Like every field of study that continues to branch, psychology is one of the domains that has seen diversification over the years. It was considered to be a part of the various fields before it emerged as an independent studying domain in the late 20th century. Today, psychology continues to enter all sectors including education, health, legalisation and many more.
The legal and judicial domains around the world realised the importance of psychology to assess the jurisdictions. This had led to the branching, growth and discovery of forensic psychology. Forensic psychology is a branch of psychology that studies people’s circumstances and evidence based on psychological parameters. These all inclusion are relevant to the civil, legal and judicial sectors. Forensic Psychology Sectors which is vast and know more about it.
With the continuous growth and expansion to forensic psychology meaning, the field of its investigation has increased too. There are various sectors of legislation and judicial proceedings that have accelerated the prominence of forensic psychology. In the information below, there will be elaboration on where is forensic psychology applied. There will also be a detailed explanation to how each sector uses the applications of forensic psychology. The information will also highlight various forensic psychology examples. Lastly, the article will take a complete note and summarise the forensic psychology fields and their usage of it.
Forensic Psychology – A Brief History
The founding roots of forensic psychology were planted by Wilhelm Wundt, who is widely recalled as the father of psychology. There were a series of psychological experiments conducted by him, which were inclined to legal issues. Since these instances, the field of forensic psychology has continued to expand. The prominent reason for its expansion was due to various psychologists conducting research in the forensic domains. After Wilhelm Wundt, it was James McKeen Catell, who had conducted psychological tests to study the eyewitnesses. (1)
After Catell’s advancement of forensic psychology meaning, Alfred Binet had expanded the work. He used the Catell’s format of psychological research and made modifications to study the law and criminal justice. Binet is also credited for his introduction of intelligence testing that further expanded the forensic psychology field. The further tools used in forensic psychology were widely based on Binet’s works. These works were later carried ahead by William Stern, who invested in understanding the recalling ability of the eyewitnesses.
Forensic psychology made a stretch into the courtrooms and judicial ventures. The first instance of this kind was reported in 1896. A European psychologist, Albert von Schrenck-Notzing used forensic psychology to study the witnesses in a murder trial. Further, psychologist Hugo Munsterberg made the application of the forensic psychology field through his book “On the Witness Stand.”
Later, Stanford psychologist Lewis Terman used the forensic psychology field in studying legal matters. Later, his usage of the Binet’s works and some modifications had provided the Stanford- Binet’s criteria to assess candidates for hirings in law offices. Further, in stretching out the forensic psychology field, the first modern polygraph detector was introduced. This was contributed through the works of psychologist William Marston. He discovered that high systolic blood pressure is related to lying.
The prominence to forensic psychology only grew after the subsiding of World War II. Currently, the applications of forensic psychology have moved ahead and are core to various fields. The growth of forensic psychology has led to prominence, awareness and need for a suitable education in the field. The need for forensic psychology has expanded to various sectors and domains. These are completely elucidated in the next section.
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Within the sphere of legal, civil and judicial proceedings, forensic psychology has penetrated various relevant sectors. Be it during the formation of law or to identify the key witness, forensic psychology continues to expand and reach into various fields. These are explained in detail below. (2)
The prominent advancement of the forensic psychology field is in the courtrooms. Before the forensic psychology introduction, the courtrooms had only space for verbal and physical evidence and verdicts. It followed a traditional pattern where the judge only reviewed and drew the conclusion to the case based on materialistic evidence. However, the advent of forensic psychology has changed the pattern, investigation and the proceedings carried out in a courtroom. A forensic psychologist’s duties is to propagate the revelation of the potential accused and victim’s psychological details. Further, it also involves revelation of the testimonies recorded from individual witnesses.
Another field that forensic psychology has advanced is the narcotic departments. The forensic psychologists are used in cases involving drug usage, abuse or smuggling. The primary task of a forensic psychologist differs as per the entity to investigate. If it is a drug dealer or smuggler, forensic psychologists would try knowing the history, mental state of the dealer and what got them into the business.
In case of entities that were prone to drug abuse, the tasks would primarily to know the after effects and mental well being. In case, if someone is a drug abuser, the forensic psychologist would understand the previous records, and the mental state to be an abuser. The demand for forensic psychology is also prominent in the narcotics department to understand various aspects. This includes knowing the physical, emotional and mental aftermaths of being under influence.
Since the advent of forensic psychology, it has become crucial for criminal jurisdiction. This field of psychology is essential to pinpoint the psychological aspects involved in a crime. These psychological aspects might directly or indirectly contribute towards the criminal act. In a criminal scenario, the tasks of forensic psychologists begin from identification of the clues to understanding the accused and the reason to commit the crime.
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A forensic psychologist invests in knowing the psychological clues and reasons that had prompted a crime. Once the accused is arrested, the forensic psychologist’s task is to know the mindset of the criminal and the past experiences. The past experiences are required to know whether the criminal has been exposed to any form of violence that had prompted criminal acts, possibly. Lastly, the forensic psychology field helps in devising the right actions taken towards a particular criminal act.
While most of us believe law to be made by the political and judicial proceedings, it also involves psychology to some extent. The laws are essentially the rules and duties that citizens need to abide by as residents of a country. When these laws are made, forensic psychology is involved to understand the potential psychological responses of the citizens. Involving forensic psychology in law making is also essential to know the possible range of fulfilment by the citizens.
This field of psychology also assists in understanding the population that would deviate, or react with extreme pessimism towards the law. Further, forensic psychology also helps in interpreting the psychological response of the various financially capable families towards the enforcement of a particular law. Forensic psychology is also essential in evaluating the expected changes or modifications that the entities need to make to fit the law in changing circumstances.
Bureaucratic and Law Recruitment
Just like how various sectors have employed psychology as an essential criteria for hiring, the law and bureaucracy has done too. Today, apart from clearing the civil examinations, the candidates are also tested on their psychological potentiality. The role of forensic psychology is to determine the possible symptoms or presence of psychological illnesses amongst the candidates.
Further, forensic psychology is also employed to understand the mindset and psychology of the candidates when given to provide a solution for a hypothetical situation. In law recruitment, the perspectives of the candidates are also understood regarding laws. This is done again, through the employment of forensic psychology tools. Lastly, forensic psychology is essential to make sure that the candidate exhibits a sound mind and body, in terms of working and handling pressure.
Child Abuse Detection
Forensic psychology is deployed in cases and situations that are potentially involved with child abuse. Most of the times, if a child abuse case is registred, the victim might not prefer to speak in presence of a family. In such a scenario, a forensic psychologist is employed in getting the instances and evidence from the child. Further, forensic psychology is also essential to prompt an investigation involving any sexual or physical damage to the child.
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This field of psychology is also required to determine the accused through the child’s statement, especially if it is someone from the family. Lastly, this field of psychology is essential in understanding the expected psychological affects to the child’s mind, incase of any child abuse instances. Forensic psychology has been prominently used in understanding child involvement in human trafficking, child labor, manual scavengers and more.
Devising Programs for Trauma Survivors
The use of forensic psychology is also in the program curation and execution, specifically for individuals who have survived a trauma. The first step to devising any kind of program for such a population, requires proper extraction of information. Forensic psychologists are deployed to understand a particular group’s trauma and its adversity. This begins with interviewing and communicating with each trauma survivor.
Further, this also includes knowing the triggering points of the trauma amongst the individuals. The next step for the forensic psychologists is to determine the common symptoms or causes of trauma amongst the group. Based on the commonality of the trauma factors, the plans or programs are to be devised. The programs are specifically designed by the forensic psychologists that aim at reducing the traumatic effects gradually. Lastly, the programs designed through the forensic psychology lens should also focus on diverting the group’s potential towards productivity.
Assessment of the Witness Credibility
In any legal or judicial case that requires the support of witnesses, the role of forensic psychology is considered essential. Forensic psychology is essential to not only assess the witnesses but also find the possible witnesses. In a scenario like this, the first task of the forensic psychologists would be to identify who the witnesses are. The witnesses will be the main channel for the forensic psychologists to understand the occurrence of a particular crime or legal misleading.
The next task for the forensic psychologists would be to eliminate weak witnesses and those with variations in statements. This is important to not propage any deviation from the main case or event. The witness credibility is assessed by forensic psychology based on a set criteria. If a witness is close or matches the criteria, he or she is taken towards the further proceedings and investigations.
Interpretation of Criminal Minds
One of the prominent sectors of forensic psychology is to invest in knowing the criminal world and the mindset of it. Prior to the advent of forensic psychology, the accused was punished based on the crime committed and the evidence in support of it. There were no provisions that could understand what the criminal thought and what his or her mindset was.
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However, with forensic psychology, it has become easier to not only find the right accused but also understand the state of mind. A forensic psychologist is deployed in understanding any specific events that had impacted the criminal’s mind. Further, there is also a complete investigation to understand the age when the criminal had begun using crime. The information collected by the forensic psychologists from the criminal is interpreted to understand the mindset.
Detecting Insanity Cases or Mens Rea
Another prominent field of applying forensic psychology is to understand the insanity of the prosecutor. In most of the cases, the criminals are accused and punished. However, with the penetration of forensic psychology in legal and judicial domains, there is a new dimension too. This field of psychology restricts actions if and only if the prosecutor is mentally retarded.
Forensic psychologists are invested in knowing and identifying any cases of insanity or “mens rea” amongst the charged accused. In such a scenario, the court is asked to adjourn the verdict and instead send the accused to correctional programs. However, there is a certain criteria adopted for determining insanity cases amongst the accused. Only if these criterias are met, the accused is determined to be mentally retaded and it becomes a case of “mens rea.”
These are the 10 sectors which reflect on the use of forensic psychology. These forensic psychology fields are essential to know the spheres that have been requiring psychology in legal and judicial domains. The advent of forensic psychology has transformed the traditional lens that was used to view the legal, civil and judicial frameworks.
In this article, there is complete elucidation about where is forensic psychology used. Further, there is a brief history of forensic psychology. Forensic psychology is credited to exist in early time due to the initial works of Wilhelm Wundt. Later, various other psychologists had carried forward his works to expand the field of forensic psychology. The forensic psychology field continued to expand from being into the legal framework to entering judicial proceedings. Currently, the development of forensic psychology is expanded to various domains covered under the legal, civil and judicial umbrella.
There are prominently ten sectors under the legal and judicial framework that require forensic psychology. These include courtrooms, narcotics, child abuse detection, law efnorcement, bureaccratic recruitment, correctional programs, criminal jurisdiction and witness crediblity.
A forensic psychologist’s duties is to propagate the revelation of the potential accused and victim’s psychological details. Throughout these sectors, there are certain aspects that are common in applications of forensic psychology. The forensic psychologists are required to interview, assess, evaluate and provide a reliable conclusion in each case. For this, it becomes essential for the forensic psychologists to investigate and go deep with each case.
In a nutshell, forensic psychology continues to exhibit the potential of expanding throughout various legal and judicial fields. It has provided a new lens to enforce and proceed. Forensic psychology stands as a major tool to not only elucidate a happening but also the underlying causes to it.
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Commonly Asked FAQs
- What is forensic psychology?
Forensic psychology is the field of psychology that investigates the legal, civil and judicial domains from a psychological perspective. It elaborates on legal and judicial cases that might be led and caused by psychological deformities. The forensic psychology field is invested in understanding the aspects in terms of the culprits, victims and other entities that are involved in legal battles and judicial proceedings.
- When was forensic psychology started?
Forensic psychology is credited to exist in early time due to the initial works of Wilhelm Wundt. Later, various other psychologists had carried forward his works to expand the field of forensic psychology. The forensic psychology field continued to expand from being into the legal framework to entering judicial proceedings. Currently, the development of forensic psychology is expanded to various domains covered under the legal, civil and judicial umbrella.
- What are the sectors covered under forensic psychology?
The sectors covered under forensic psychology are:
- Narcotics Department
- Criminal Jurisdiction
- Law Enforcement
- Bureaucratic and Law Recruitment
- Child Abuse Detection
- Is forensic psychology worthy?
Yes, forensic psychology is currently a trending pursuing course. This field of psychology introduced you to the legal and judicial framework through the psychological lens.
- What are the other fields of psychology in forensic psychology?
The other fields in forensic psychology are social psychology, clinical psychology, developmental psychology, behavioural psychology and more.