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Wrightsman’s Psychology and the Legal System, 8th Edition
WRIGHTMAN’S PSYCHOLOGY AND THE LEGAL SYSTEM shows you the critical importance of psychology‘s concepts and methods to the functioning of many aspects of today’s legal system. Featuring topics such as competence to stand trial, the insanity defense, expert forensic testimony, analysis of eye witness identification, criminal profiling, and many others, this best-selling book gives you a comprehensive overview of psychology’s contributions to the legal system, and the many roles available to trained psychologists within the system.
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This is the 8th edition of Psychology and the Legal System. Its longevity is a testament to the incisive, rigorous, and accessible presentation of the various aspects of psychology and law by Lawrence Wrightsman and his colleagues over the first five editions. Although Professor Wrightsman is no longer listed as an active author, the 6th, 7th, and 8th editions incorporate his name into the title to
honor his many contributions. As in the 7th edition, the sole authors are Edie Greene
and Kirk Heilbrun.
We continue to believe that the law is inherently psychological. It is made by people with varying desires and ambitions, interpreted by individuals with different (sometimes contradictory) perspectives, and experienced—either directly or indirectly— by all of us. Both psychology and the law are about motivation and behavior. Indeed, for centuries the legal system has been a powerful influence on people’s everyday activities. From the Supreme Court’s school desegregation decision of 1954 to its recent decisions concerning the constitutionality of mandatory life without parole sentences for adolescents (all described in this book), the courts have had considerable impact on individual lives.
As we move toward the middle of the second decade of the 21st century, we find it useful to describe the law from the perspective of psychology, a behavioral science that also has a significant applied component. We are not alone. In fact, matters of law and psychology are often cited in the media. Whether they involve training police in specialized responses to individuals with behavioral health problems, criminal trials of the rich and famous, the impact of trauma on human behavior, charges of racism in the criminal justice system, or debates about the utility and morality of capital punishment, headlines and lead stories are often about some aspect of psychology and law.
Although this attention appears to cater to an almost insatiable curiosity about crime and other types of legal disputes, it also promotes some ambivalence about the law. Many citizens are suspicious of the police, but police are still the first responders in a crisis. Juries are frequently criticized for their decisions, but most litigants would prefer to have their cases decided by juries rather than judges. Citizens value their constitutionally protected rights, but also demand security in a post-9/11 era. This 8th edition explores these tensions as well as many other captivating and controversial issues that arise at the crossroads of psychology and the law.
The primary audiences for Psychology and the Legal System are those students taking a course in psychology and the law, forensic psychology, or the criminal justice system, and others who seek to learn more about the legally relevant science and practice of psychology. This book (and its individual chapters) may also be used as a supplement in psychology courses that emphasize applied psychology, social issues, or policy analysis. In addition, it covers a number of topics relevant to law school courses that introduce law students to social science research findings and applications.
We have attempted to find the right mix of psychology and legal analysis in the text. The book’s emphasis remains on psychological science and practice, but we also summarize the legal history of many key topics and present the current status of relevant legal theories and court decisions. Specific recent topics that are covered in some detail in this edition include new forensic assessment measures, verbal and behavioral cues associated with deception, the effectiveness of diversion strategies of mentally ill individuals, cognitive aspects of trial judges’ decisions, the effectiveness of problemsolving courts, sentencing of juvenile offenders, and the community-based correctional rehabilitation of adult and juvenile offenders.
We continue to focus on the psychological dimensions of several topics that remain important in contemporary society, just as they were important when previous editions of this text were written. These topics include social influence effects of interrogations (involving children in investigative interviews and adults in interrogation rooms), clinicians’ assessments of competence in various domains, reforms to eyewitness
identification procedures based on research in perception, memory and social influence, recovery from victimization in light of our understanding of posttraumatic stress disorder, and racial influences on jury decision making. As in previous editions, we have updated each of these topics using the best available scientific evidence that has been published after our most recent edition went to press.
NEW FEATURES AND REVISIONS
We have made the following major changes from the last edition:
■ We have made Psychology and the Legal System more user-friendly by providing more current examples to illustrate the material in a straightforward and accessible way.
■ We have reordered some of the chapters so the information is presented more sequentially, in the order that the issues actually arise in the course of criminal investigations and litigation.
■ We have added an entirely new chapter on alternatives to traditional prosecutions, which covers arbitration, mediation, summary jury trials, diversion, specialized police responding, and problem-solving courts.
■ In each chapter, case summaries in boxes (“The Case of…”) have been updated. These summaries describe cases or trials that illustrate or explain an important legal concept or psychological principle covered in the chapter. Readers will be familiar with many of the recent cases, including those of Jerry Sandusky and Jared Loughner, as well as cases involving the interrogation of terrorist suspects. We
also feature the historic cases of Ernest Miranda, Clarence Gideon, John Hinckley, Ted Bundy, and others.
A few cases are either fictional (such as Dexter Morgan from the popular television series Dexter) or composites, but still highly applicable to the chapter material.
■ We have added a “critical thought question” at the end of each box. This question is intended to draw upon the material presented in the chapter, allowing readers to apply that material to a specific fact pattern. Although the raw material to answer these questions is available in each chapter, the process of answering each will also require the reader to think in a critical, integrative, and imaginative way.
■ We have updated our focus on the role of psychologists in the legal system and the ethical issues they face. Chapter 1 also introduces the conflicts that pervade a psychological analysis of the law: the rights of individuals versus the common good, equality versus discretion as ideals that can guide the legal system, discovering the truth or resolving conflicts as the goals that the legal system strives to accomplish,
and science versus the law as a source of legal decisions. We return to these conflicts several times throughout the book as we apply them to specific issues. This edition includes a thorough, authoritative revision of every chapter in light of research and professional literature published since the last edition. Highlights include the following:
■ Chapter 1 provides an overview of the field and details the roles that psychologists play in the legal system, including novel aspects of litigation consulting.
■ Chapter 4, on the psychology of police, includes expanded coverage of specialized police responses to individuals in behavioral health crisis.
■ Chapter 5 updates the reforms to lineup procedures in cases involving eyewitness identification based on recent scientific data on eyewitness memory.
■ Chapter 6 covers the psychology of victims of crime and violence. It expands the discussion of posttraumatic stress disorder and the relationship between adverse experience and various outcomes. It also includes a case example of the issues related to political prominence and accusation of sexual assault.
■ Chapter 7, on the evaluation of criminal suspects, includes updated discussion of the detection of deception, including brain-based lie detection.
■ Chapter 9, an entirely new chapter, discusses alternative dispute resolution in the forms of arbitration, summary jury trial, and mediation. It also addresses community-based alternatives to standard prosecution using the Sequential Intercept Model, with a particular focus on specialized police responding (at the earliest stage) and problem-solving courts such as drug court, mental health court, veterans court, and community court.
■ Chapter 11 describes updates on forensic assessment in civil cases, particularly new data on the evaluation of children and parents in the context of child custody litigation.
■ Chapter 12 provides a comparison between decisions made by judges and those made by juries, including some new data on these comparisons.
■ Chapter 13 expands the discussion of juries in the previous chapter to provide more detailed information about the competence of juries—particularly their ability to understand instructions, apply them, and decide complex cases. Juror bias is discussed in light of the recent highly publicized case of Jerry Sandusky and his conviction of multiple counts of sexual abuse of minors.
■ Chapter 14 describes traditional rationales for punishing offenders and also covers restorative approaches that allow victims and offenders to voice their perspectives in order to repair harms and resolve conflicts.
■ The appendices for this book are now available online at www.cengagebrain.com. They include the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct as well as the Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychologists, both of which provide ethical guidance for practice and research in forensic psychology. They also include the Bill of Rights, which describes the amendments to the United States
Constitution. For assistance in preparing this edition, Edie Greene thanks Andrew Evelo and Jessy Quigley, and Kirk Heilbrun thanks Anna Heilbrun. The authors jointly thank their editor, Timothy Matray, for facilitating a smooth and efficient process. They also thank Shiela Mary for photo research, Gunjan Chandola, who coordinated the production, and Kursten Hensl, who wrote the Instructors’ Manual. Each was extremely helpful in writing the 8th edition of Psychology and the Legal System.