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Validity, Inter-Rater Reliability, and Measures of Adaptive Behavior: Concerns Regarding the Probative Versus Prejudicial Value

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The question as to whether the assessment of adaptive behavior (AB) for evaluations of intellectual disability (ID) in the community meet the level of rigor necessary for admissibility in legal cases is addressed. Adaptive behavior measures have made their way

The question as to whether the assessment of adaptive behavior (AB) for evaluations of intellectual disability (ID) in the community meet the level of rigor necessary for admissibility in legal cases is addressed. Adaptive behavior measures have made their way into the forensic domain where scientific evidence is put under great scrutiny. Assessment of ID in capital murder proceedings has garnished a lot of attention, but assessments of ID in adult populations also occur with some frequency in the context of other criminal proceedings (e.g., competence to stand trial; competence to waive Miranda rights), as well as eligibility for social security disability, social security insurance, Medicaid/Medicare, government housing, and post-secondary transition services. As will be demonstrated, markedly disparate findings between raters can occur on measures of AB even when the assessment is conducted in accordance with standard procedures (i.e., the person was assessed in a community setting, in real time, with multiple appropriate raters, when the person was younger than 18 years of age) and similar disparities can be found in the context of the unorthodox and untested retrospective assessment used in capital proceedings. With full recognition that some level of disparity is to be expected, the level of disparity that can arise when these measures are administered retrospectively calls into question the validity of the results and consequently, their probative value.

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2018-02-01

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Moral Disengagement in Legal Judgments

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We investigated the role of moral disengagement in a legally‐relevant judgment in this theoretically‐driven empirical analysis. Moral disengagement is a social‐cognitive phenomenon through which people reason their way toward harming others, presenting a useful framework for investigating legal judgments that

We investigated the role of moral disengagement in a legally‐relevant judgment in this theoretically‐driven empirical analysis. Moral disengagement is a social‐cognitive phenomenon through which people reason their way toward harming others, presenting a useful framework for investigating legal judgments that often result in harming individuals for the good of society. We tested the role of moral disengagement in forensic psychologists’ willingness to conduct the most ethically questionable clinical task in the criminal justice system: competence for execution evaluations. Our hypothesis that moral disengagement would function as mediator of participants’ existing attitudes and their judgments—a theoretical “bridge” between attitudes and judgments—was robustly supported. Moral disengagement was key to understanding how psychologists decide to engage in competence for execution evaluations. We describe in detail the moral disengagement measure we used, including exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses across two separate samples. The four‐factor measure accounted for a total of 52.18 percent of the variance in the sample of forensic psychologists, and the model adequately fit the data in the entirely different sample of jurors in a confirmatory factor analysis. Despite the psychometric strengths of this moral disengagement measure, we describe the pros and cons of existing measures of moral disengagement. We outline future directions for moral disengagement research, especially in legal contexts.

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2017-11-07

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The “Dark Side” of Institutional Trust

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The majority of trust research has focused on the benefits trust can have for individual actors, institutions, and organizations. This “optimistic bias” is particularly evident in work focused on institutional trust, where concepts such as procedural justice, shared values, and

The majority of trust research has focused on the benefits trust can have for individual actors, institutions, and organizations. This “optimistic bias” is particularly evident in work focused on institutional trust, where concepts such as procedural justice, shared values, and moral responsibility have gained prominence. But trust in institutions may not be exclusively good. We reveal implications for the “dark side” of institutional trust by reviewing relevant theories and empirical research that can contribute to a more holistic understanding. We frame our discussion by suggesting there may be a “Goldilocks principle” of institutional trust, where trust that is too low (typically the focus) or too high (not usually considered by trust researchers) may be problematic. The chapter focuses on the issue of too-high trust and processes through which such too-high trust might emerge. Specifically, excessive trust might result from external, internal, and intersecting external-internal processes. External processes refer to the actions institutions take that affect public trust, while internal processes refer to intrapersonal factors affecting a trustor’s level of trust. We describe how the beneficial psychological and behavioral outcomes of trust can be mitigated or circumvented through these processes and highlight the implications of a “darkest” side of trust when they intersect. We draw upon research on organizations and legal, governmental, and political systems to demonstrate the dark side of trust in different contexts. The conclusion outlines directions for future research and encourages researchers to consider the ethical nuances of studying how to increase institutional trust.

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2016

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Self-Efficacy and Confidence: Theoretical Distinctions and Implications for Trial Consultation

Description

Self-Efficacy Theory (SET; Bandura, 1986, 2000) has generated research and practice ramifications across areas of psychology. However, self-efficacy has yet to be assessed in a legal context. The present paper juxtaposes self-efficacy with self-confidence in terms of theoretical foundations and

Self-Efficacy Theory (SET; Bandura, 1986, 2000) has generated research and practice ramifications across areas of psychology. However, self-efficacy has yet to be assessed in a legal context. The present paper juxtaposes self-efficacy with self-confidence in terms of theoretical foundations and practical implications, with attention to the area of witness testimony. It is concluded that the concept of witness self-efficacy possesses thorough theoretical grounding as a potential target for witness preparation. As such, we put forth an integrated model of witness preparation featuring self-efficacy bolstering techniques within an established witness training framework.

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2009

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Measuring Abuse Sequelae: Validating and Extending the Trauma Symptom Checklist-40

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The current study used the Trauma Symptom Checklist-40 (TSC-40) to index both childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and childhood physical abuse (CPA) in a college student sample of both men and women (N = 441). Although the TSC-40 was designed as

The current study used the Trauma Symptom Checklist-40 (TSC-40) to index both childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and childhood physical abuse (CPA) in a college student sample of both men and women (N = 441). Although the TSC-40 was designed as a measure of CSA trauma, this study concludes the measure is appropriately reliable for indexing the traumatic sequelae of CPA as well as CSA in nonclinical samples. The current study also explored the effects of gender and abuse severity on resulting symptomatology, finding that women and severely abused individuals report the most negative sequelae. Both CSA and CPA emerged as significant explanatory variables in TSC-40 scale scores beyond gender, supporting its validity for indexing traumatic sequelae in nonclinical samples.

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2013

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The Propriety of Preemptory Challenges for Perceived Personality Traits

Description

There is substantial controversy over the extent to which social science should be used in jury selection. Underlying the debate are two competing interests in the make-up of a jury: a privilege to strike prospective jurors on subjective grounds, which

There is substantial controversy over the extent to which social science should be used in jury selection. Underlying the debate are two competing interests in the make-up of a jury: a privilege to strike prospective jurors on subjective grounds, which supports scientific jury selection, and a collective interest of citizens to be free from exclusion from jury service, which does not. While the incommensurability of the interests precludes resolution of the controversy in the abstract, specific solutions are possible. Using the example of selection of jurors based upon their respective levels of extraversion, we describe how the competing interests frequently do not apply to concrete cases. In the subsequent analysis, we show that, rhetoric notwithstanding, a normative preference for adhering to tradition and institutional inertia are the primary instrumental considerations for determining whether peremptory challenges based upon personality traits like extraversion ought to be allowed. Consistent with this analysis, we conclude that the practice of striking jurors based upon estimates of such personality traits is appropriate.

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Date Created
2013

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The Dimensionality of Trust-Relevant Constructs in Four Institutional Domains: Results From Confirmatory Factor Analyses.

Description

Using confirmatory factor analyses and multiple indicators per construct, we examined a number of theoretically derived factor structures pertaining to numerous trust-relevant constructs (from 9 to12) across four institutional contexts (police, local governance, natural resources, state governance) and multiple participant-types

Using confirmatory factor analyses and multiple indicators per construct, we examined a number of theoretically derived factor structures pertaining to numerous trust-relevant constructs (from 9 to12) across four institutional contexts (police, local governance, natural resources, state governance) and multiple participant-types (college students via an online survey, community residents as part of a city’s budget engagement activity, a random sample of rural landowners, and a national sample of adult Americans via an Amazon Mechanical Turk study). Across studies, a number of common findings emerged. First, the best fitting models in each study maintained separate factors for each trust-relevant construct. Furthermore, post hoc analyses involving addition of higher-order factors tended to fit better than collapsing of factors. Second, dispositional trust was easily distinguishable from the other trust-related constructs, and positive and negative constructs were often distinguishable. However, the items reflecting positive trust attitude constructs or positive trustworthiness perceptions showed low discriminant validity. Differences in findings between studies raise questions warranting further investigation in future research, including differences in correlations among latent constructs varying from very high (e.g., 12 inter-factor correlations above .9 in Study 2) to more moderate (e.g., only 3 correlations above .8 in Study 4). Further, the results from one study (Study 4) suggested that legitimacy, fairness, and voice were especially highly correlated and may form a single higher-order factor, but the other studies did not. Future research is needed to determine when and why different higher-order factor structures may emerge in different institutional contexts or with different samples.

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Date Created
2016-03-31