) reported in a cross‐sectional survey study their willingness to fight, die and sacrifice themselves for the in‐group and completed the Remote Associates (RAT) as and Wisconsin Card Sorting (WCST) tests. Afterwards, self‐reported cognitive flexibility, identity fusion and normative pro‐group behaviour intentions were assessed. Results showed a small negative relationship between RAT accuracy rates and willingness to fight and die. WCST accuracy rates were positively related with willingness to die but not correlated with willingness to fight. Self‐report measures of cognitive flexibility were partially positively and partially negatively associated with support for violent extremism. There was further evidence that lower cognitive flexibility predicts higher normative pro‐group behaviour intentions. A mini meta‐analysis, which synthesized findings from the original study and our replication, demonstrated a relatively small negative correlation between cognitive flexibility and support for violent extremism. In summary, even though not all individual results could be replicated, we confirmed the overall conclusion of the original study: lower cognitive flexibility predicted stronger willingness to fight and die for an in‐group. The findings highlight that it is important to integrate cognitive style in multi‐level frameworks of risk factors of violent extremism. Additionally, our results point out that the validity of different measures of cognitive flexibility, including self‐report tools, must be further examined. Future research that evaluates cognitive flexibility training in the context of CVE/PVE interventions is also encouraged.
The excellent target article raises much food for thought. In this commentary we first discuss what is included in their proposed category of ‘positive evaluations and responses to police assertions of power to attempt social influence’. We then consider some of the implications of the concentric diagram for our understanding of police authority and power.
Previous research demonstrates an association between developmental language disorder (DLD) and criminal offending. International research also implicates alexithymia as being over‐represented in forensic samples. This study provides a comprehensive examination of the psycholinguistic and socioemotional profiles of males and females in the youth justice system, with a focus on first‐time entrants. In the context of restorative justice (RJ) underpinning youth justice disposals, this allows for informed intervention and identifies those who may be compromised in their ability to effectively engage in certain interventions.
Participants (N = 145) from a triage centre and youth offending teams, with a mean age of 15.8, completed a range of standardized psycholinguistic assessments considering non‐verbal IQ, expressive and receptive language measures, and literacy. Additionally, socioemotional measures completed included The Alexithymia Scale and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire.
Developmental language disorder was present in 87 participants. Except for the emotional score, no statistically significant gender differences were found. The mean language scores for the DLD group were more than 2.25 standard deviations below the normative mean, and they demonstrated greater literacy difficulties. A high proportion of the group met the criteria for alexithymia/possible alexithymia (60%), and this was not associated with DLD.
High prevalence values for DLD and socioemotional difficulties, not generally gender‐specific, were found. These difficulties have the possibility to compromise a young person's ability to engage in rehabilitative strategies. Language assessment and identification of difficulties, especially DLD, upon entry to the youth justice service, would assist when planning interventions.
Impaired emotional learning is one of the hallmark features of psychopathy. The abnormal processing of cues of reward and punishment, and its impact in decision‐making, has mostly been supported by laboratorial studies. In this report, we have analysed the effect of psychopathy in the formation of attitudes towards committing theft, and its impact in the intention to reoffend after release.
A self‐report instrument to characterize the predictors of the intention to reoffend was developed and administrated, along with the Triarchic Psychopathy Measure, to a sample of 91 male inmates convicted for theft.
The perceived rewards of theft mediated the association between psychopathic traits and the intention to reoffend. The analysis of the expectancy and value components of the attitude towards theft showed that psychopathic traits are associated with reduced expectancy of negative outcomes and increased expectancy of positive outcomes as a consequence of reoffending.
Our results add support to the role of disrupted expectancy–value learning and increased reward sensitivity as mediators of the increased probability to reoffend in psychopathy.
Prosecutors working with child sexual abuse (CSA) cases involving young children have raised concerns that reliability criteria from the Supreme Court of Sweden are holding children's testimony to impossible standards (e.g., expecting the child's testimony to be long, rich in detail and spontaneous). This study aimed to address these concerns by investigating how District Courts and Courts of Appeal employ said criteria in their testimonial assessments of young child complainants. Court documents from District Courts (n = 100) and Courts of Appeal (n = 45) in CSA cases involving 100 children age 7 years and under were analysed with respect to the courts’ testimonial assessments. Testimonial assessments were more frequently referenced in acquitting verdicts and in cases with evidence of low corroborative value. Richness in detail was the most frequently used reliability criterion, followed by spontaneity. Most criteria were used in favour of the children's testimony. However, the length criterion was typically used against the reliability of the children's testimony. Our findings confirm prosecutors’ concerns that criteria from the Supreme Court are frequently used in evaluations of young children's testimony. This is troublesome, as some criteria do not correspond to current research on young children's witness abilities. For example, compared to testimony given by older children or adults, testimony provided by a young child is typically not long or rich in detail. We encourage prosecutors to extend their own knowledge on young children's capability as witnesses and present this to the court.
In recognition of the vulnerable situation that children and adolescents face as victims of sexual crimes, this research, the first of its kind in Latin America, studies the magnitude and characteristics of revictimization through child sexual abuse. This study aimed to provide current statistics on revictimization through child sexual abuse in Chile. The study draws from a sample of 18,006 children and adolescent victims of sexual crimes. It examines cases reported in 2012 throughout Chile and encompasses all additional reports of sexual victimization filed by the same victims through January 2015. Information taken from the criminal case (SAF) database provided by the Chilean Prosecutor’s Office, and from National Service for Minors (Servicio Nacional de Menores, SENAME). 12.2% of victims in the sample filed a new report during the period studied, on average 254 days after the first event was filed. In 40.1% of the cases, the perpetrator in the second case was the same as in the original victimization; however, in 59.9% of cases the perpetrator was a different person. Revictimization by the original perpetrator generally occurs sooner, within half of the time reported for a revictimization by a new perpetrator. The frequency of revictimization in child sexual abuse is similar to that seen in other regions but occurs within shorter time frames than those reported globally.
Research has shown that confirmation bias plays a role in legal and forensic decision‐making processes and, more specifically, child interviews. However, previous studies often examine confirmation bias in child interviews using non‐abuse‐related events. We enrich the literature by examining interviewers’ behaviours in simulated child sexual abuse (CSA) cases. In the present study, we used data from a series of experiments in which participants interviewed child avatars to examine how an assumption of abuse based on preliminary information influenced decision‐making and interviewing style. Interview training data (N interview = 2084) from eight studies with students, psychologists and police officers (N = 377) were included in the analyses. We found that interviewers’ preliminary assumption of sexual abuse having taken place predicted 1) a conclusion of abuse by the interviewers after the interview; 2) higher confidence in their judgement; 3) more frequent use of not recommended question types and 4) a decreased likelihood of reaching a correct conclusion given the same number of available relevant details. The importance of considering how preliminary assumptions of abuse affect interview behaviour and outcomes and the implications for the training of investigative interviewers were discussed.
There is limited research examining stalking among adolescents. This study investigates adolescent stalking following an intimate relationship, or post‐relationship stalking (PRS), potential links with youth intimate partner abuse (YIPA) during the relationship, and examines psychological processes hypothesised to be associated with perpetrating PRS. Four hundred and twenty‐three participants aged between 14–18 years were recruited from Australian secondary schools, with a subsample of 205 who reported on experiences of YIPA and PRS used in this study. Results showed that PRS was prevalent, with 19% (n = 33) reporting victimisation and 18% (n = 31) perpetration. Significant relationships were found between the experience of PRS and prior YIPA victimisation. Rumination about relationships was significantly related to PRS perpetration. These findings add to the small body of literature on adolescent stalking and emphasise the need for more research into this phenomenon in order to guide developmentally appropriate prevention and intervention strategies.
Previous research has demonstrated that attorney question format relates to child witness' response productivity. However, little work has examined the relations between the extent to which attorneys provide temporal structure in their questions, and the effects of this structure on children's responding. The purpose of the present study was to address this gap in the literature in order to identify methods by which attorneys increase children's response productivity on the stand without risking objections from opposing counsel for "calling for narrative answers".
In the present study we coded criminal court transcripts involving child witnesses (5-18 years) for narrative structure in attorney questions and productivity in children's responses. Half of the transcripts resulted in convictions, half in acquittals, balanced across key variables: child age, allegation severity, the child's relationship to the perpetrator, and the number of allegations.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys varied substantially in their questioning tactics. Prosecutors used more temporal structure in their questions and varied their questioning by the age of the child. These variations had implications for children's response productivity.
Results indicate that temporal structure is a novel and viable method for enhancing children's production of case-relevant details on the witness stand.
When people migrate to new cultures, they adapt to their new culture while at the same time retaining the norms of their original culture. The phenomenon whereby migrants adapt to the cultural norms of a host culture has been referred to as acculturation . Using a mock witness paradigm, we examined the acculturation effect in the eyewitness memory reports of sub‐Saharan African migrants in Western Europe.
We sampled sub‐Saharan African migrants in Western Europe, as well as sub‐Saharan Africans living in Africa as a control group (total N = 107). The mock witnesses were shown stimuli scenes of crimes in African and Western European settings and provided free and cued recall reports about what they had seen.
Central details were reported more than contextual details by both groups of sub‐Saharan Africans. Relative to the control group of sub‐Saharan Africans living in Africa, sub‐Saharan African migrants in Western Europe provided more correct central details in free recall. The longer migrants had resided in Western Europe, the less collectivistic they become. Migrants also provided more elaborate reports the longer their duration of residence in Western Europe.
The findings of the current research suggest the new cultural environment of migrants impact their cultural norms, which may have implications for their eyewitness memory reports.
Detecting deviant behaviours that precede and are related to crimes can help prevent these crimes. Research suggests that the psychological mindset of wrongdoers may differ from others, such that they are more anxious, self-focussed, and vigilant. As a result, their responses to environmental cues, specifically those that signal risk of exposure, may differ. In two randomized controlled trials, participants with high (vs. low) cognitive load walked a pre-defined route to carry out a hostile or non-hostile task. En route, participants were exposed to a strong (vs. mild) cue from a security officer (Study 1), or a cue (vs. no cue) resembling police walkie-talkie static noise (Study 2). Participants filled out a questionnaire measuring psychological constructs. Reactions during the task were recorded and presented to independent observers to determine the participants’ intent. Participants with high (vs. low) cognitive load who were exposed to a strong (vs. mild or no) cue while carrying out their task were more often correctly identified by observers as either innocent or hostile based on their behaviour. Analysis of the questionnaire revealed that the experience of hostile intentions is related to anxiety, inhibitory control of anxiety, activation control of normal behaviour, and to other relevant constructs which may explain why cues that signal risk of exposure can improve the detection accuracy of individuals with hostile intentions. These studies show that cues that signal risk of exposure can improve the detection of wrongdoers and the role of self-regulation in the suppression of anxiety and deviant behaviours.
Two studies were conducted to assess of the accuracy of an indirect method used to detect lies about past behaviour and intentions.
In Experiment 1, participants (N = 123) assessed the veracity (direct condition) or cognitive effort (indirect condition) of interviewees who had planned or taken part in mock academic misconduct and then lied or told the truth about their intentions or past activities. In Experiment 2, 33 participants assessed the veracity of interviews on true and false intentions answering a direct question and three indirect questions.
As predicted, the indirect method was equally effective in detecting lies about past activities and intentions. The accuracy of this method was not reduced by asking direct and indirect questions together.
The experiments provided further evidence that the indirect method of detecting deception is accurate and can also be used to detect lies about intent.
The Response Time Concealed Information Test (RT‐CIT) can reveal when a person recognizes a relevant item among other irrelevant items, based on comparatively slower responses. Therefore, if a person is concealing knowledge about the relevance of this item (e.g., recognizing it as a murder weapon), this deception can be revealed. A recent study introduced additional ‘familiarity‐related fillers’, and these items substantially enhanced diagnostic efficiency in detecting autobiographical data. However, the generalizability of the efficiency of fillers to other scenarios remains an open question. We empirically investigated whether new importance‐related fillers enhanced diagnostic efficiency in an imaginary crime scenario. Two hundred and thirty‐nine volunteers participated in an independent samples experiment. Participants were asked to imagine either committing a crime (‘guilty’ group) or to imagine visiting a museum (‘innocent’ group). Then, all participants underwent RT‐CIT testing using either a standard single probe or an enhanced single probe (with importance‐related fillers) protocol. The enhanced RT‐CIT (with importance‐related fillers) showed high diagnostic efficiency (AUC = .810), and significantly outperformed the standard version (AUC = .562). Neither dropout rates nor exclusion criteria influenced this enhancement. Importance‐related fillers improve diagnostic efficiency when detecting episodic information using the RT‐CIT and seem to be useful in detecting knowledge in a wide range of scenarios.
To explore how reasons to lie impact upon the decision component of Activation‐Decision‐Construction‐Action Theory.
Specifically, the study looked at how beneficiary of the lie (self vs. another) and additional cost of lying (no cost vs. cost to self/other) might influence decisions to lie.
Ninety‐one undergraduate students read four hypothetical scenarios representing the four reasons to lie. They stated whether they would decide to tell the truth/lie for each scenario and also estimated the probability and valence of being believed, or not, if they did decide to tell the truth/lie. These estimations were inputted into the ADCAT formulae.
Higher expected values of truth‐telling only reduced likelihood to decide to lie when the lie benefitted another. Beneficiary of the lie and additional cost together did not moderate any of the relationships between the ADCAT variables and hypothetical decisions to lie. However, the additional cost (e.g., to self or another) was a significant predictor of anticipated lying behaviour. The more likely there was a cost to self or other, the less likely the participants were to decide to lie.
Weighing up the expected cost and benefits of truth‐telling and lying was associated with hypothetical decisions to lie or not. However, other variables, such as additional cost to self or another, should be considered in the ADCAT model to extend our understanding of this decision‐making process. Future research is required to investigate whether these relationships can be manipulated to promote honesty and deter deceit.
Purpose. In commenting on Youngs and Canter's (2011) study, Ward (2011) raises concerns about offenders’ personal narratives and their link to self-concepts and identity. His comments relate to explorations of personal life stories rather than the narratives of actual crimes that are the focus of Youngs and Canter's (2011) study. The elaboration of this different focus helps to allay many of Ward's (2011) concerns and reveals further possibilities for developing the narrative approach within forensic psychology.
Methods. The focus on offenders’ accounts of a particular crime allows the development of a standard pro forma, the Narrative Role Questionnaire (NRQ), which deals with the roles a person thinks they played when committing a crime. These roles act as a summary of the criminal's offence narrative. Multivariate analysis of the NRQ clarifies the specific narrative themes explored by Youngs and Canter (2011).
Results. The examination of the components of the NRQ indicates that offence narratives encapsulate many psychological processes including thinking styles, self-concepts, and affective components. This allows the four narrative themes identified by Youngs and Canter to provide the basis for rich hypotheses about the interaction between the dynamics of personal stories and identity. The four narratives of criminal action also offer a foundation for understanding the particular, detailed styles of offending action and the immediate, direct processes that act to instigate and shape these.
Conclusion. These developments in our understanding of offence narratives generate fruitful research questions that bridge the concerns of investigative and correctional applications of narrative theory.
Given that criminal offenders face employment discrimination (Ahmed & Lang, 2017, IZA Journal of Labor Policy, 6) and wrongly convicted individuals are stereotyped similarly to offenders (Clow & Leach, 2015, Legal and Criminological Psychology, 20, 147), we tested the hypothesis that exonerees – despite their innocence – face employment discrimination comparable to actual offenders.
Experienced hiring professionals (N = 82) evaluated a job application that was identical apart from the applicant's criminal history (i.e., offender, exoneree, or none).
As predicted, professionals formed more negative impressions of both the exoneree and offender – but unexpectedly, they stereotyped exonerees and offenders somewhat differently. Compared to the control applicant, professionals desired to contact more of the exoneree's references, and they offered the exoneree a lower wage.
Paradoxically, exonerees may be worse off than offenders to the extent that exonerees also face employment discrimination but have access to fewer resources. As the exoneree population continues to grow, research can and should inform policies and legislation in ways that will facilitate exonerees’ reintegration.
There is no doubt that racial biases contribute to the overrepresentation of people of colour in the justice system. Specialized violence risk tools are meant to increase the objectivity with which certain legal decisions are made. However, the degree to which racial biases influence risk‐related decisions remains unclear despite the use of these tools. This study examined whether a hypothetical defendant's race would influence the risk‐related perceptions and decisions of 280 jury‐eligible participants in the United States when presented with expert opinions concerning the defendant's likelihood of future violence. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions that varied the identified race of the defendant (i.e., Black, White, or not reported). Participants reported their perceptions about the defendant's likelihood of violence, desired social distance from the defendant, and the severity of punishment they would recommend. Contrary to hypotheses, there were no statistically significant effects of defendant race on risk decisions, suggesting that expert testimony may have mitigated the influence of race. However participants higher in explicit racial bias were more likely to perceive a Black defendant as higher risk; no association between racial attitudes and risk perception emerged in the other defendant conditions. Limitations and future directions for research, including methods for increasing external validity, assessing impression management, and diversifying demographics, are discussed. In the current socio‐political climate, it is imperative that forensic psychological research continue to explore the ways in which racial biases may lead to inequitable psycho‐legal decisions.
The success of missing person investigations often centres on the quality of information obtained in the early stages. Reliable information can not only inform the search but might also become vital evidence if the case broadens into a criminal investigation relating to a sexual offence, abduction, or even murder. In addition to eliciting high‐quality information, police officers must consider that those close to the missing person are likely going through a very difficult and stressful time. Across two studies, we developed and tested a self‐administered form (SAI‐MISSING) designed to obtain reliable information that would meaningfully inform a missing person investigation, as well as providing a means for family and friends to be actively involved.
In Experiment 1, 65 participants were tested individually and asked to provide a description of a person they knew well but had not seen for 24 hr. In the second study, 64 participants were tested in pairs, but immediately separated into different rooms and instructed to imagine that the person they came with has gone missing. In both studies, participants completed either the SAI‐MISSING tool, or a self‐administered control form.
In Experiment 1, we found that the SAI‐MISSING tool elicited significantly more information regarding physical descriptions and descriptions of clothing and personal effects, than the comparison control form. In Experiment 2, we replicated this finding and further showed that the SAI‐MISSING tool produced higher accuracy rates than the control form.
Given the positive outcomes, potential applications of the tool are discussed.
This study aimed to develop the Japanese online version of the Gudjonsson Suggestibility Scale 2 (GSS2). The effects of post‐warning and free recall on suggestibility were also examined.
A total of 442 people aged between 20 and 59 years took the Japanese online version of the GSS2, and their scores were compared with those obtained via administration of the Japanese standard version in a previous study and those of the British normative sample. The influence of post‐warning (a technique in which the participant is given an apology for the incorrect negative feedback provided on the first day) and free recall instruction on suggestibility was examined in 10 out of the 20 GSS test questions 2 days after the administration of the online GSS2.
There were no differences in Yield2, Shift, and Total suggestibility scored between the Japanese online and standard versions of the GSS2. The difference in Yield1 scores between the two versions was also small. However, there were significant differences between the Japanese online and British versions in all GSS scores other than Total suggestibility. Further, post‐warning and free recall effectively avoided an increased number of misled responses to leading questions.
The results obtained demonstrate the validity of the Japanese online version of the GSS2. It was also found that certain instructions could be used to prevent further response suggestibility when any misleading questions were provided.
Purpose. To examine the impact of admitting previous conviction evidence (PCE) on juror and jury deliberation. Major questions are: (1) Is there is an association between the inclusion of PCE and confidence in a defendant's guilt using a relatively rich trial simulation? (2) Does PCE invoke jurors’ considerations of fairness to the defendant? (3) Is heuristic processing (HP) associated with a prejudicial interpretation of evidence?
Methods. In experiment 1 (n= 82), individual jurors were asked to recall evidence, express opinion, and justify verdicts on the two counts of Affray and Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH). In experiment 2 (new n= 121), PCE information was emphasized and a jury deliberation condition was included.
Results. There was no simple association between admitting PCE and judgements of guilt. However, both interviews and jury deliberations indicated careful consideration of evidence. In particular, juror arguments showed that some were troubled by PCE, which they saw as unwarranted and therefore unfair to the defendant. Finally, HP was associated with both a prejudicial focus on the defendant's character and a higher confidence in guilt.
Conclusions. A simple link between PCE and judgements of guilt may only hold in relatively circumscribed experimental simulations. Results also indicate that the introduction of PCE is unlikely to aid evidence-based deliberation without careful testing of different forms of judges’ explanation concerning PCE.
We examined the additive and interactive effects of pre‐admonition suggestion and lineup instructions (biased or unbiased) on eyewitness identification rates. Participants watched a mock crime video, completed a target‐absent lineup identification, and completed a retrospective memory questionnaire. Prior to attempting an identification, participants were either exposed or not exposed to pre‐admonition suggestions and received biased or unbiased lineup instructions. The pre‐admonition suggestion indicated that it was likely that the perpetrator was in the lineup (surely, you can pick the perpetrator). The pre‐admonition suggestion increased false identification in the unbiased lineup condition. Furthermore, those who received the pre‐admonition suggestion were more certain in their identifications as well as other testimony‐relevant judgments than were those who did not receive the pre‐admonition suggestion. These results suggest that pre‐lineup suggestion can mitigate the beneficial effects of unbiased lineup instructions.
Purpose. Tattoos traditionally have been associated with criminality. This study investigates the possibility that children and adolescents may be more likely to associate tattooed than non-tattooed individuals with delinquent attributes. Method. Children aged 6 to 16 years were presented with a series of illustrations of three men (one of whom was tattooed), and in each case were requested to decide which individual best fitted a negative (delinquent), positive (prosocial) or neutral description. Results. Participants revealed a strong bias to associate the tattooed individuals with the negative attributes, but little tendency to associate them with the positive or neutral attributes. There was some evidence of an increase in the bias during middle childhood. Conclusions. Children appear to acquire by at least age 6 strong negative stereotypes of persons with tattoos. This has implications for children's performance as witnesses in certain contexts; it also indicates that young people electing to obtain tattoos are aware of the criminal stigma attached to this form of body marking.
Lower socio‐economic status (SES) and psychopathy are risk factors for criminal behaviour. This study examines whether psychopathic trait scores moderate the relationship between childhood family and neighbourhood SES and adult arrests. A large group of Midwest children ages 0–11 years old during 1967–1971 were interviewed as adults in 1989–1995 (N = 1144) at mean age 29. Childhood family SES was based on information collected during the interview and neighbourhood SES were based on census tract information from childhood. Psychopathic trait scores were based on information from interviews and case records. Official arrest data were used to assess criminal behaviour in adulthood. Childhood family SES, childhood neighbourhood SES, and psychopathic trait scores each independently predicted the number of adult arrests. As expected, lower childhood family SES and childhood neighbourhood SES predicted a larger number of adult arrests, and higher psychopathic trait scores were associated with a greater number of adult arrests. Childhood family SES and childhood neighbourhood SES also interacted with psychopathic trait scores to predict adult arrests. For individuals with low psychopathic trait scores, lower childhood family SES and lower childhood neighbourhood SES each predicted a higher number of adult arrests, whereas this was not the case for individuals with high psychopathic trait scores. Childhood SES (family and neighbourhood) continues to affect criminal behaviour long into adulthood. But neither childhood family SES, childhood neighbourhood SES, or psychopathic traits alone explain the extent of adult arrests. For people with comparably low levels of psychopathic traits, childhood family and neighbourhood socio‐economic status continued to impact adult arrests.
Previous research has revealed a strong association between moral disengagement (MD) and criminal behaviour. However, few studies have attempted to examine the contribution of dark personalities to MD. This study aims to first analyse the differences between forensic and community samples in the use of MD strategies and then replicate the factorial structure of the Dark Triad Dirty Dozen scale in an incarcerated sample as a pre‐condition to examine the relationship between dark triad (DT) traits (i.e. Machiavellianism, psychopathy and narcissism) and MD. The sample comprised 160 incarcerated and 160 community adults. Comparisons between these two groups demonstrate that the incarcerated sample scored higher in MD and DT than the community sample. Furthermore, different MD strategies were related to each of the DT traits in the forensic and community samples. The results of exploratory factor analysis for the incarcerated sample indicate adequate fit indices for a bifactorial model of the DT (a latent factor of the shared variance of these constructs named the global DT and three specific latent factors for each component of the DT). The SEM analysis for this bifactorial model and MD disclosed direct and significant relationships between the global DT and MD in the incarcerated adults, while the Machiavellianism factor was directly and significantly related to MD in the community adults. These results highlight the relevance of cognitive (i.e. MD) strategies in forensic contexts, especially in incarcerated adults who present high levels of this DT profile.
Most stalking studies have been conducted on Western samples. Little is known about victims of stalking and harassment outside the Western Hemisphere generally, and victim coping approaches have so far gone unexamined within populations of Asian victims.
Using a sample of 198 self‐reported victims of stalking or harassment drawn from a large sample of university students (N = 2,496) aged between 18 and 40, this study explores the incidence of these phenomena and the gendered distribution of different coping methods (i.e., avoidant, proactive, passive, compliance, and aggressive).
A total of 7.9% of respondents reported experience of stalking or harassment in their lifetime, and the incidence of various stalking behaviours is reported. In general, passive (or moving away) and avoidant (or moving inward) approaches were the most frequently reported victim coping approaches, while compliance (or moving towards or with) was the least employed coping strategy. Males were considerably more likely than females to employ compliance and aggressive coping strategies. Multivariate analyses indicate that females were less likely to adopt a proactive coping approach, while all victims were more likely to employ the aggressive, proactive, and compliance approaches if they had been targeted for more than a month.
These findings show that experiences of stalking or harassment were not uncommon among the sample and that the type of victim coping approach was in part influenced by victim demographics and by stalking dynamics.
Leading police scholars and practitioners were asked to reflect on the most urgent issues that need to be addressed on the topic of use of force. Four themes emerged from their contributions: use of force and de‐escalation training needs to improve and be evaluated; new ways of conceptualizing use of force encounters and better use of force response models need to be developed; the inequitable application of force, and how to remediate biases, needs to be more fully understood; and misconceptions about police use of force need to be identified and corrected. The highlighted topics serve as an agenda for future research. Such research should provide greater insight into when, where, and why force is used by police officers, and how it can be applied appropriately. If implemented, the practical recommendations included in the contributions should have a positive impact on police performance, public trust and confidence in the police, and citizen and officer safety.
Purpose. Interrogative suggestibility has been shown to vary according to cognitive and personality factors and if reliably measured may predict performance in real forensic interviews. It is therefore of both theoretical and practical interest to identify which psychological factors are most closely related to suggestible responding. This study examines the extent to which individual differences in negative emotional states predict performance on a measure of interrogative suggestibility and also tests the assumption that self-reports of negative life events are associated with suggestibility.
Method. A non-clinical sample (N= 80) of participants was administered the brief form of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS-21), the Life Experiences Survey (LES), and the Gudjonsson Suggestibility Scale (GSS-1).
Results. Negative emotional states were found to correlate positively, although moderately, with all of the suggestibility measures. Multiple regression analyses found significant predictive models emerged for Yield 1, Yield 2, and Total Suggestibility. Each of these predicted a small proportion of the variance. Negative life event impact ratings were not associated with interrogative suggestibility.
Conclusions. The findings suggest that brief self-report measures of negative emotional states are limited as predictors of interrogative suggestibility. The results also call into question the predictive utility of traditional checklist measures of life adversity for forensic purposes.
The aim of this study was to assess statement consistency in pairs of deceptive and truth‐telling suspects when the Devil's Advocate approach is implemented. This approach involves asking suspects an ‘opinion‐eliciting’ question for arguments that support their opinions followed by a ‘devil's advocate’ question to elicit opposing arguments. On the basis of the confirmation bias and impression management literatures, we predicted that truth‐telling pairs would provide more consistent arguments in response to the opinion‐eliciting question than to the devil's advocate question. Deceptive pairs were expected to be equally consistent with each other in response to both questions.
Forty‐nine pairs of participants were matched, based on their strong opinions about a controversial topic, and were asked to either tell the truth or lie about their opinions to an interviewer. Pair members were permitted to prepare for the interview together. Each participant was interviewed individually with the devil's advocate approach.
Prepared truth‐telling pairs were more consistent with each other in response to the opinion‐eliciting question than to the devil's advocate question. However, and as predicted, deceptive pairs were equally consistent with each other in response to both questions.
The Devil's Advocate approach seems to be a promising interview technique for assessing consistency among pairs who hold false opinions and pairs who hold true opinions. It also has implications for the consistency heuristic as consistency is not diagnostic of deception or honesty unless the interview technique is taken into consideration.
Little research exists on the influence of emotion in forensic settings. To start filling this gap, we used a hypothetical interrogation scenario to examine the effects of emotional state on judgement, decision making, and information‐processing style across two separate experiments.
The participants were induced a specific emotion. Then, they read a scenario where a suspect was arrested and rated (1) the suspect's guilt, and (2) the extent to which they would use a number of tactics to interview the suspect. Based on the feelings‐as‐information theory and cognitive‐appraisal theories of emotion, we predicted that relative to angry or happy participants, sad participants would be less inclined to judge the suspect as guilty (judgement), would show a stronger tendency to select benevolent interrogation tactics and a weaker tendency to select hostile interrogation tactics (decision making), and would be more likely to use an analytic (rather than a heuristic) processing style.
In Experiment 1 (conducted with college students), the judgement hypothesis was supported. In Experiment 2 (with mTurkers), the decision‐making hypothesis was supported. A meta‐analysis of the two experiments revealed that participants were more willing to select benevolent than hostile interrogation tactics and that, as predicted, sad participants were more willing than angry or happy participants to select benevolent tactics. However, emotion did not affect the participants’ tendency to select hostile tactics.
We tested emotion theories in an interrogation scenario. The significant results were consistent with the feelings‐as‐information and cognitive‐appraisal theories of emotion and have practical relevance.
Jurors’ religious characteristics are related to death penalty attitudes and verdicts. Jurors’ religious characteristics might also relate to endorsements of aggravating circumstances (aggravators) and mitigating circumstances (mitigators)—factors that make a defendant more or less deserving of the death penalty, respectively. The purpose of this research was to assess the extent to which religious fundamentalism was related to endorsement and weighing of aggravators and mitigators and subsequent death penalty decisions while controlling for relevant religious and demographic characteristics.
Two studies were conducted. Study 1 included a regression analysis in which participants filled out religious and demographic measures via an online survey. In Study 2, participants acted as mock jurors in a death penalty trial in which the defendant was already found guilty. Mock jurors read the case facts and attorney arguments and then weighed aggravators and mitigators before recommending a sentence for the defendant.
In Study 1, fundamentalism negatively predicted mitigator endorsement, intrinsic religiosity negatively predicted aggravator endorsement, and orthodoxy positively predicted aggravator endorsement. In Study 2, fundamentalism was related to death penalty sentences, and this was mediated by people's weighing of aggravators and mitigators. Specifically, fundamentalism was related to a lower likelihood of choosing a life sentence because fundamentalism was negatively related to weighing mitigators over aggravators.
Results support and explain prior research linking fundamentalism with punitiveness in death penalty cases. Such findings support the “eye for an eye” punishment philosophy associated with fundamentalist beliefs. Theoretical and legal implications are discussed.
The MacDonald triad is composed of three developmental markers, including cruelty to animals, firesetting, and enuresis after the age of 5. Although there has been considerable interest in this construct initially, research has produced inconsistent results regarding its validity in terms of distinguishing between offender and non‐offender populations, or predicting future offences. The current study investigated the links between the triad, dimensions of psychopathology, and trajectories of aggression in a sample of 254 rapists previously collected from a single forensic mental health institution in the United States. A retrospective temporal design was used to examine associations between variables in a sequence of ten offences. Latent structure analyses yielded a two‐class solution for the triad indicators, a five‐dimensional model for psychopathology and three trajectories for the aggression variables over a sequence of ten offences. Univariate analyses revealed that the class characterized primarily by a high prevalence of cruelty to animals and firesetting was associated with a higher level of antisocial and aggressive traits, as well as with a trajectory of offending featuring higher levels of expressive aggression, at least during the first few offences in the sequence. These associations were large and weak‐to‐moderate in magnitude, respectively. If replicated, these findings may suggest that a particular subgroup of sex offenders showing components of the triad are at particular risk of developing antisocial features, thus impacting the level of risk they pose to potential victims and the community.
When making judgements under uncertainty not only lay people but also professional judges often rely on heuristics like a numerical anchor (e.g., a numerical sentencing demand) to generate a numerical response. As the prosecution has the privilege to present its demand first, some scholars have speculated about an anchoring‐based unfair disadvantage for the defence (who has the last albeit less effective word in court). Despite the plausibility of this reasoning, it is based on a hitherto untested assumption that the first of two sequential anchors exerts a greater influence on a later judgement (a primacy effect). We argue that it is also conceivable that the last word in court has a recency advantage (a recency effect) or that order does not matter as both demands even each other out (a combined anchor). We report a pre‐registered experiment with German law students (N = 475) who were randomly assigned to six experimental conditions in a study on legal decision‐making order to test these three possibilities. Results indicate an influence of both the prosecution and the defence recommendation, but no effect of order. This provides strong support for combined anchoring even for knowledgeable participants and rich case material. Specifically, the data are best compatible with the notion that both anchors exert an influence but each on different individuals. The implications of this finding for theory and legal decision‐making are discussed.
Research‐based interviewing techniques typically rely upon suspects being, at least partially, responsive and engaged in the conversation. To date, the scientific literature is more limited regarding situations where suspects exercise their legal right to silence. The present study aimed to examine Swedish police officers' self‐reported strategies when interviewing suspects who decline to answer questions. A total of 289 police officers responded to a national survey that included questions about handling silence. The participants worked with a wide range of criminal cases, including financial crimes, fraud, violent offences, domestic abuse, volume crime and traffic violations. We used content analysis to examine their written responses to the open‐ended question: ‘What, if any, strategies do you use when interviewing suspects who speak very little or not at all?’ Four main categories were identified relating to (1) question strategies (e.g. asking the questions anyway, using silence), (2) information strategies (e.g. emphasizing the benefits of cooperating and informing about their legal right to silence), (3) supportive strategies (e.g. being friendly and asking about reasons for silence) and (4) procedural strategies (e.g. changing interviewers and conducting multiple interviews). Practitioners working with violent crimes reported meeting silent suspects more frequently compared with practitioners working with other criminal offences. The results provide an initial exploration into the various strategies used by police interviewers when questioning suspects who decline to answer questions. Further research is necessary for understanding and evaluating the ethics and effectiveness of such strategies.
To investigate the predictive value of antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) and features of ASPD (i.e., lack of remorse, blame externalization, and deceitfulness) for symptom exaggeration.
A sample of forensic psychiatric patients (N = 57) was asked to complete several self‐report instruments (measuring symptom exaggeration, lack of remorse, blame externalization, and offense minimization) and a semi‐structured interview about their most recent offense. To quantify patients’ deceitfulness, the information collected via the semi‐structured interview was checked against the official records of patient's offenses. Additionally, patient's mental disorders and the extent to which patients denied their delinquency were determined by gathering clinician's judgement on this matter from patient records. The relation between symptom exaggeration and the potential predictors of symptom exaggeration was examined through correlational analyses and cross‐tabulation of prevalence rates of symptom exaggeration with prevalence rates of the potential predictors.
Antisocial personality disorder was not a useful predicator of symptom exaggeration. Also, patients who showed little regret for their offenses, or tended to blame their offenses on external factors, or minimized their delinquency, or were inaccurate when reporting their delinquency, had similar levels of symptom exaggeration as those without these tendencies.
Neither ASPD nor antisocial traits, including lack of remorse, blame externalization, and deceitfulness, were meaningfully related to symptom exaggeration and therefore should have no place in the assessment of symptom validity or the detection of malingering. On the contrary; focusing on antisocial traits as indicators of symptom exaggeration is likely to result in large portions of misclassifications.
Purpose. Although the ability to appreciate the wrongfulness of criminal conduct and to distinguish it from childish mischief forms the basis of Age of Criminal Responsibility (ACR) legislation in many countries, empirical research on the extent to which children possess this ability is limited. It was the aim of this study to investigate this issue. Methods. A total of 132 males and females from four age groups (8, 12, and 16 years and adults) participated in the study. Participants listened to a series of vignettes which described a person committing a transgression. The seriousness of the transgressions varied across vignettes. Participants then provided ratings on the wrongfulness and outcome expectations associated with the conduct described in the vignette. Results. Participants from all age groups evaluated criminal conduct more negatively than mischievous conduct. Participants from all age groups also anticipated more negative self-reactions, more negative reactions from peers, and more severe legal sanctions for criminal conduct. Conclusions. Eight-year-olds from the study sample demonstrated that they meet the current cognitive standard associated with achieving the ACR. These 8-year-olds also provided evidence that they were comparable to older children and adults in terms of their understanding of the wrongfulness of criminal behaviour and the ability to distinguish it from mischievous behaviour.
The task of assessing and managing risk of violence has evolved considerably in the last 25 years, and the field of violent extremism has the potential to stand on the shoulders of the giants of this time. Therefore, the objective of this study was to identify good practice in the risk field and to apply that to the specific area of risk in relation to violent extremism – in order that developments here accord to highest standards of practice achieved so far elsewhere.
Method and Results
We begin by addressing the essential requirement to define the task of assessing and managing the risk of violent extremism – What is its purpose and parameters, who are its practitioners, in what contexts is this activity delivered, and how might any such context both facilitate and hinder the objectives of the task? Next, we map the terrain – What guidance is already available to assist practitioners in their work of understanding and managing the risk of violent extremism, and by what standards may we judge the quality of this and future guidance in the contexts in which is it applied? Finally, we explore options for the development of the field in terms of the empirical basis upon which the risks presented by individuals and the organizations to which they may affiliate are assessed, understood, and managed.
Recommendations are proposed in relation to each of these three areas of concern with a view to supporting the rapid and credible advancement of this growing and vital area of endeavour.