Psychology and Law
Full course description
This course focuses on applications of psychology to the legal system. It will provide students with insights and knowledge about typical themes within legal psychology. Such themes range from how reliable eyewitness testimonies in court are to whether criminals have a brain dysfunction making them permanently dangerous to society, to the role of experts in court. The role of psychologists within these themes is to ask questions that have a direct relevance to the legal arena and to conduct research to address these questions.
Through working with cases, students will be familiarized with various issues in the field in this course, for example police procedures, legal backgrounds, psychological experiments and the disputes that arise when psychology is applied to the law. Moreover, several small exercises in class will give students the opportunity to get a small taste of which tests and procedures are used by academics and professionals working in the field.
Drawing from areas of social, cognitive, developmental, clinical, and neuropsychology this course will deal with questions such as: How dangerous are sex offenders? Are all criminals competent to stand trial? How reliable are lie-detector tests? What is the role of expert witnesses in court? What are the dangers of bias in expert testimonies?
The aim of the course is to provide students with knowledge about the application of psychology to the legal system. By the end of the course, students should
- be able to identify current issues and controversies in the field of Psychology and Law;
- be able to describe methods and tools typically used in this field and experiments that have been conducted;
- be able to list ethical dilemmas that occur when collecting data and running experiments with human participants;
- be able to provide reasons why raising awareness about the problems that arise when psychology is applied to law in practice are crucial;
- be able to describe and analyze cases by applying various tools and methods.
SSC1005 Introduction to Psychology.
SSC1007 Introduction to Law and Legal Reasoning and/or an interest in Law.
Book: Costanzo, M., & Krauss, D. (2021 or earlier versions). Forensic and legal psychology. Psychological science applied to law. New York: Worth Publishers.