Applying Research in Court settings

Psychological research impacts both the judicial authorities and the offenders with an understanding of the psychological being of a person helpful in making judgments and juries. Psychological research and study help provide an insight into criminal behaviors, actions and reactions of offenders, victims and even the judicial authorizes. With psychological research and forensics objective truths can be achieved with the motives of the accused easily deciphered as psychologists closes on the gap between human behavior and court systems (Steblat et al, 1999). Forensic psychology much helps the court systems identify and do away with the human error during trials as the system professional are often subject to personal shortcomings and biases. Forensic psychology therefor e aims at gaining some much needed insight into the human mind and applying such insight to shape up the court systems objectively. For instance, a person may not be judged criminally responsible if they dint possess a ‘mens rea’ at the time they committed the crime or out of insanity (Kassin et al., 2001).

Pretrial publicity involves the right of the defendant to get a fair trial and the press to publish information about the defendant and the alleged crime/s. pretrial publicity can have a major influence on the abilities of court proceedings, in favor or in suppress of the defendant. The tension between pretrial publicity and conducting of fair and justified trials serves a major test to the court systems. As a matter of fact, pretrial publicity much influences verdicts as jurors who have been exposed to negative pretrial publicity are much likely to discuss ambiguous facts of trial in a way that supports the case of the prosecution unlike those that are exposed to positive pretrial publicity, but in rare cases discuss such trial facts in a way that supports the cases of the defense. Also jurors expose to pretrial publicity can be either unwilling or unable to strictly follow the instructions chastising them from discussing pretrial publicity and rarely have the ability to correct jury members mentioning pretrial publicity (Kassin et al., 2001).

Often, forensic psychologists are called upon as professional eyewitnesses to testify on the insanity/sanity of the defendant and prove ‘diminished capacity’, which may not much change the verdict but can culminate into a softer sentence. In many of the cases that involve defense of an insanity or diminished mental capacity, forensic mental state experts’ testimony becomes a factor in determining the final verdict. From researching on the state of mind of the defendants, forensic professionals can ascertain the sanity/insanity and intention of the defendant when the crime was committed. From the study, ‘the effects of forensic psychology of trials and verdicts’ clearly shows that forensic psychology professionals can be of much influence on the final determinations in court proceedings. The psychological state as ascertained by the professionals can be used for or against the defendant to prove their sanity at the time of crime consequently affecting the verdict (Steblat et al, 1999).






Steblay, N. M., Besirevic, J., Fulero, S. M., & Jimenez-Lorente, B. (1999). The effects of pretrial publicity on juror verdicts: A meta-analytic review. Law and Human Behavior.


Article: Kassin, S., Tubb, V. A., Hosch, H., & Memon, A. (2001). On the general acceptance of eyewitness testimony research: A new survey of the experts. American Psychologist, Web:



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