WJEC Psychology A2 Forensic

Essay plans for the forensic topic of PY4


Decision Making of Juries

Intro: Randomly selected people form a jury, many things can influence their decision.

Characteristics: Based on stereotypes. Physically attractive people are associated with positive characteristics (Dion). Saladin et al- photos of men and ability to commit murder/armed robbery, attractive men considered less likely. Steward- attractive people received shorter sentences. Effect varies with type of crime; unattractive were given longer sentences for burglary but shorter for fraud. Gender biases, publication bias. Ethnic groups also show disadvantage. Pfeifer and Ogloff- white participants more likely to find a black defendant guilty in a **** case than a white defendant. Baldus et al- black defendants 4x more likely to receive death penalty. Feingold found no overall effect of ethnicity on mock juries.

Majority influence: Conformance (Asch) + Group polarisation. Hastie et al- final verdict was that held by majority before deliberation. Pressure may come from normative or informational influence. Smith and Mackie- majority has varied opinions, deeper discussions and greater confidence.

Minority influence: Moscovici et al- similar to Asch's study, when 2 of 6 p's consistantly gave the wrong answer, the error rate of real p's was 8.42%. Need to be consistent. Larger minorities more effective (Tindale).

Much of the research is mock juries, lacking ecological validity. No real consequences for mock juries.

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Theories of Crime

Intro:                                                                                                                                                                   Introduce theories, how they differ.

Biological:                                                                                                                                                                    Runs in families. Mednick et al- found 13% of sons with non-criminal fathers had convictions, but 20% of sons with criminal fathers did. This is proved to be non environmental with 14% of sons with adoptive fathers. XXY chromosome (Jacobs et al)- 7 out of 196 criminals had this gene when the fig for the UK is 1 in 1000. Testosterone has been found in higher levels in men and women who committed violent crimes (Dabbs). Virkkunen et al- low serotonin turnover found in violent offenders.

Social:                                                                                                                                                                    Social Learning Theory can be linked to crime. Children observing violent behaviour from role models will be motivated to reproduce it (also vicarious reinforcement). Eron found positive correlation between level of violence on TV and children's aggressiveness. Poverty has been associated, Box found a positive correlation between economic inequality and crime. Delinquents more likely to come from broken homes (Bolwby's 44 juvenile theives). Larger families also have an impact on delinquency. An application of SLT is TV censorship.

Conlusion:                                                                                                                                                                 Mixture of both biological and social theories as too simplistic alone.

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Factors Affecting the Accuracy of Eye Witness Test

Intro: Discuss accuracy and what can affect it.

Reconstructive memory: Filling in gaps in memory, relying on stereotypes. Schema theory- prejudices and stereotypes influence how we recall information. Allport and Postman- two men on a subway train, p's remember the black man holding open razor, however it was the white man holding it. Bartlett's american folk tale and english p's reconstructions.

Weapon Focus: Loftus- weapon distracts the witness from the criminals face as they concentrate on the weapon. Participants were shown video of a man pointing a gun at a cashier, p's focussed on weapon and most were unable to identify the perpetrator.

Flashbulb memories: Long lasting memory of highly important and dramatic events. Trigger in moments of high emotional arousal. Conway- reaction to Margaret Thatcher's resignation. 86% of Britons had FBM 11 months later. However, Wright interviewed people about the Hillsbourough disaster, after 5 months most people didn't report strong FBMs only vague memories. Cutshall interviewed witnesses from a real life shooting, 5 months after the event, witnesses' EWTs were still accurate and did not diminish.

Conclusion: EWT can be accurate, however not in every situation.

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Treatment and Punishment of Crime

Cognitive therapy: Change irrational thoughts to rational, problems with self control, lacking empathy, unable to see another perspective, poor moral reasoning. ETS (enhanced thinking skills) and R+R (reasoning and rehabilitation). ETS- attend 20 two hour sessions to learn skills such as thinking before acting. R+R- offenders attend sessions in groups of 6, as they are typically lacking social skills, values, attitudes and reasoning. Works better with medium to high risk offenders. Change thinking patterns rather than just punishing. Hollin found this to be more effective. Possibly not long term benefits, gender biased (developed for use of men).

Behavioural therapy: Based on operant conditioning, uses token economy (TES), exchanged for primary reinforcers which should be given immediately and consistently. Punishment such as isolation is used to reduce non desired behaviours. Tailored to each individual and can be changed as behaviour improves. Doesn't treat cause of behaviour, can increase bullying etc.

Zero tolerance: Kelling and Wilson suggested that a neighbourhood could degenerate if one window is broken and left unrepaired, downward spiral. This could be tackled with zero tolerance against minor crimes to prevent escalation. Vicarious reinforcement, norms of minor crime, therefore vicarious punishment is necessary. William Bratton changed New York by applying ZT in 1990, crime dropped 37% and homicides 50%. However this could be due to extra 7000 officers, also crime has fallen elsewhere in America (Pollard). Bachmann found drug use in the army fell when ZT was implimented.                                                                                                   Conclusion: Cognitive and behavioural therapies for use in prisons, zero tolerance to prevent further crime.

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Approaches to Profiling

Intro: Helps police identify perpetrators of serious crimes. Aim to produce descriptions which are used in the search.

US (top down) approach: Based on interviews with 36 convicts and collection of information from the behioural science unit. Criminals classified into organised (planned murders, intelligent, target stranger) and disorganised (unplanned, lower intelligence, target someone they know). 4 stages, data assimilation, crime classification, crime reconstruction, profile generation. Doesn't solve, interviews were biased (small oppertunity sample), limited use, simplistic.

UK (bottom up) approach: Interpersonal coherance- behaviour at crime scene will reflect their everyday lives, eg some rapists are violent and abusive, others are less violent, indicating how they respond to women normally. Canter produced an accurate profile of John Duffy using this method. Patterns also occur eg rapists who conceal their fingerprints are likely to have been previously convicted for burglary. More scientifc than US as it is based on more psychological theories and methodologies. However Canter's theory only really applies to men. Copson asked police officers who had used profiling if they thought it was useful. 80% agreed it was useful however only 14% said it had assisted in solving a case.

Conclusion: Both approaches have been sucessful, however some disagree with profiling altogether. Campbell suggested you could get no more information from a local barman.

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