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Psychology and Law (Research Paper Sample)

This assignment is your chance to apply some aspect of the course to a particular area of the law. You are going to put yourself in the role of a psychology 'expert' on a particular area related to the law – pick a topic that is of particular interest to you that we have discussed in the lectures of that you have read about in the text.  You are an experimental psychologist - not a clinician - for this project. That is, you will be testifying as an expert in a particular area of research, rather than as a psychologist who sees and treats patients. You are going to briefly describe a case (made up or real) for which you have been called as an expert (and explain what it is they want you to help with) and then you will discuss the latest empirical/experimental research to assist the court with its decision in this case. For example, if the case you chose involved a defendant who claimed that the witness who picked him out of a line-up was wrong, because he/she was shown this defendant's photo in colour while the rest were in black and white (yes, that actually happens!) you would then write a paper as an expert on photo line-ups, describing for the courts how this SHOULD be done, based on the latest empirical/experimental research in the field. You will then make recommendations in the case; if you feel the line-up was done correctly based on your research and your understanding of how the line-up was conducted in this case, you would recommend that the court accept this evidence. If you feel it was done poorly, you would explain why the court should not admit this evidence.  As you are writing a court 'brief' you will have to write clearly and succinctly so as to get across your key points in quite a limited space.  An important thing to keep in mind is that this course is called "PSYCHOLOGY and Law”, not Sociology, or Criminology. That means your paper needs to have a psychological basis, focus, emphasis, flavour, whatever you want to call it. You should indicate if you are writing for a particular "side" (Crown or Defense) or not but the focus of the paper is really on demonstrating your in-depth knowledge of how things should work, if done properly. You will therefore be expected to know the latest empirical research in your area of interest. Your paper should reflect that. You need at least 3 solid references, ones that are as current as possible. These articles should come from peer-reviewed psychology journals, not “pop” psych sources, the internet, or books (though you can include information from these other sources in addition to your main 3, but not instead of them). You should incorporate these references into your paper (as discussed below) and end with a specific recommendation (or two) on the topic in general. Note that your job is to incorporate this material into your paper by paraphrasing and summarizing the work (while still citing the source appropriately). You should not be including direct quotes from these papers unless there is absolutely no other way to say something - you don't want to cut and paste from others' work but instead clearly demonstrate that you understand what you are reading. It is rare to find direct quotes in published journal articles. You also want to avoid any risk of plagiarism so if in doubt, please ask me - that is what I am here for. The paper should not simply be a re-telling of a particular topic we have already discussed. It is also important to note that this paper should not be a literature review simply covering a topic that is already discussed thoroughly in the literature - the idea is to take that material and apply it to a particular case to show how it might be used. A small note about topics - you are providing information about an issue that may (hypothetically) help the court understand something more clearly. As noted above, this is not the same as a psychologist who might be working with the Crown or Defense throughout a trial - so, you will not be (for example) doing research as a clinical psychologist talking about what the defendant in the case told you during therapy or anything like that. This is not a clinical psychology course and your perspective will be more broad than this, focusing on experimental/empirical work.  Just to reiterate, you are not a psychologist assessing a defendant or a witness, but rather you are focusing on how the procedures already used in this case are working (or not) and why. Format I don't expect you to learn "legalese" in the few weeks that you are taking this course, so your term assignment only need conform to basic A.P.A. (American Psychological Association) style. Much of the information contained in the Publication Manual of the APA relates to details for empirical papers destined for publication (the authors hope) in scholarly journals such as those you will likely be accessing to research your own paper for the course. But you don't need to worry about a Method section, Results, Discussion, and so on for your paper. I am assuming that most of you are familiar with APA style - if not, you should know that perhaps the biggest feature of APA style over some other formats is the recommended way to cite works (books, articles, chapters, websites, etc.) that support something you're saying. First of all, those are the only works you should cite, in a section called ‘References' at the end of your paper; as opposed to a ‘Bibliography', which refers to all the materials you read in preparation for the paper, but to which you did not necessarily actually refer. Second, you should cite those works the way the authors of our chapters do. If you write, "The crime rate in Canada has gone down slightly over the past 10 years", you should cite the work from which you received that information by putting the author's name and the date of the work's publication in parentheses after your statement: "The crime rate in Canada has gone down slightly over the past 10 years (Smith, 1997)." You would then include the Smith work in your references section. All of this is opposed to using footnotes or endnotes for referencing purposes. You can use your textbook as a guide to how this should look, and you are welcome to talk to me about it any time. If you need any help in getting started with a topic, or trying to find appropriate sources, let me know and I can help to get you started. Start early - the research for this will take more time than what you can pull together the night before.

Remember that the penalty for late assignments is 5% per day. Structure The key to a good paper - particularly a short one -  is explicit organization - your report should clear sections; you can provide a very brief overview of the ‘case' and the issue that you are being asked to clarify or decide, the literature review to support your opinions (which should include some depth regarding the details of the studies you are describing), and your conclusion(s) and specific recommendations for this case. Therefore, don't forget to come back to your particular case/issue! You can use headings if you wish but they are not required. 
Specific Details Your paper should be no more than 4-6 pages in length (not including cover page, if you have one, or references which you will have), double-spaced, based on 8.5 by 11 inch paper, with 1 inch margins. It should be in Word, WordPerfect or PDF format. You will need "enough" references to support your paper - in this case, at least 3, from peer-reviewed journals to ensure the most up-to-date information. You will upload your paper to the drop-box under the assignment link rather than in hard-copy form. While there will be some variation here, you shouldn't spend much more than half a page reiterating the background for your case. The bulk of the paper should be your literature review, but don't forget to link everything back to your specific case example, and provide a conclusion and/or recommendation in this case. Please let me know if you have any questions. 

So try to have fun with your paper. Choose a topic that you find intrinsically interesting. Use this as an opportunity to express your knowledge about a particular issue, and to learn more about it. Make sure to keep your focus relatively narrow as well. You wouldn't be expected to talk about everything relating to eyewitness evidence, for example, but might instead focus on how the line-up was constructed (see below), how the instructions were given to the witness, who was in the room for the identification, or any of a whole bunch of other possibilities. You don't have much space in which to demonstrate your expertise so pick one area you can then do lots of research on. A quick example illustrating basic structure: Opening: On September the 8th, 2009, a bank at the corner of Queen and John was robbed. Mrs. Smith reported seeing a man fleeing the scene. Joe Green was later arrested and charged and Mrs. Smith identified him in a 6-pack photo line-up. The defense is arguing that the eyewitness identification was flawed as Mr. Green's photo was the only one that appeared in colour while the others were in black and white and also that the six-pack method is outdated; they have asked that this information be excluded from trial. I, Clarence Darrow, as an expert on eyewitness identification procedures, have been asked by the Defense to comment on these procedures and provide information to the court regarding the admissibility of these materials. Lit review: According to Wells et al (2003) line-ups should be done by using x, rather than y. They determined this by asking undergraduates to do the following task (details provided). This is similar to work by Meissner (2009) that also notes that z is also something that should be taken into consideration. This was demonstrated in a study where they asked intro psych students to do a, and then measured b (details provided). Their results indicated that c happens. Alternatively, others (Clarke, 2006) argue that it is okay to do a 6-pack lineup under the following conditions. This was determined by asking participants to do e, while manipulating f. Their findings supported the idea that g often happens. Summary/Recommendations: taken together, the empirical literature clearly shows that h is the right way to do this. Given that the police did not do h but rather j, then I would recommend the court consider dismissing this identification. source..
PSYCHOLOGY AND LAW NAME: UNIVERSITY: On the 20th of October, 2010, Robert was hijacked his car on his way home from a party. Mr. Clayton reported that he had seen two people attacking the owner violently and speeding on the highway at a supersonic speed. After a few days Nicholas and Naphtali were arrested and charged and Mr. Clayton identified them by their body physique and the mode of dressing.. The defense argued that the eye witness identification was flawed, as the dressing code and body physique could not be used to charge an individual since people can have same tests and preferences in clothes and their judgment was baseless thus demanding the information provided to be excluded from trial. I as an expert on eye witness procedures, have been asked by defense to comment on this procedures and provide the information on the court concerning the authenticity of the information provided. Literature review: According to Kebbel, Evans& Johnson(2010) , the confidence on eye witnesses during the expression of information heavily influence the credence with which the jury give eyewitness testimony, thus whenever eye witnesses expresses their certainty to their answers as correct, their responses are always perceived to be accurate. Dunning &Peretta (2002) also relates the accuracy of eye witness to fast decisions and habitual where as Terrell &Weaver (2008) likens it to a memory that can be easily accessed thus leading to increased confidence in the accuracy of a particular response. Therefore a faster response goes hand in hand with accuracy and confidence of a particular response. The way a question is asked always affect the speed of retrieval as the speed with which memory retrieves may not correlate with the genuineness of the memory trace i.e. the use of specific articles may generate false recognitions. A study carried out by Kebbell , Evans &Johnson (2010), points out that the use of difference in language, can act as an important tool in a courtroom to aid in recalling of memory. In their study, participants were allowed to view a videotaped film and each individual asked question related to the incident viewed. Half of the participants were asked questions using various category of confusing questions that are often asked by lawyers in court .The confusing questions can be in the form of multiple questions, double negatives, leading, negatives, complex vocabulary and complex syntax where as the other half of the participants were interrogated for the same information but by use of phrased equivalents. It was confirmed that confusing questions always reduce participant-witnesses accuracy and also suppressed the level of confidence-accuracy relationships in relation to conditions where alternatives that are simplified in nature are asked. The aim of the study was to establish the influence of the complex questions asked by lawyers on the speed and accuracy with which witnesses responds, their confidence evaluated and how this factors influence the decisions made by jurors pertaining the accuracy of a witness. The findings confirmed that there is adverse impact of confusing questions compared to simplified ones as the accuracy of a witness is always hampered by being questioned using confusing statements thus halving the accuracy of the answers compared to the equivalents. The decrease in accuracy leads to making of incorrect judgments where by an individual may be denied justice and end up being convicted when in the real sense he was not a victim. In order to overcome this problem, witnesses and jurors should always be keen in order to distinguish between in-accurate and accurate responses. According to Surrett, Douglass & Burkhardt (2008), they argue that reliability on eyewitnesses that are facial composites in n...
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