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Are Forensic Experts Already Biased Before Adversarial Legal Parties Hire Them?

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This survey of 206 forensic psychologists tested the “filtering” effects of preexisting expert attitudes in adversarial proceedings. Results confirmed the hypothesis that evaluator attitudes toward capital punishment influence willingness to

This survey of 206 forensic psychologists tested the “filtering” effects of preexisting expert attitudes in adversarial proceedings. Results confirmed the hypothesis that evaluator attitudes toward capital punishment influence willingness to accept capital case referrals from particular adversarial parties. Stronger death penalty opposition was associated with higher willingness to conduct evaluations for the defense and higher likelihood of rejecting referrals from all sources Conversely, stronger support was associated with higher willingness to be involved in capital cases generally, regardless of referral source. The findings raise the specter of skewed evaluator involvement in capital evaluations, where evaluators willing to do capital casework may have stronger capital punishment support than evaluators who opt out, and evaluators with strong opposition may work selectively for the defense. The results may provide a partial explanation for the “allegiance effect” in adversarial legal settings such that preexisting attitudes may contribute to partisan participation through a self-selection process.

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  • 2016-04-28

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Forensic Clinicians’ Understanding of Bias

Description

Bias, or systematic influences that create errors in judgment, can affect psychological evaluations in ways that lead to erroneous diagnoses and opinions. Although these errors can have especially serious consequences

Bias, or systematic influences that create errors in judgment, can affect psychological evaluations in ways that lead to erroneous diagnoses and opinions. Although these errors can have especially serious consequences in the criminal justice system, little research has addressed forensic psychologists’ awareness of well-known cognitive biases and debiasing strategies. We conducted a national survey with a sample of 120 randomly-selected licensed psychologists with forensic interests to examine a) their familiarity with and understanding of cognitive biases, b) their self-reported strategies to mitigate bias, and c) the relation of a and b to psychologists’ cognitive reflection abilities. Most psychologists reported familiarity with well-known biases and distinguished these from sham biases, and reported using research-identified strategies but not fictional/sham strategies. However, some psychologists reported little familiarity with actual biases, endorsed sham biases as real, failed to recognize effective bias mitigation strategies, and endorsed ineffective bias mitigation strategies. Furthermore, nearly everyone endorsed introspection (a strategy known to be ineffective) as an effective bias mitigation strategy. Cognitive reflection abilities were systematically related to error, such that stronger cognitive reflection was associated with less endorsement of sham biases.

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  • 2019-09-10

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Forensic Psychology and Correctional Psychology: Distinct but Related Subfields of Psychological Science and Practice

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This paper delineates two separate but related subfields of psychological science and practice applicable across all major areas of the field (e.g., clinical, counseling, developmental, social, cognitive, community). Forensic and

This paper delineates two separate but related subfields of psychological science and practice applicable across all major areas of the field (e.g., clinical, counseling, developmental, social, cognitive, community). Forensic and correctional psychology are related by their historical roots, involvement in the justice system, and the shared population of people they study and serve. The practical and ethical contexts of these subfields is distinct from other areas of psychology – and from one another – with important implications for ecologically valid research and ethically sound practice. Forensic psychology is a subfield of psychology in which basic and applied psychological science or scientifically-oriented professional practice is applied to the law to help resolve legal, contractual, or administrative matters. Correctional psychology is a subfield of psychology in which basic and applied psychological science or scientifically-oriented professional practice is applied to the justice system to inform the classification, treatment, and management of offenders to reduce risk and improve public safety. There has been and continues to be great interest in both subfields – especially the potential for forensic and correctional psychological science to help resolve practical issues and questions in legal and justice settings. This paper traces the shared and separate developmental histories of these subfields, outlines their important distinctions and implications, and provides a common understanding and shared language for psychologists interested in applying their knowledge in forensic or correctional contexts.

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  • 2018-04-01

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Discerning Bias in Forensic Psychological Reports in Insanity Cases

Description

This project began as an attempt to develop systematic, measurable indicators of bias in written forensic mental health evaluations focused on the issue of insanity. Although forensic clinicians observed in

This project began as an attempt to develop systematic, measurable indicators of bias in written forensic mental health evaluations focused on the issue of insanity. Although forensic clinicians observed in this study did vary systematically in their report-writing behaviors on several of the indicators of interest, the data are most useful in demonstrating how and why bias is hard to ferret out. Naturalistic data was used in this project (i.e., 122 real forensic insanity reports), which in some ways is a strength. However, given the nature of bias and the problem of inferring whether a particular judgment is biased, naturalistic data also made arriving at conclusions about bias difficult. This paper describes the nature of bias – including why it is a special problem in insanity evaluations – and why it is hard to study and document. It details the efforts made in an attempt to find systematic indicators of potential bias, and how this effort was successful in part but also how and why it failed. The lessons these efforts yield for future research are described. We close with a discussion of the limitations of this study and future directions for work in this area.

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  • 2018-04-19

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Moral Disengagement in Legal Judgments

Description

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

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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Not Just Welfare Over Justice: Ethics in Forensic Consultation.

Description

The ethics of forensic professionalism is often couched in terms of competing individual and societal values. Indeed, the welfare of individuals is often secondary to the requirements of society, especially

The ethics of forensic professionalism is often couched in terms of competing individual and societal values. Indeed, the welfare of individuals is often secondary to the requirements of society, especially given the public nature of courts of law, forensic hospitals, jails, and prisons. We explore the weaknesses of this dichotomous approach to forensic ethics, offering an analysis of Psychology's historical narrative especially relevant to the national security and correctional settings. We contend that a richer, more robust ethical analysis is available if practitioners consider the multiple perspectives in the forensic encounter, and acknowledge the multiple influences of personal, professional, and social values. The setting, context, or role is not sufficient to determine the ethics of forensic practice.

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  • 2013-12-28

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Immediacy Premium: A Linear Estimator of Hyperbolic Delay Discounting Rate (k).

Description

The estimation of delay discounting rates (k) typically assume that the relative subjective value of a reinforcer declines as a reciprocal function of its delay. Despite the prevalence, estimates of

The estimation of delay discounting rates (k) typically assume that the relative subjective value of a reinforcer declines as a reciprocal function of its delay. Despite the prevalence, estimates of k based on least-squares fits of relative subjective value to the hyperbolic discount function appear to have serious limitations. This curve-fitting method provides curves, which when averaged, may not accurately reflect the individual subjects’ data. The present study used the hyperbolic discounting function to derive a new dependent measure, termed immediacy premium, which is a linear function of delay. By averaging linear rather than reciprocal functions, the averaged data are more representative of individual data, and comparisons between mean data across treatments or samples is more meaningful. Based on data published, the assumptions of least-square based estimates were evaluated for estimation methods based on relative subjective value and immediacy premiums. This analysis yielded mixed support for each method, thus advising for the implementation of both methods when drawing inferences on treatment effects and population differences.

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  • 2019-05

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Fooled Them Again: Combating Impostor Phenomenon in First-Time Freshmyn with Self-Compassion

Description

Impostor Phenomenon (IP) is defined as an occurrence in individuals who have difficulty internalizing success, and live in constant fear of the "mask being unveiled," or being exposed as a

Impostor Phenomenon (IP) is defined as an occurrence in individuals who have difficulty internalizing success, and live in constant fear of the "mask being unveiled," or being exposed as a fraud (Clance, 1985). It is estimated that 70% of the population will experience at least one episode of Impostor Phenomenon in their lifetime. (Gravois, 2007) This study surveyed 120 first-time freshmyn at Arizona State University West campus to gain access to demographic information, first-year programming attendance, and their Impostor Phenomenon scores using the Clance Impostor Phenomenon Scale. After the data was analyzed, it was determined that there were no significant findings between Impostor Phenomenon scores, honors status, and generational status, nor were there statistically significant findings when compared against age, gender, and first-year programming attendance. The average score for all students surveyed ranged in the "frequent bouts" of Impostor Phenomenon, which is the third-highest level of Impostor Phenomenon. Although there are no statistical differences between the identified groups, it is important to note that the average scores are high, and that changes can be made to first-year programming to help lower the average Impostor Phenomenon scores. Teaching students self-compassion is one way to address the common symptoms of Impostor Phenomenon. In addition to background on self-compassion, this thesis offers suggestions on how self-compassion teachings could be incorporated into first-year programming to make students more comfortable and confident during their first year at Arizona State University.

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Date Created
  • 2018-05

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A Child's Ability to Learn Emotion Understanding and Coping Strategies

Description

Self-regulation in the form of coping with emotions is something that most people have effectively adapted to by adulthood. This is an organically learned process that begins in early childhood

Self-regulation in the form of coping with emotions is something that most people have effectively adapted to by adulthood. This is an organically learned process that begins in early childhood through play, parenting, education, and peer interactions. This study examines whether six children aged 4-5 (M age= 4.72, SD= 0.372, 50% female, 100% Caucasian) are able to understand basic emotions and how to cope with them through one of two protocols. The conditions were either directive instruction or embodied cognition, and children were evaluated with a pre and post-test measure. Findings did not indicate any significant effect of the conditions on memorizing coping mechanisms, nor did it indicate that there was a significant improvement in emotion understanding following the sessions. These findings were limited by the sample size and participant interest.

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Date Created
  • 2017-12

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An Examination of Prevalence Rates for Disordered Eating Behavior across Sexual Minority Undergraduate Men and Women

Description

Introduction: The current study aimed to explore the prevalence rates of binge-eating and weight compensatory behaviors across sexual minority undergraduate men and women. Methods: The sample included 3411 undergraduate men

Introduction: The current study aimed to explore the prevalence rates of binge-eating and weight compensatory behaviors across sexual minority undergraduate men and women. Methods: The sample included 3411 undergraduate men and women from a large public university. Participants completed a self-report online questionnaire regarding various personality, social networking, and health behaviors. Results: Analyses showed no difference in binge-eating for women, but statistically significant differences across sexual orientation groups for weight compensatory behaviors. Analyses for men showed statistically significant differences between sexual orientation groups for objective-binge eating and self-induced vomiting. There were no differences among men for other behaviors. Discussion: These findings demonstrate both statistically and clinically significant differences across sexual orientation groups indicating that gender as well as sexual orientation bear a correlation to the propensity to engage in certain disordered eating behaviors.

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  • 2017-05