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31 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back
Three important forensic psychology activities which assist law enforcement
1. profiling of criminal suspects, 2. use of polygraphy, 3. the evaluation of confessions.
Purpose and process of criminal profiling
Purpose: to narrow criminal investigations to suspects who posess certain behavioral and personality features that were revealed by the way the crime was committed.
Process: Profilers sketch a general psychological description of the most likely type of suspect.
Mass murderers
Kill 4+ victims in one location during a period of time (a few minutes to several hours). Motivated by revenge, harbor strong feelings of resentment, impulsive.
Spree killers
Attacker kills victims at 2+ different locations with no "cooling off" interval between the murders.
Serial killers
Kill 4+ victims each on separate occasions. Usually select a certain type of victim who fulfills a role in the killer's fantasies. Clever, capable of presenting themselves as normal members of the community, kill for idiosyncratic reasons.
Step 1 involved in criminal profiling
Profiling inputs: Collecting all info available about the crime.

Ex. physical evidence, autopsy reports, police reports.
Step 2 involved in criminal profiling
Decision process models: Profiler organizes the input into meaningful questions and patterns along several dimensions of criminal activity.

Ex. What type of homicide was committed? What is the primary impetus for the crime - sexual, financial, personal, or emotional disturbance?
Step 3 involved in criminal profiling
Crime assessment: Profiler attempts to reconstruct the behavior of the offender and the victim.

Ex. Was the murder organized? What was the motivation?
Step 4 involved in criminal profiling
Criminal profile: Profiler formulates an initial description of the most likely suspects.

Ex. race, sex, age, marital status...probable reaction to the police.
Step 5 involved in criminal profiling
Investigation: A written report is given to investigators, who concentrate on suspects matching the profile.
Step 6 involved in criminal profiling
Apprehension: The intended result of these procedures, arrest of a suspect, allows profilers to evaluate the validity of their predictions.
1990 investigation regarding the effectiveness of criminal profiling as practiced by real-life "experts"
4 groups evaluated 2 criminal cases (a homicide and sex offense).
Group 1: experienced profilers and police detectives
2: police detectives
3: clinical psychologists
4: undergrads

Results: profilers can produce useful and valid criminal profiles but the advantage may be limited to certain kinds of cases or types of avaliable info. (Profilers were more accurate about sex crime, no difference for homicide case.)
What does polygraph measure?
Blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, skin resistance to electrical current.
Relevant/irrelevant procedure
Intersperses relevant questions about the crime under investigation (Did you steal the cow?) with irrelevant questions that are unrelated to the crime and not stressful (What did you do on your last birthday?).
Control Question Test
Most popular approach. Examiner gathers biological info about subject and attempts to impress on him that he must be honest at all times during the test. Examiner tries to convince him that the polygraph is infallible; this strategy is meant to threaten guilty subjects at the same time that it reassures the innocent.
Guilty Knowledge Test
A series of multiple choice questions is created on basis of info and the suspect is presented with each question in order and is asked to respond to each choice. The underlying assumption is that people are more physiologically aroused when they perceive a meaningful stimulus.

The goal: to detect the presence of guilty knowledge in the suspect's mind, not to detect lying.
True positive
True negative
False negative
False positive
True positive: detecting a liar
True negative: believing a truthful suspect
False negative: believing a liar is truthful
False positive: disbelieving a truthful suspect
Field studies
Based on real-life investigations of subjects who have a large stake in being cleared of suspicion. Some data show that physiological responses from participants tested "in the field" are of greater amplitude that those tested in a lab.
Analog studies
Involve investigations of mock crimes staged by an experimenter who arranges students to be "guilty" and "innocent."
Brian Lea
Lea was accused of dumping pesticides on a former business partner's dead farm animals that were sold as food. Lea was indicted and charged for the offense.

He requested a polygraph exam that Werch (who he claimed was the real culprit) failed be allowed into evidence. The district court denied his request.
Federal Employee Polygraph Protection Act (1988)
Unless there's a public purpose, cannot use polygraph test. Private employers can't screen employees for honesty or past offenses.
Central park Jogger rape case
5 innocent suspects confessed. The boys and their parents claimed that the interrogations were highly coercive and the police used high pressure tactics.

Later, Matias Reyes confessed and DNA tests confirmed he was the attacker.
Earnest Miranda case
A woman was raped. She described her attacker but could not identify him. Frustrated, the police took Miranda, a suspect, to an interrogation room and told him he had been identified. he was questioned without attorneys present, no wintesses or tape recorders, and confessed. He was convicted, but appealed his conviction.

Now we have the Miranda rights, which include the right to remain silent during police questioning.
Fundamental attribution error
Jurors do not give sufficient importance to the external situation as a derterminant when considering a criminal confession; instead, they believe the behavior is caused by stable, internal factors unique to the actor.
The police sometimes encourage law-abiding people to commit crimes they otherwise would not have committed.
Defendants offer 2 explanations when dealing with entrapment
1. They were induced to break the law by a person(s) working for the police (often an informant).

2. They weren'tpredisposed to break that law - the police created a crime that otherwise wouldn't have happened.
Billy Burgess
Burgess chatted online with someone he thought was an underage girl, but was actually a man who turned him in to the police. He was charged with attempting to induce a minor to have sex and traveling in interstate commerce to have sex with a minor. He was convicted on all accounts.
Where two legal parties agree to something without comment.
Deserving of moral blame; implies fault rather than guilt.
A relationship signified by marriage of strong emotional bonding, mutual regard and affection (husband, wife).
A relationship between common ancestry, a bloodline relationship (family members only).