Type: Research Essays
Sample donated: Gina Nash
Last updated: September 21, 2019
Inthis assignment, I will be discussing the effectiveness of Forensic Psychologyas a means of supporting the investigation of crime. Forensic psychology is thelink between the psychology of the criminal and the criminal justice system.Forensic psychology is defined as ‘any application of psychological research,methods, theory and practice to a task faced by the legal system’ (Wrightsman).Without forensic psychology, it would be hard to realise why the criminalscommit the crimes as it involves the analytic research of the criminal’s brainactivity, emotions and thoughts linking these to the offender’s specificcrimes.
A forensic psychologist is someone who studies the motives and theactions of criminals, this research is then applied to other criminals and canbe used in a jury. 1.1,2.2 & 2.
1 TheUS, top down, approach to offender profiling focused on the backgrounds,personalities, behaviours, crimes and motives of serial killers. This approachwas started in the 1970’s by Ressler and a team of behavioural scientist whoconducted research into how sexually motivated serial killers are compelled tocommit these crimes. They conducted a series of interviews with 36 convictedserial killers these interviews included the notorious serial killers TedBunday and Charles Manson. As well as conducting interviews with these offendersin prison, the crimes of these offenders were also analysed.
The informationthat the researchers gathered helped them to put the crimes into categories basedon their characteristics. The categories are organised or disorganised crimescene and with the help of the FBI it was found that criminals who conductedmajor crimes would then also be categories into either an organised offender ora disorganised offender depending on the crime scene. Organisedoffender’s lives are fairly organised like the scene of their crimes, they areof average intelligence and generally employed. They bring weapons to the crimescene and their actions are carefully planned. Whereas a disorganised offenderwould commit a crime as a spontaneous act of aggression with little planningand fail to hide any evidence. The offender would normally live alone but closeto the crime scene they would be socially incompetent and unemployed. Theproblem with this approach is that it has limited use as it is only used in themost severe cases like rape or murder. These severe cases are only a smallproportion of the overall crime committed and the top down approach would haveno corresponded with the overall menial crimes that are committed.
Due to thenumber of serious crimes being low it is hard to get enough examples to improvethe technique. Though it has been found to help to contribute to more arrestsin the more serious crimes. (Douglas, 1981) argued that it does channel theinvestigation in the right places with 77% of cases. If you are aware of aserial killer motives it would be easier to follow a pattern to make an arrest.Thesample of people interviewed by the FBI, would have consisted of 36 serialmurders, this is not standardised and these people could of all committed thesame type of murder i.e. impulsive and so cannot be generalised.
The researchthat was performed with imprisoned offenders would have been better conductedby using a range of offenders whom had left a range of crime scenes varyingfrom evidence, behaviour and weapons used. Canter et al (2004) argued thatanalysed evidence from 100 murders and found a lack of distinct subset ofcharacteristics and no pattern. Putting a crime into two categories oforganised and disorganised is too simplistic and the accuracy of the categoriesis too limited. 1.1,2.2 & 2.
1 TheUK, bottom up, approach to offender profiling creates a bigger picture fromsmall bits of information and relies on a computer database. Offenderprofiling in Britain was very basic and standardised until the 1980’s when itwas turned around by David Canter who worked on the case of the railway rapistJohn Duffy. John Duffy had committed 24 sexual assaults and Canter was able todraw up an accurate profile of Duffy based on the crime scene. Canter was ableto pin point Duffys area where he lived, age and the fact that he had knowledgeof the railway system due to him working on the railways. that eventual led tohis arrest. Canters evidence of Duffy supported the bottom up approach and JohnDuffy moved up the offenders list from 1500th to 5thultimately leading to the arrest of Duffy. Factsand figures from Copson (1995) produced a report for the Home office detailingthe effectiveness of profiling though there is little evidence as not manycrimes as extreme as this happen often so little evidence is available.
Incomparison to the US approach the UK approach uses a more scientific method tobuild a profile of the offender. Makros and Alison (2002) researched the dataof 100 UK stranger rapes to see if offenders with similar demographic variableswere alike in crime scene behaviours. After acknowledging this data, it wasconfirmed that not everyone commits crimes in the same way even if crime scenesare similar.
Ifoffenders are similar would their crimes be similar? No, this is becauseeveryone commits crimes in different ways even if the crime scene is similar.It is also difficult to make predictions. If you have a previous case it maynot be the same in the future. 1.1& 3.1 Characteristicsof defender – Theuse of the jury system has a long history based on the assumption that a groupof representative people should reach an objective decision about whether thelaw has been broken. Because the jury system lies at the heart of our judicialsystem, understanding factors affecting the decisions they make and theprocesses by which these decisions are made is of paramount importance in operatinga fair justice system.
Social psychologists have conducted research into jurydecision making, and have considered how factors other than evidence mightinfluence the decisions that juries make. The study of real juries is prohibitedin the UK and USA, so psychologists often use mock juries made up of a group ofparticipants who are made to consider a case and make judgements about it. Ethnicity:Duncan(1976) During a mock jury a video tape of a violent crime being committed wasshown and it was found that black offenders were more likely to be given aharsher sentence where as white offenders were likely to be given a leanersentence. A mock jury was used consisting of 12 people though using a mock juryyou do not get a true representation of real life experiences. In a juror aremore motivated compared to a fictitious case where they are less likely to givean accurate verdict. Attractiveness:Stewart(1985) found that there was a correlation between a defendant’s attractivenessand the severity of the punishment given to them by the jury. If a defendant isperceived to be attractive, well dressed, clean shaven there is more leniencefrom the jury compared with a defendant whose appearance is less respectable orunkempt. Saladin et al (1988) used a mock jury and presented them with photosof a range of men.
The jurors were required to judge the defendant on theircapability of committing a serious crime like murder or armed robbery. Thefindings confirmed that defendants who are more attractive where likely to begiven a leaner sentence than those who were perceived as less attractive.Thisis a very stereotypical approach and categories defendants into what isperceived by them rather than what has actually been committed by them.
Bybasing the defendants sentence on their level of attractiveness their sentencehas no relation to the crime. Though using a mock jury to conduct theseexperiments means that it is not representable of real life. 1,1& 3.2 Psychologicalinfluences on Jury decision making – Conformity:Aschlooked at the effects of group pressure on the juror’s decision making by compilingan investigation into the effects of group pressure. In his investigation, heused an ambiguous situation and asked a group of men to answer which line on aseries of cards shown was the shortest.
The group consisted of dummyparticipants whom were aware of the investigation and a real participant whowas not aware of the investigation. The trial consisted of six to eight men andoverall 123 participants took part. 18 trials were conducted with the realparticipants being seated at the end or second from the end. The dummyparticipants would answer the question truthfully for the first few cards andthen they would all give a false answer for the remainder of the card. In 37%of the trials the real participants went along with the answer given by thedummy participants. This conforms to the group pressure that jurors may feel ina real jury.Thoughthis type of investigation is unethical as the participants are more likely toconform to same gender and it is biased as Asch only used six to eight men inhis trials.
It would also be difficult to conduct this kind of investigation ina real-life jury as it is someone’s life that is a stake. LabellingTheory:Peoplebehave in the way that resembles them and the role that society has given tothem like a student or football hooligan. Labels can shape the identity ofsomeone though some labels are more powerful than others.Becker(1963) argued that being labelled as a criminal is powerful so people are morelikely to follow that role and for fill the expectations of them over theirother statuses of father or husband. If people did not know you were a criminalthat power of the label “criminal’ would be taken away. 59%of the offenders would reoffend within in less than a month of their releasefrom prison due to their self-fulfilling prophecy.
This Theory causes people toconform to their labels that are given to them putting them at a disadvantagein the decision making of the jury. Due to this labelling, even if thedefendant fails to commit any other acts of criminal behaviour their labelwould be difficult to shift. 1.1Conclusion:Evaluatethe overall effectiveness of forensic psychology:Lookingat all of the evidence it could be argued that the UK, bottom up, approach ismore effective than the US, top down, approach as it is more determined bybehaviour analysis. Whereas the US, top down, approach fits offenders toclassifications.Thejurors do have too much emphasis on the eyewitness and this information cansometimes be not very reliable.Oneway around the attraction to a criminal would be to use a blind court roomthough some may argue that it is important to see the criminal, to judge whetherthey were showing any remorse for the crimes that they had committed.