Psychology, Crime and Law

Published by Taylor & Francis
Online ISSN: 1477-2744
Print ISSN: 1068-316X
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Aims and scope

Publishes psychological research into crime, civil law, and the etiology of criminal behavior for use in law and forensic-clinical psychology.

Recent publications
The present research examined the role of expectations, delay and ongoing task on prospective person memory. Participants (N = 561) studied six mock missing person posters and were told that they had either a low chance or a high chance of encountering the missing persons. Participants were told to press the ‘h’ key if one of the persons was encountered. Participants engaged in a grocery store task immediately after studying the posters or after a five-minute delay. The grocery store task included photographs of 44 individuals, including one of the ‘missing persons’. During the grocery store task, participants either engaged in an attention demanding ongoing activity (i.e. looking for four items from a shopping list) or were able to devote themselves solely to looking for the missing persons. Expectations of encounter increased both correct and incorrect sightings, effects that were more pronounced after the five-minute delay. The presence of the ongoing task had no significant effect on sighting rates. Results are discussed in terms of the multiprocess model [McDaniel, M. A., & Einstein, G. O. (2000). Strategic and automatic processes in prospective memory retrieval: A multiprocess framework. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 14(7), S127–S144 .] and the preparatory attention and memory process model [Smith, R. E. (2003). The cost of remembering to remember in event- based prospective memory: Investigating the capacity demands of delayed intention performance. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 29(3), 347–361.] of prospective memory. We also discuss applications of these findings to missing person investigations.
Research has shown that emotional testimony given by victims or their family can affect jurors’ or lay judges’ decision-making processes, but little attention has been paid to cross-cultural and individual variations. The present study examined whether cultural and individual differences were associated with how victim impact statement (VIS) affected mock lay judges’ decision making in East Asian contexts. Participants from Japan (n = 74) and Taiwan (n = 64) reviewed a transcript of a lay participation (or Saiban-In) trial with or without an emotional VIS by the bereaved family and then made verdict and sentencing decisions individually. The results showed no main and interaction effects of VIS and culture on verdict decision, perceived strength of evidence, and sentence decision. Regression analyses showed that Need for Affect predicted higher perceived strength of evidence against the defendant and more guilty verdicts, and the effects were stronger in the VIS condition. We concluded that emotional VIS in a written format may not be biasing by nature in East Asian contexts; however, including a VIS could risk the possibility of bias in the fact-finding process of lay judges with a higher tendency to approach emotional information.
With increasing numbers of prisoners, research on Swedish prison officers’ perceptions of management and support at work is warranted. Previous studies have mainly used a variable-centered approach, identifying several individual and organizational factors that influence prison staff's evaluation of their job. The present study adopted a person-centered approach, exploring the heterogeneity in a Swedish national sample of prison officers. Based on an extensive survey of the quality of prison job, 10 key predictors for overall prison regime evaluation were identified. Following latent class analysis, three distinct subgroups were discerned from the entire sample. Remarkably, a sizable subgroup with a relatively negative evaluation of the prison regime was observed. While most background covariates did not associate with the subgroup membership, prison officers who experienced violent or threatening incidents tended to report a negative evaluation of the prison regime. Intra-organizational social support, communication and loyalty are highlighted as key components of overall regime evaluation. Our findings suggest that enhancing collegial, management, and supervision support and communicative skills may increase prison officers’ job satisfaction. Beyond the organizational level of prisons, we also discussed the challenges that the Swedish prison system faces, along with the portrayal by social media of a violence-dominated environment.
Recent research indicates that mock jurors place too much weight on eyewitness confidence expressed in the courtroom rather than confidence expressed immediately after an identification, though eyewitness identification research clearly shows that only the latter is indicative of guilt. Researchers rarely present mock jurors with photo arrays, which could help them to better understand the eyewitness’ point of view. Across three experiments, potential jurors viewed photo arrays and hypothetical eyewitness confidence statements described as coming either immediately after the identification or much later in the courtroom. In Experiment 1, suspect guilt was rated as more likely when immediate or courtroom confidence was high. Experiment 2 reduced suspect guilt estimates associated with high courtroom confidence by providing partial Henderson instructions. Experiment 3 replicated this effect and found that simple directives from an eyewitness identification expert were even more beneficial in helping potential jurors correctly evaluate confidence based on timing. We recommend that eyewitness experts be allowed to instruct jurors not to trust confidence expressed at trial.
Alcohol intoxication is a common feature in crime, yet jurors often possess little understanding of how alcohol affects eyewitness memory. Furthermore, jurors are often blind to biases about different crimes that affect their interpretation of eyewitness evidence. Accordingly, the current study investigated the impact of (1) a victim’s intoxication status during a crime and (2) the type of crime committed on mock jury decision-making. Undergraduate students (N = 228) read a trial transcript describing a rape or robbery committed against a woman who was either sober or intoxicated to a low, moderate, or severe degree when the crime occurred. They also completed questionnaires assessing trial-related judgements, sexist attitudes towards women, and alcohol beliefs, behaviours, and experiences. Mock jurors incorrectly perceived alcohol as detrimental to victim credibility at any dose. However, the victim’s intoxication status failed to influence verdict decisions, which were better accounted for by extra-legal factors. Variance in jury decision-making according to crime type was not observed. The current study asserts the need for jury education to correct misconceptions about the effects of alcohol on eyewitness memory, and continued exploration of the role of crime type and extra-legal factors in intoxication-related cases.
The goal of this study was to determine whether the relationship between cognitive insensitivity and cognitive impulsivity, two core dimensions of antisocial thought process, grew significantly over a period of two years and whether this growth was more evident in actively delinquent youth. A group of 845 adolescent male and female middle-school students completed measures of cognitive insensitivity and impulsivity at three points in time, with one year between each point or wave. Analyses were conducted using the Fisher r-to-Z transformed Pearson-Filon statistic for comparing nonoverlapping dependent correlations. Analyses showed that the correlation between cognitive insensitivity and cognitive impulsivity increased significantly from Wave 1 to Wave 3. When analyses were performed separately for youth displaying above average and below average delinquency across the three waves, significant increases occurred only in the subgroup with above average delinquency scores and then only between Waves 2 and 3 and then between Waves 1 and 3. These findings suggest that the cognitive insensitivity and impulsivity dimensions of antisocial thought process become increasingly more intertwined as youth move through early adolescence, but only in youth who display regular involvement in delinquency over time.
Objective: Not all exonerees are perceived equally. Attitudes toward exonerees are negatively impacted by social characteristics, such as race and criminal history; providing significant challenges for exonerees attempting to reintegrate into the community. The present study examined whether exoneree race, gender and criminal history influenced ratings of desired social distance. Method: A community sample of 1043 females and males completed an online survey. Participants were asked to read a vignette of a mock news article that described a wrongful conviction, then complete a desired social distance scale. Exoneree gender, race and criminal history were manipulated in the news article, with a minimum of 120 participants randomised to eight vignette conditions. Results: Exoneree race and the presence of a prior criminal history had significant main effects on participant attitudes regarding desired social distance. There were no interactions between exoneree gender, race and priors, but differences did emerge suggesting differential views of desired social distance for females and older participants when the exoneree had a prior offence. Conclusion: Social characteristics, demographics and individual differences may be particularly important in forming community attitudes toward wrongful conviction. This holds important implications for exoneree reintegration and community attitudes toward the Australian criminal justice system.
Two core tasks within community corrections are estimating recidivism risk and providing supportive case management to supervised clients. Recent studies demonstrated that regularly reassessing dynamic risk factors enhances the predictive accuracy of case management tools that identify immediate client needs. Using a large sample (N = 2076) of adults on parole in an Australian jurisdiction, we evaluated whether reassessed versus initial scores from Level of Service/Risk, Need, Responsivity (LS/RNR) and Dynamic Risk Assessment for Offender Re-entry (DRAOR) better discriminated recidivists from non-recidivists. Using Cox regression survival analyses, we modelled risk for general and violent recidivism. Updated DRAOR scores incrementally predicted recidivism beyond initial scores, particularly showing that DRAOR Acute scores can identify needs related to immediate recidivism risk. Models combining LS/RNR criminal history scores with updated DRAOR Acute scores demonstrated the greatest predictive validity, suggesting case managers must consider acute dynamic risk factors within the context of long-term risk. We suggest that attending to criminal history, criminogenic needs and acute dynamic risk factors are each necessary for effective case management, with specific attention toward regularly reassessed acute dynamic risk factors among people identified with higher long-term risk and needs.
Judges have significant decision-making power that dictates the outcomes of defendants, but their perceptions regarding persons with psychiatric disorders (PPDs) are understudied. This qualitative study explored judges' perceptions of dangerousness of PPDs and the benefits and risks of violence surrounding the use of community-based interventions for PPDs. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 31 state and city-level court judges, which were then thematically analyzed. Results show that judges perceived PPDs as a risk to public safety; specifically, they perceived psychiatric disorders as enhancing the risk for violent behaviors. Although judges generally expressed positive views of psychiatric services, they had concerns about the decline in institutional care, indicating a need to enhance social control mechanisms for PPDs. Results suggest the need for policies to address institutional stigma in court settings and judicial trainings about the primary factors associated with crime and violence related to this population. At the same time, it is essential to recognize the obligatory responsibility of mental health providers to treat and advocate for their clients and to understand the procedures of the criminal justice system. ARTICLE HISTORY
Mean, standard deviation, skew, and reliabilities.
The relationship between parole/probation officers and female parolees can influence parolees’ successful reentry into the community. Constant and positive contact with parole officers might help parolees avoid problematic behavior. The current study focuses on the reduction in substance use parolees among female parolees as a product of the relationship quality with parole officers. This cross-sectional study used a structural equation model to examine whether relationship quality between parole/probation officers with female parolees predicted attitudes toward substance use avoidance. This study also examined whether criminogenic needs and employment self-efficacy explained the relationship between quality relationships and attitudes toward substance use (N = 226). The results suggest that relationship quality, criminogenic needs, and employment selfefficacy positively related to attitudes toward substance use avoidance. Mediational results suggest that criminogenic needs and employment self-efficacy explained the relationship between relationship quality and female parolees’ attitudes toward substance use. Therefore, establishing a positive relationship with a parole officer might help reduce female parolees’ substance use by increasing employment attitudes and reducing temptations to engage in criminal behavior.
In forty-nine states, the federal system, and the District of Columbia, individuals with a felony conviction are statutorily restricted from serving as jurors. Proponents of felon-juror exclusion justify the practice by suggesting that those with a felony criminal history lack character, and if allowed to serve, would ‘taint’ the appearance of the jury system. This study assesses that claim by measuring the public’s opinion of juries that include a juror with a felony criminal history. Using a two-by-two vignette design and drawing on a sample of 200 participants, we vary two experimental factors: the presence of a felon-juror on the jury and the verdict rendered by the jury (guilty/not guilty). Results show that participants’ views of ‘illicit’ juries do not differ statistically from homogeneous juries without a felon-juror, for either verdict condition, undermining the ‘taint’ argument. Results also suggest that under certain conditions, the inclusion of a felon-juror may bolster views of the jury and resulting verdicts. Adding to a growing literature on felon-juror exclusion, these findings call into question the character rationale for felon-juror exclusion and suggest that diversity of experience in the form of a criminal history does not undermine the appearance of the jury.
The suite of cognitive-emotional symptoms that one experiences while subject to registration and/or community supervision for a sexual offence has recently been conceptualized as Post-Conviction Traumatic Stress (PCTS). In the current study, we present a thematic analysis of transcription data extracted from focus groups with 22 men in treatment for sexual offending. We first describe the main sources of their trauma (e.g. allegation, arrest, court, conviction, jail, prison, parole/probation, and registration). Next, we examine their reported manifestations of symptoms contained in the DSM-5 criteria for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). All the men described at least one symptom, and many endorsed symptoms in all four criteria categories. Commonly described indicators of PCTS included intrusive memories of the arrest; avoidance of certain people, situations, and environmental cues; negative thoughts about themselves and the future; hyperarousal triggered by reminders of arrest or prison; and fear of being re-arrested for a violation of probation or registration. Finally, implications for trauma-informed practice and future research are discussed.
Should the goal of criminal justice be to make sure offenders get their ‘just deserts’? In the current work, we investigate why some people believe that criminal offenders should be punished. The primary goal is to explore how mindsets about the nature of criminal behavior predict punitive and rehabilitative attitudes. Drawing on the Double-Edged Sword (DES) model of mindsets in stigmatized domains, we predicted that mindsets about the relative changeability (growth mindsets) or stability (fixed mindsets) of criminality will have contradictory indirect effects on these attitudes. Across three preregistered studies (N = 1,089), in addition to finding that growth mindsets overall predicted less punitive attitudes, we found support for the DES model. That is, growth mindsets indirectly predicted less punitive and more rehabilitative attitudes via reduced essentialist thinking but stronger punitive and weaker rehabilitative attitudes via greater blame. Our findings extend the DES model to the domain of criminality, suggest avenues for additional research, and offer applications for fostering growth mindsets that keep the benefits without the costs.
Illustrative map of influence behaviors alongside dimensions of power and interpersonal framing.
Two-dimensional smallest space analysis of the coded interactions.
This research examines how suspects attempt to influence interviewers during investigative interviews. Twenty-nine interview transcripts with suspects accused of controlling or coercive behavior within intimate relationships were submitted to a thematic analysis to build a taxonomy of influence behavior. The analysis classified 18 unique suspect behaviors: the most common behaviors were using logical arguments (17% of all observed behaviors), denial or denigration of the victim (12%), denial or minimization of injury (8%), complete denials (7%), and supplication (6%). Suspects’ influence behaviors were mapped along two dimensions: power, ranging from low (behaviors used to alleviate investigative pressure) to high (behaviors used to assert authority), and interpersonal alignment, ranging from instrumental (behaviors that relate directly to evidence) to relational (behaviors used to bias interviewer perceptions of people and evidence). Proximity analysis was used to examine co-occurrence of influence behaviors. This analysis highlighted combinations of influence behaviors that illustrate how different behaviors map onto different motives, for example shifting attributions from internal to external to the suspect, or to use admissions strategically alongside denials to mitigate more serious aspects of an allegation. Our findings draw together current theory to provide a framework for understanding suspect influence behaviors in interviews.
Successful identification of domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) remains challenging. Laypersons could play a significant role in identifying victims, but only if laypersons recognize trafficking situations as such and do not incorrectly attribute responsibility to victims. In the current study, we examined laypersons’ perceptions of situations highly suggestive of DMST. Participants (N = 320), recruited from an internet-based crowd-sourcing platform, read a vignette describing a highly suspicious situation involving a minor and adult in a hotel room with cash on the minor’s person. Participants answered questions about what they thought was happening and about their general knowledge of trafficking. The vignette systematically varied the age (13, 15, 17 years) and gender (boy, girl) of the victim to include the most common ages and genders of known DMST victims. Overall, just over half (61%) of participants recognized that a crime occurred, more often with younger (70%) than older (55%) minors. Participants tended to place some responsibility on older minors for their situation, as did participants who exhibited lower levels of general knowledge of trafficking. Overall, the results reveal substantial limitations in laypersons’ understanding of DMST, including who is responsible, highlighting the need for targeted educational campaigns to improve that understanding.
People who are confronted with criminal situations sometimes lie by using different deceptive strategies. If they eventually come forward with the truth, it is important to understand whether their memory-based testimonies might be affected by their initial lies. To examine and compare the effects of various deceptive strategies (i.e., fabrication, false denial, and feigning amnesia) on memory, we will instruct participants to watch a video of a mock crime. Then, after two-days participants will be cued to lie according to the different deceptive strategies and tell the truth in response to different questions in an interview about the mock crime. One week later, participants will be instructed to tell the truth about what they saw in the video and which details they discussed in the interview during a final recognition memory task. We expect that 1) fabrication will lead to more commission errors as compared with all other groups, 2) false denials and feigning amnesia will lead to lower correct memory and more omission errors for details discussed during the interview, and 3) false denials and feigning amnesia will lead to lower correct memory and more omission errors for details viewed in the video (versus other groups).
Correlations between the main interviewing behaviour variables.
Pre-interview planning is vital in interviews with suspects. Via a questionnaire administered to 596 police investigators in Singapore, the current study examined potential associations between pre-interview planning, interviewing behaviours and interview outcomes. Interviewing behaviours were hypothesised to mediate the relationship between pre-interview planning and interview outcomes. It is posited that pre-interview planning fosters an investigative mindset, which in turn, influences the nature of interviewing behaviours employed by investigators. The study also sought to provide insights into police interviews with suspects in Singapore, given the limited research from Singapore on the topic. Rapport-based interviewing behaviours were found to mediate the relationship between pre-interview planning and positive interview outcomes, contributing empirical support to the importance of pre-interview planning. In addition, accusatorial interviewing behaviours were associated with negative interview outcomes. This study also found that police investigators in Singapore reported frequent planning prior to their interviews and used rapport-based interviewing behaviours with suspects. These behaviours are in line with the interviewing model adopted in Singapore. Regression analyses showed that participants’ endorsement of rapport-based approaches was predicted by investigator experience, confidence, and interview length. Endorsement of pre-planning of interviews was also predicted by investigator confidence and interview length. Implications of these findings are discussed.
SCAN (Scientific Content Analysis) is a verbal credibility assessment (VCA) tool that claims to detect deception in written statements. Although the validity of SCAN is contested in literature, various (law enforcement) agencies across the globe are trained in using SCAN. To date it remains unknown how SCAN is perceived, and to what extent it is used in practice. Based on a scoping review and qualitative survey, we identified practitioners’ and scholars’ perceptions on the use(fulness) of SCAN. Data were collected from 48 participants (35 practitioners and 13 scholars). Key findings illuminate (1) that practitioners apply an incomplete, personalized version of SCAN, (2) that SCAN practitioners are reluctant to abandon SCAN, and (3) that SCAN is considered incompatible with (Belgian) legislation on police questioning. Based on practitioners’ expressed needs and concerns, we present several alternatives for SCAN, as well as recommendations on how a shift to other techniques can be facilitated.
Rehabilitation programs for terrorists have gained notoriety. Some issues still require thorough investigation, such as the social support they receive. The present research aims to examine the attitudes towards rehabilitation programs for terrorist offenders and the mediating and moderating mechanisms underlying these attitudes. To this end, two studies were conducted: the first study evaluated the mediating mechanisms (negative feelings and threats; N = 407) and the second study analyzed the moderating mechanisms (social dominance orientation, system justification, and political orientation; N=444). In both cases, the type of offender was manipulated (criminal vs. nationalist terrorist vs. Islamist terrorist offenders) and different attitudes were assessed (general support, incapacitation, treatment effectiveness, and mandated treatment). The results showed less support for rehabilitation programs for Islamist terrorists than for other offenders. Moreover, Islamist terrorists pose a more significant terrorist threat while criminals pose a greater realistic threat, which led to less favorable attitudes towards rehabilitation programs. Finally, individuals with more conservative ideologies had stronger negative attitudes towards programs for Islamist terrorists. We discuss these findings within the framework of integrated threat and system justification theories.
It is unclear whether witness mental illness and special measures used with witnesses in court impacts juror decision-making. Participants (N = 204) from the general public and student population completed a measure assessing attitudes towards mental illness before reading a mock trial vignette where witness mental illness (depression, schizophrenia, no mental illness) and the special measure used in court (screen, intermediary, no special measure) were manipulated. Participants were then instructed to formulate judgements about the witness testimony provided (reliability, competency, credibility) and their likelihood of finding the defendant guilty. The findings showed that witnesses with depression were perceived as significantly more competent than witnesses with schizophrenia, or with no mental illness. Witnesses with depression were also perceived as significantly more competent than witnesses with schizophrenia when a screen was used in court. There was however no difference in competency ratings for witnesses with depression versus those with schizophrenia when no special measure was used, or when an intermediary was used, although witnesses with depression were still viewed more favourably overall. These findings suggest that some awareness of these biases is needed in court. Improving clarity about why special measures are used in court might also go some way towards addressing this issue.
Previous investigation has not considered potential sex differences for psychopathy facets and executive functioning related to gang membership. Although empirical inquiry has begun to focus on psychopathy’s role in youth gang membership, this research is male-focused. The present study uses the baseline of the Pathways to Desistance study to investigate the relationship between psychopathy facets, executive functioning and gang membership across sex. Logistic regression in all boys and girls samples is performed to examine the potential relationship between the constructs across sex. Following this, Long’s test of predicted probabilities is implemented to examine potential differences across sex for key variables robustly. The findings suggest the socially/deviant facet of psychopathy is associated with gang status in girls only; the effect was smaller than for both peer delinquency and violent victimization. Further executive functioning and the interpersonal facet were not significantly associated with gang status in boys and girls. The results of Long’s test show no robust differences that exist across sex for variables of interest. Although sex differences are not robustly found in the current study it is suggested intervention strategies should consider the needs of girls, because strategies do not make these considerations.
Witnesses often need to describe individual episodes of repeated crimes, such as family violence. Suggestive questions containing incorrect information reduce the accuracy of adults’ reports of single events; in the current experiment, we examined the effects of suggestive questions on adults’ reports of one episode of a repeated event. Over two weeks, 134 participants completed four activity sessions containing variable details that changed each session, and new details that were not repeated across the series. One week later, they were interviewed and described one (self-nominated) target episode. Next, participants were asked four suggestive questions that varied according to whether the suggested details had been experienced in a non-target episode or not experienced, and detail-type (variable or new). As research with children indicated that question-type might be important, half our participants were asked open suggestive questions; the other half were asked closed suggestive questions. Participants accepted more suggestions about experienced (non-target) than not-experienced details, and about variable than new details. They also accepted more details in open than closed questions, but only for experienced non-target new details. Our results demonstrate the ease with which participants accepted interviewer-suggested details when reporting on an episode of a repeated event.
Road crime is one of the most prevalent types of crime, which is why more and more frequent offenders and repeat offenders enter prison convicted of serious crimes. The present study aimed to determine the clinical and sociodemographic profile of road offenders, trying to establish differences and relationships with other types of crime and with community drivers. The study involved 513 drivers, classified into four groups: inmates with crimes against road safety (CTRO); inmates with crimes against road safety and with another type of criminal history (CTRO&OO); prisoners convicted of other criminal offences (COO); community drivers with no criminal record (DWCR). All were given a battery of instruments that assessed personality traits, sensation-seeking, psychiatric symptomatology, alcohol dependence, aspects related to driving and sociodemographic data. The results reveal similar profiles, between the CTRO&OO groups and the COO, in personality, search for emotions and psychopathological symptoms and important differences between the groups of road offenders (CTRO AND CTRO&OO) and of these with the DWCR. The classification and regression tree identified as relevant predictors, the number of fines and traffic accidents, alcohol dependence and obsessive-compulsive symptoms. These data can be useful for the prevention and rehabilitation of offenders against road safety.
Dual harm behaviour has recently gained scholarly attention. Dual harm centres on a subset of people who display violent and self-harming behaviour. This study re-examines the differential profile characteristics identified in Europe for those who dual harm, using international data featuring a population study of a state prison system in the south-eastern United States. Three years of data produced 43,489 institutional events, from a custodial population of 22,918. Logistic regression analysis indicates that those who dual harm in custody had an overall rate of infraction 40–70% higher than those who engage solely in violence or self-harm, and five times higher than those without physical harm infractions. Dual harm was associated with higher rates of non-harm incidents (e.g. property damage and disorder), younger age, lower educational achievements on admission and less educational development during imprisonment, greater self-reported mental health need although not substance abuse, and fewer intimate relationships. Dual harm was related to more lethal acts of self-harm such as ligature or ingestion. This is the first study that applies the dual harm profile to prison data within the US. This study supports dual harm as a highly relevant construct within international custodial settings and offers policy implications for this population.
The Digital wallet has developed rapidly in recent years. The number of users of digital wallets has been increasing significantly over several years. However, the financial accident related to digital wallets occurred and caused damage to the users. This study aims to analyze and determine the legal protection of digital wallet users for loss of e-money in Indonesia and Korea, and the legal issue from the Korean digital wallet regulation that can be harmonized in Indonesian’s regulation. This type of research is normative research using statutory and comparative approaches. The results of this study indicate that Indonesia carried out the legal protection for digital wallet users by prohibiting several actions, responsible for the loss of e-money by the provider unless the fault comes from the users, and sanctions. Korea carried out the legal protection for digital wallet users by ensuring the users safety, prohibition against electronic infringement, responsible for the loss caused by all types of electronic infringement, and sanctions. Then, several lessons can obtain to harmonize the digital wallet regulation in Indonesia, including the adoption single codified law, the responsible of the digital wallet provider and compensation for damage, and the response to the financial accident.
Boxplot Displaying the Number of Relevant Formulation Recommendations Made within Cases with Positive Versus Negative Outcomes.
Boxplot Displaying the Number of Feasible Formulation Recommendations Made within Cases with Positive Versus Negative Outcomes.
Logic Model Operationalising the Process by Which Formulation Recommendations May Influence Outcomes.
The Offender Personality Disorder Pathway (OPDP) was co-commissioned in 2011 to better manage high-risk offenders likely to have a personality disorder. Within the OPDP, forensic case formulation is used to develop a psychological understanding of each offender’s criminal behaviour, clinical problems, and criminogenic needs. Each formulation concludes with a set of recommendations aimed at addressing the problems and needs identified. However, no research has yet investigated the effectiveness of these recommendations. To address this, the present study used a multiple case-study method to investigate the effectiveness of recommendations generated within 10 OPDP formulations. Two sets of cases were examined: 5 with positive outcomes, and 5 with negative outcomes (known as a ‘two-tailed’ multiple case study). When these two sets of cases were compared, a clear pattern of differences emerged in the relevance, feasibility, utility, and impact of the formulation recommendations made (in favour of cases with positive outcomes). On the basis of these results, a provisional logic model was developed to operationalise the process by which formulation recommendations were hypothesised to have contributed to outcomes in ‘positive’ cases, and where and why this process commonly deteriorated in ‘negative’ cases. Implications of these results and avenues for further study are discussed.
In this paper, we study what factors contribute to the extent that detained individuals (a) perceive their time in detention as severe and (b) perceive their treatment by prison staff as procedurally just. More specifically, the aim of the study is to examine the antecedents of subjective severity of detention (SSD) and perceived procedural justice (PPJ) with the aim to identify individual and situational characteristics that contribute to such perceptions. Our analyses were based on data from the Prison Project (n = 1430), which includes detailed information on measures of SSD, and PPJ among Dutch males held in Dutch penitentiary institutions. Based on their SSD and PPJ scores, detained individuals were classified as belonging to one of four subgroups (reference group, high SSD, high PPJ, or high both). Using a large set of background variables, we found that older age, a less elaborate criminal history, no daily drug use before arrest, not having experienced any victimization by prison staff, and the personality traits of neuroticism, conscientiousness, and agreeableness were the most relevant antecedents for ‘high both’ subgroup membership.
Dependent Variables as a Function of Defendant and Mock-Juror Race Study 1
Study 2: Effects of Juror Race, Defendant Race, Video, and Instructions on Defendant Credibility
Two studies examined the effectiveness of the Unconscious Bias Juror (UBJ) video and instructions at reducing racial bias in Black and White mock-jurors’ decisions, perceptions, and counterfactual endorsement in a murder (Study 1; N = 554) and battery (Study 2; N = 539) trial. Participants viewed the UBJ video or not, then read pretrial instructions (general or UBJ), a trial summary, and posttrial instructions (general or UBJ). In Study 1, juror race moderated the effect of defendant race on verdicts, culpability, and credibility. White, but not Black, jurors demonstrated greater leniency toward Black defendants for verdicts, culpability, and credibility. The UBJ video moderated the effect of defendant race on murder counterfactual endorsement. Only when the video was absent was jurors’ counterfactual endorsement higher for the White versus Black defendant, which mediated the effect of defendant race on White jurors’ verdicts. In Study 2, White jurors were more lenient regardless of defendant race. Instructions and juror race moderated the video’s effect on credibility ratings. The video only influenced Black jurors’ credibility ratings. In conclusion, the debiasing interventions were ineffective in reducing racial bias in jurors’ verdicts. However, they do impact aspects of juror attribution and may be effective with modification.
Despite a wealth of research on the decision to notify police following victimization, there has been relative inattention to the role of a basic feature of crime: the tendency for individuals to offend in groups. Following this, the current research examines the influence of co-offending on the decision to notify police using information from the National Crime Victimization Survey. Results indicate that the co-offending is significantly and positively related to the likelihood of notification. Findings further indicate that this relationship is moderated by co-offender characteristics, such that young co-offenders and, to a lesser extent, male co-offenders are more likely than their counterparts to be reported to police. These results have important implications for understanding the invocation of both formal social control and disparities in these processes, indicating that co-offending not only has a direct effect on notification, but that it also changes the effect of offender characteristics on this decision.
To reduce the memory decay associated with delayed reporting, witnesses are often encouraged to note down their recall immediately after the event. However, research has only investigated the benefits of immediate recall for single events; no research has explored whether immediate recall can improve memory for repeated events. Therefore, this research examined the effect of immediate recall on adult memory for a repeated event. In Experiment 1 (N = 42), participants watched four workplace bullying videos. After each video, the experimental group immediately recalled what occurred during the bullying instance, while the control group did not. One-week after the final video, all participants completed a final recall report about each video in the series. In Experiment 2 (N = 46), the same design and procedure were followed as Experiment 1, except prior to completing their final recall reports, all participants received correct and misleading post-event information about the third instance. The findings revealed that immediate recall enhanced memory accuracy across instances, but did not impact recall of source memory errors nor misinformation acceptance. The findings suggest that it may be beneficial for victims/witnesses of repeated offences, such as domestic abuse, to document their memories soon after experiencing an incident.
Legal psychologists’ assessments can have a major impact on the fact finder’s evaluation of evidence and, consequently, perceptions of guilt. Yet, in the few studies about legal psychologists’ assessments and reports, great variability was found. As is the case with other forensic expert domains, legal psychologists are prone to cognitive biases, such as being adversely affected by irrelevant contextual information, confirmation bias, and allegiance bias. Based on the scientific literature, we propose several ways in which legal psychologists can minimize cognitive biases in their assessments, most notably the alternative scenario method. Furthermore, we propose guidelines for expert witnesses in the legal psychological domain, designed to make reports as scientifically grounded, applicable, readable, transparent, and bias-free as possible. We hope that the guidelines will enhance the quality of expert witness testimony provided by legal psychologists around the world.
The integrative model of criminal choice proposes that cognitive and/or affective appraisals partially mediate the personality-crime relationship. The current study tests the integrated model of criminal choice across three different levels of subjective apprehension risk. Participants made hypothetical criminal choices in response to three vignette scenarios presenting criminal opportunities varying in the implied risk of apprehension. Consistent with the integrated model of criminal choice, when risk of apprehension was not manipulated, cognitive and affective appraisals (perceived risk and negative affect) partially mediated the relationship between personality (honesty-humility) and criminal choice. Higher levels of honesty-humility predicted increased perceived risk and negative affect, which in turn predicted decreased intentions to offend. When risk of apprehension was experimentally increased, personality did not affect either variable. As predicted, in both baseline and increased levels of risk of apprehension, higher levels of honesty-humility, perceived risk, and negative affect were found to significantly predict lower intentions to offend. Additionally, decreased perceived risk predicted reduced negative affect. These findings suggest that the mediating relationship between personality and crime may be dependent on the level of subjective risk of apprehension. Future studies may investigate whether different levels of situational risk moderate the relationship between personality and cognitive/affective appraisals.
In forensic practice, clinicians often need to apply risk assessment results to complex correctional decisions, but a strong empirical base to support some practices (such as assessing strengths or measuring change) is limited and still emerging. Using data from 195 adult men (M age = 32.02, SD = 8.53) who completed a custody-based violence prevention rehabilitation program, we supplemented existing static and dynamic risk factor ratings recorded prospectively by correctional staff by conducting retrospective file reviews and coding additional dynamic risk factors and strengths (including motivation and program engagement). We observed small average reductions in dynamic risk ratings and increases in strength ratings. After controlling for static risk scores, increases in client motivation and program engagement predicted reduced violent recidivism. Results from multivariate models suggested clients’ interest in engaging with post-custodial support for staying crime-free was critical for post-release success. Although our methodology was innovative in this context, inconsistent interrater reliability (ICC1 = .05–.74) and results suggest clinicians should cautiously interpret change scores and strength factor ratings. Rehabilitation research would benefit from partnerships with corrections agencies to design rigorous prospective research on client motivation and program engagement.
Mental health and traumatic stress symptoms are prevalent in juvenile offenders, yet research on diversion programs rarely examine these important outcomes. Program duration and the role of protective factors are also understudied in this literature. This study examined the impact of program duration and youth protective factors on mental health and traumatic stress symptoms of 713 youth participating in an Illinois diversion program. Overall, the more time youth spent in the diversion program, the more improvement they demonstrated in mental health and trauma symptoms. Both program duration and number of youth strengths at program entry were significantly associated with improvement in mental health and traumatic stress symptoms. Findings highlight the importance of program duration and suggest that youth protective factors should be identified early on and targeted to maximize the impact of juvenile justice diversion programs on mental health and trauma symptoms.
Rape victim testimony may seem incongruent with the ‘real rape’ stereotype and appear more consistent with typical consensual sex. This research investigated whether having victims describe stereotype-consistent events early in their testimony guides jurors to construct narratives of the evidence that are consistent with rape and depict the defendant as guilty. In Study 1, a convenience sample (N = 38, 65.79% female, 34.21% male) watched video testimony in which the victim described the details of the assault first or last, with participants verbalising their thoughts about the testimony as they watched. We then recorded participants’ spoken narratives about the alleged rape, which community members (N = 418, 41.15% female, 58.61% male, 0.24% gender-fluid) evaluated in Study 2. In Study 1, participants’ thoughts in the rape-first condition suggested they attended more to the victim’s non-verbal cues to deception than the events described. Consistent with this, participants in Study 2 rated the narratives of those in the rape-first condition as less complete. However, counter to predictions, participants’ perceptions of the narratives as typical of rape did not differ based on condition. Further, participants were less likely to find the defendant guilty after listening to the narratives of those in the rape-first condition.
Fines are the most common form of formal speed limit enforcement applied in jurisdictions across the world. From a deterrence perspective, fines deter speeding through high risk of detection and swift enforcement of financial penalties. Yet, evidence on factors associated with fine payment compliance is limited. In this study, we consider the extent to which elements of deterrence and social behavioural norms influence the dynamics of speeding fine payment. We merge lifetime driving and fine payment records from over 10,000 drivers who received a speeding infringement notice during a one-week period in 2017 across communities in Queensland, Australia with community level socio-demographic data. We combine these data with our indicator of community level fine payment norms; the proportion of residents with an outstanding fine debt and conduct survival analysis to estimate the impact of social norms on days taken to pay speeding fines after controlling for community wealth and driving history. We find that individuals living in communities where a greater proportion of residents have outstanding fine debt take longer to pay fines after controlling for community disadvantage and social disorganisation. Our findings support the social norms perspective that speeding fine compliance is enhanced by normative community behaviours.
Exemplary segments of the I-CIT.
Items used in the I-CIT.
Demographic information.
Government agencies including border control have an interest to detect if someone provides false information about their nationality. While response time tasks have been proposed to be able to detect someone’s true nationality, there is the risk that they will often err, particularly in the face of information contamination (i.e. someone having thorough knowledge of the country). We screened 2,200 participants to create three groups: Dutch participants (n = 118), and British participants with (n = 99) and without knowledge of the Netherlands (n = 118). They were tested with either the autobiographical Implicit Association Test (aIAT) or the Inducer-Concealed Information Test (I-CIT). While both tests could discriminate Dutch participants from British participants without knowledge of the Netherlands (AUCI-CIT = .65; AUCaIAT = .88), only the aIAT could also discriminate Dutch participants from British participants with knowledge (AUCI-CIT = .52; AUCaIAT = .86). Therefore, the aIAT, but not the I-CIT, could be a helpful tool to detect false nationality claims, even when information contamination is suspected.
The victim’s testimony in most rape trials is unlikely to match jurors’ rape stereotypes and may instead seem typical of consensual sex. This research investigated whether providing judicial education about what commonly occurs in rape, and having a victim describe stereotype-consistent events early in their testimony, would guide jurors to interpret the victim’s testimony as depicting rape. After pilot work, community members (N = 212, 3 non-binary, 113 females, 96 males) received either educative instructions or standard instructions and watched video testimony in which the victim described the details of the assault at the beginning or end of the testimony. Participants also evaluated whether the testimony depicted rape or consensual sex as the events were described. Further, participants then read that another juror thought that the defendant was not guilty, and we re-assessed participants’ perceptions of the case. Participants who received the assault early categorised events as depicting rape. While educative instructions had no effect on evaluations of the testimony, participants who received education were more likely to find the defendant guilty. However, regardless of condition, participants perceived the defendant as less likely to be guilty after reading the juror’s statement compared to before. Recommendations for trial interventions are discussed.
In order to capture and preserve eyewitness memory, psychologists have developed cued recall tools that witnesses can fill out immediately after a critical incident. This study assesses the efficacy of a novel tool, ‘iWitnessed’. iWitnessed is a smartphone application that elicits information from witnesses about the event using a guided recall procedure. Naïve undergraduate participants (N = 72) witnessed a staged theft and were then randomly allocated to one of three immediate recall conditions: no recall (control), free recall, or iWitnessed. One week later all participants returned to the lab and were interviewed about the theft they had witnessed. The results showed that iWitnessed increased the amount of correct information reported in the participants’ immediate accounts (Hedge’s g = 1.26) without compromising overall accuracy. However, iWitnessed did not improve delayed recall relative to the free recall and control groups. This research shows that novel technological advancements can be used to capture and preserve accurate and detailed eyewitness accounts.
There are concerns that risk assessment instruments may exacerbate racial/ethnic disparities in the justice system. Risk factors measured by Western-normed tools may not accurately reflect the life experiences of non-White offenders. Systemic biases may also be baked into tools if certain risk items are unfairly associated with race/class. Despite these concerns, few studies have rigorously examined how common risk factors for violence compare across racial/ethnic groups in the U.S. This cross-sectional study addressed these gaps by examining cross-cultural differences in the performance of 10 common historical risk factors. White, Hispanic, and Black adults (N = 270) sampled from Amazon Mechanical Turk completed risk ratings and self-reported lifetime violence/offending. Overall, risk scores performed relatively well in the strength and form of their associations with offending across groups. However, rates of general offending were consistently lower for Hispanics and Blacks compared to similar-scoring Whites. In addition, several risk domains overclassified high-scoring Hispanics and Blacks but were better calibrated with low-scoring minority groups. Although our results reveal modest evidence of racial bias, definite conclusions about the universality of similar risk factors may be premature given mixed findings of overestimation/over-classification. Results have implications for fairness in risk assessment and underscore the need for further prospective investigations.
In a series of three studies, we investigated whether exposure to a brief video would influence attitudes toward wrongfully convicted individuals among undergraduate students (Studies 1 and 2) and community members (Study 3). In Study 1 (N = 216), we hypothesized that participants who watched a video about wrongful conviction (eyewitness misidentification vs. false confession) would have more positive attitudes toward wrongfully convicted individuals compared to those exposed to an unrelated video. In Study 2 (N = 203), we hypothesized that attitudes after, compared to before, watching the wrongful conviction video would be more positive. In Study 3 (N = 431), we explored the effect of an expert discussing wrongful conviction on attitudes. In all studies, we asked participants to watch a brief Innocence Project video of an exoneree discussing their wrongful conviction or an unrelated video and answer a series of questions assessing their attitudes toward wrongfully convicted individuals. Compared to those exposed to the control video, participants exposed to a video about wrongful conviction had more positive attitudes toward wrongfully convicted individuals. Based on these findings, we have evidence that watching these Innocence Project videos may result in more positive attitudes toward exonerees which could improve their reintegration.
Victim emotionality is one of the most influential factors in sexual crime cases. Traditionally, the study of emotionality has been limited to behaviour-descriptors such as conveying panic or appearing shaken, however, such studies must also be extended to the content of the victim’s testimony. Factors that affect emotionality within victim speech have not been sufficiently explored. Figurative language – such as metaphor, hyperbole, and simile – has been viewed historically as a tool to enhance persuasion, source credibility, and influence attitude changes within listeners. Thus, the use of figurative language may be the quickest and most effective way for victims to communicate the impact of sexual abuse. The present research focused on the intentional meta-linguistic content of victim testimony such as the use of figurative language; specifically, hyperbole. We investigated whether professionals and laypersons preferred a hyperbolic phrase, or a literal phrase in victim testimony, when asked to assume the role of the speaker, using a ‘fill-in-the-blank’ task. The results showed that professionals preferred the literal phrase, whereas laypersons preferred the hyperbolic. This would suggest that the pragmatic functions of hyperbole are different for laypersons (who could become complainants or jury members) and law enforcement; the implications of this difference are discussed.
In the Irish Prison Service, prisoners repeatedly engaged in serious violence are managed under the Violently Disruptive Prisoner (VDP) policy. With the development of the National Violence Reduction Unit (NVRU), practice has shifted from being operationally-driven to the integration of a psychological perspective in the management of these prisoners. Part of an ongoing evaluation of this changing practice, this study explored the experiences of VDP policy prisoners (n = 4) and the prison officers (n = 13) working with them before practice changed. Descriptive thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews identified nine themes: (1) describing VDP policy prisoners, (2) staff characteristics and approaches, (3) describing the VDP policy regime, (4) the social environment, (5) the occupational environment, (6) function of the VDP policy, (7) impact of the VDP policy, (8) factors influencing violence, and (9) responding to violence. Results are interpreted in light of comparable research and the Power Threat Meaning Framework. Implications for policy, practice and research in the NVRU are considered.
While researchers find that attorneys in CSA trials dedicate substantial time to questioning children about the plausibility of their reports, we know of no study to date that has assessed the types of plausibility issues attorneys raise, the relative frequency of different types, or if attorneys vary their plausibility questioning depending on case characteristics. In the current study we explored these questions. Guided by the story model of jury decision-making, we proposed defense attorneys would raise plausibility issues by 1) highlighting jurors’ misconceptions about CSA dynamics; 2) highlighting confusing or implausible statements made by the child; and 3) offering alternative explanations for events. We conducted a content analysis of the cross-examinations of 134 children aged 5-17 testifying about alleged CSA. We found that attorneys raised all three proposed types of plausibility questioning, and they varied their plausibility questioning somewhat by age, severity, child-defendant relationship, and the number of victims in the case. Attorneys’ preferred strategy was to highlight jurors’ misconceptions about CSA. Prosecutors should address jurors’ misconceptions preemptively in direct examinations of children or through expert testimony. Beyond implications for courtroom practices, our plausibility framework may apply to plausibility concerns raised in other crime types, something researchers should explore.
Analysis of variance of effects in Experiment 1.
Analysis of variance of effects in Experiment 2.
Analysis of variance of effects in Experiment 3.
The misinformation effect consists in the inclusion in witness testimonies of false information from sources other than the given event. Given that this is a serious threat for the quality of witness testimony, it is surprising that so little research has explored whether the influence of misinformation on remembering can be reduced. In this article, a method of enhancing self-confidence that is called reinforced self-affirmation (RSA) was shown to reduce the misinformation effect, which replicates previous research of this kind. RSA aims to boost self-confidence and consists of self-affirmation and manipulated positive feedback. In this article, the efficacy of RSA was explored in the context of initial testing, i.e. testing memory immediately after the original event, and several methods of activating self-affirmation and introducing positive feedback were tested. In general, RSA reduced the misinformation effect in all three experiments; however, it was not effective when initial testing was present, most probably due to ceiling effects caused by this testing.
There is very little empirical evidence about how vehicular heatstroke cases are treated by the criminal justice system. Previous research demonstrates a wide disparity in legal outcomes for cases involving vehicular heatstroke, ranging from acquittals to charges of child neglect or murder. To better understand how specific factors could potentially impact justice outcomes for vehicular heatstroke cases, two experiments were designed. In Experiment 1, participants (n = 146) read a scenario involving an infant hot car death, where the mother’s workplace (bar or church) and perceived parenting character (perceived as a bad parent or good parent) were manipulated. In Experiment 2, participants (n = 161) read a scenario where the parent’s sex (mother or father) and parenting character were varied. The results from both experiments indicated that participants were more likely to assign responsibility for the child’s death when the parent was perceived as having a bad parenting character. It was also found (in Experiment 2) that participants were more likely to forgive the parent with a bad parenting character if they were a mother rather than a father. These findings suggest that extralegal factors could influence legal decisions for vehicular heatstroke cases.
Compensation is one of the few resources available to exonerees, as they do not qualify for many of the same re-entry services available to parolees (Innocence Project, n.d.). Past research has shown public support for exoneree compensation (Bingham et al., 2013; Clow et al., 2012; Karaffa et. al, 2015); however, little is known about what factors influence perceptions of exonerees receiving compensation. The current study investigated the role of the contributing factor in an exoneree’s wrongful conviction case, participant characteristics, and perceptions of an exoneree and wrongful convictions, on perceptions of monetary compensation awards. Student participants were randomly assigned to read one of three fictitious news articles that varied in terms of the factor that led to an exoneree’s wrongful conviction (i.e., false confession, eyewitness misidentification, or police misconduct), and afterwards answered a series of questions assessing perceptions of assistance, of the exoneree, and of wrongful convictions. Results indicated that contributing factor (police misconduct), participant characteristics (men), and perceptions of the exoneree (more innocent than guilty, exoneree ‘Black’ or ‘Hispanic’) and of wrongful convictions (supportive of other forms of assistance) were significant predictors of monetary compensation awards. Keywords: compensation; exoneree; wrongful conviction; actual innocence; criminal justice system
The presence of a weapon in the perpetration of a crime can impede an observer’s ability to describe and/or recognise the person responsible. In the current experiment, we explore whether weapons when present at encoding of a target identity interfere with the construction of a facial composite. Participants encoded an unfamiliar target face seen either on its own or paired with a knife. Encoding duration (10 or 30 s) was also manipulated. The following day, participants recalled the face and constructed a composite of it using a holistic system (EvoFIT). Correct naming of the participants’ composites was found to reduce reliably when target faces were paired with the weapon at 10 s but not at 30 s. These data suggest that the presence of a weapon reduces the effectiveness of facial composites following a short encoding duration. Implications for theory and police practice are discussed.
Information provided about the DA helpline worker participants.
Companion animals can both protect against, and increase risk for, coercive control and abuse, yet have not been considered in existing UK COVID-19 reports of domestic abuse (DA). This study aimed to explore the nature and frequency of animal-related calls received by UK domestic abuse helpline (DAH) staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, examine any lockdown-related changes, identify potential commonalities across helpline organisations, and explore perspectives about ongoing animal-related issues in the context of DA. Semi-structured virtual interviews were conducted with 11 DAH staff workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data were subjected to thematic analysis. The analysis revealed four overarching themes. Theme (1) lockdown-related changes in the frequency and nature of animal-related calls received. Theme (2) animals as tools for abuse during lockdown, with subthemes (a) manipulating the family-animal bond, and (b) fears over animal safety. Theme (3) animals as barriers to refuge during lockdown, with subthemes, (a) lack of animal-friendly accommodation, (b) lack of social support systems, and (c) animals as coping mechanisms. Theme (4) helpline staffs’ awareness of and links to animal-friendly accommodation and fostering services. The findings can inform decision making regarding appropriate long-term support needs for multi-species families with complex needs, both during and post-pandemic.
Free online copy of the article available at: Simulated avatar interview training has been proven to be effective in improving child sexual abuse interview quality. However, the topic of perceived realism of the avatars and whether they cause emotional reactions has not been previously investigated. Such reactions could affect both learning from the interview simulations as well as how actual interviews are conducted. We wanted to understand whether participants perceive allegedly sexually abused child avatars as realistic and how they emotionally respond to avatars revealing they were actually abused vs. not-abused. Psychology students and recent graduates (N = 30, Mage = 27.9 years) watched eight avatars (four boys, four girls, four with a CSA and four with a no-CSA scenario) providing a series of details about what had happened. Before and after observing each avatar, the participants’ emotional reactions and perceived realness of the avatars were measured. Also, during each observation, the participant’s facial expressions were recorded. The participants self-reported more negative (anger, sadness, disgust) and more positive (relief) emotions to confirmed CSA and disconfirmed CSA scenarios, respectively, while results for facially expressed emotions were less clear. Higher general emotionality related to CSA and higher perceived realness of the avatars made the differences generally stronger.
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