Teresa Clyne

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Forensic Psychology

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What is Criminology ?

Criminology examines why people commit crime, these are the pivotal questions in the ongoing debate of how crime should be handled and prevented. It is an area of law that deals with victims of crime, theories explaining illegal and/or deviant behaviour, the social reaction to crime, the effectiveness of anti-crime policies and the broader political terrain of social control.

Areas of expertise of Criminologists(small example)

Anomie, Social Control Theories
Labelling Theory and Critical Criminology
White Collar Crime

What is Forensic Psychology?

(The science of Behaviour)

Forensic Psychology is used within the justice system to assess offenders, identify criminal capacity in young people and to characterise psychopaths. Identify fitness to stand trial and finally they can be used to determine the likelihood of future violence. Can be used to assess the future criminality of offending minors

Areas of expertise of Forensic Psychologists (small sample)

Criminal Responsibility and Psychiatric Defences
Mental Disorder as a Defence
Eyewitness Testimony

What is Criminal Psychology?

Criminal Psychology (The study of criminal minds)

Criminal Psychology is in plain English, the study of why criminals do what they do. In essence, it is the study of the mental processes, motivational patterns, and behaviour of criminals.

Areas of expertise of Criminal Psychologists (small sample)

Offender Profiling
Geographical Profiling
Eye witness testimony


Chapter one  (Free Chapter, other Chapters are available on my ebook, Introduction to forensic Psychology in Ireland)

Introduction to Criminal Psychology

Ever since Cain killed his bother Abel, which was the first recorded murder, people have been fascinated by crime. [1] (Bartol and Bartol, 1999).  Since its introduction into mainstream society Criminal Psychology has become an integral part of criminology. [2] (Bartol and Bartol, 1999).

Professionals over the centuries have come up with explanations as to the concepts of crime, Aristotle said:” poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.”   Sir Francis Bacon said in (1600’s): “Opportunity makes a thief”.  Voltaire & Rousseau said (1700’s);”free will, hedonistic decision making, and the failure of the social contract in producing criminal behaviour”.  Classic theory suggests; “people choose to behave wrongly when they believe the benefits outweigh the costs”.

Criminal Psychology is the use of methods, theories & concepts of psychology within the legal and criminal judicial system.  These methods are mostly used for predicting the personality, behavioural, and demographic characteristics of an individual based upon an analysis of the crimes he or she has committed.   Criminal Psychologists are used in the assessment of offenders prior to sentencing, i.e.

The prosecution and defence may wish to know:

  • Whether the offender is competent to stand trial
  • Whether the offender was sane at the time the crimes were

They may also be responsible for the management of offenders during sentence and in the community upon release; they may be required to undertake risk assessment for sex offenders in treatment programmes. – Characteristically Criminal Psychologists are used in low volume serious crimes such as serial murder, serial rape, and serial arson. Criminal psychologists also act as expert witnesses and give evidence in court.

Insanity or Incompetent?


Relates to the defendants mental state at the time the offense occurs.


Competence refers exclusively to the defendant’s mental abilities at the time of the proceeding.

An insanity defence is based on the theory that most people can choose to follow the law; but a few select persons cannot be held accountable because mental disease or disability deprives them of the ability to make a rational/voluntary choice.

What is insanity?

The state of being mentally ill, insane, suffering from a separation from reality.  Fantasy and reality are often interchanged or intertwined.  “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein.

In order to give legal standing to a decision on insanity in Court, a definition of insanity for criminal defences was needed.  This is used for centuries and is know as the M’Naughton rule.

M’Naughton Rule

The insanity defence traces its roots back to the 1843 when Englishman Daniel McNaughton shot and killed the secretary of the Prime Minister, believing that the Prime Minister was conspiring against him.

McNaughton was acquitted “by reason of insanity,” and his sentence was to spend the rest of this life in a mental asylum.  This verdict caused a public outcry, and Queen Victoria ordered the court to develop a stricter test for insanity.

States that, in order to establish insanity, it must be proven that at the time of a crime, the accused had a mental defect (i.e. such as a mental disease) so that she/he did/could not know the nature or quality of their crime at the time of offense–or if the accused did not know that what she/he did was wrong.


History of Criminal Psychology

Psychological Tests that were applicable in Judicial proceedings were originally developed by Alfred Binet and Sigmund Freud their tests proposed that the time taken by the person to answer questions could be an important factor in estimating whether the person is the real culprit or not.[3]

People who influenced Criminal Psychology

In 1901 Dr. William Stern enlisted the aid of a criminologist in staging a test. The setting was a class on law. Stern staged a fake argument without the knowledge of assembled Readers. At the climax of this experimental argument one of the parties drew a gun. At this point the law professor steps in breaking up the fight.[4] This test was the forefront in the research undertaken by Munsterburg in the assessment of eyewitness testimony.

The forefather of criminal Psychology has always been believed to be Hugo Munsterburg

One of the first people in America to recognize and publish concerning the application of psychology to the justice system was Hugo Munsterburg (1863-1916).[5] (Dye. S, 2012)

Munsterburg argued on the basis of psychological research that eyewitness testimony was unreliable & shouldn’t be used by the legal system to give credence to criminal convictions. This was further backed up by other prominent professionals who claimed that eyewitnesses would not be trusted and in fact was successful in approximately 12% of convictions.[6].  (Buckhout, R. & Regan, S. (1988)).  Humans are fairly unreliable in how we process information.    We are heavily influenced by our emotions at the time of the crime (e.g., rape, assault), may focus our attention on salient features of the crime (e.g., weapon), unsuitable environmental conditions (e.g., darkness; rain) & stress may impair recollection.[7] (Kline. K 2008). Munsterburg published a book called;”on the witness stand”, in this book he noted that eyewitness testimony can be unreliable and how witnesses can be talked into false memories through the power of suggestion.

The first psychologist to testify in a civil trial was Karl Marbe in1922.  He offered testimony on the psychological issue of reaction time in a train accident case.   In the case the train’s engineer was accused of drinking alcohol prior to the accident.

William Marston

Another former student of Munsterburg. His studies drew the link between blood pressure and when a person is lying. These insights would later lead to polygraph testing. His testimony in 1923 would also become the basis for expert testimony in America.[8]

Donald Slesinger

The first psychologist to be hired as a professor in a law school was Donald Slesinger. In 1929 he was hired by Yale Law School as an associate professor. Slesinger taught the psychology of evidence. Later in 1930 he became the dean of the University of Chicago’s Law School.[9] (Dye. Sarah (2012))

Define Criminal psychology

Criminal psychology in simple words is – the study of human behaviour of criminals and the motivations behind committing a crime.  The wills, thoughts, intentions and reactions of criminals are observed keenly and then a report is prepared on this basis. The study also observes the reactions after the crime, on the run or in court.  Criminal Psychology is the study of criminal behaviour [10](Howitt, 2009) or the application of psychology to criminal investigations.

The experience and qualifications of a Criminal psychologist can be requested in determining the fitness of an offender to partake in the criminal trial and they can also be called as witnesses in court cases to help the jury understand the mind of the criminal.  Criminal psychologists can engage in activities ranging from creating profiles of offenders or victims based on available information to conducting psychological testing of people on trial for various crimes.  Forensic/Criminal psychology is used to apply psychological insights, concepts and skills to the understanding and functioning of the legal and CSJ.

The insights of someone trained in criminal psychology can be valuable in a criminal investigation. These psychological professionals can utilize a variety of clues to gain an insight into the nature of a crime and the person who committed it.[11]

The work of criminal psychologists, while they may be true for a small number, do not represent the wide variety of roles that those trained in criminal psychology can, and do, work.

The difference between Forensic Science and Forensic Psychology

*the table below is a small sample and not an exhaustive list

Forensic Sciences Forensic Psychology
Analyse, compare, identify & interpret physical evidence


Identify evidence & link it to the suspect, victim & crime scene

Apply Psychology to the Law


Expert witnesses in court


Decides offenders competence to stand trial

The role of a Criminal Psychologist

From assisting the Gardai in the investigations, to providing advice on interviewing of suspects or witnesses, Criminal Psychologists also work as expert witnesses in court cases, they can also work in the rehabilitation of offenders, conducting criminal psychology research or working in academia, the work of criminal psychologists is varied and wide reaching.

What is a Crime?

Societies define crime as the breach of one or more rules or laws for which some governing authority or force may ultimately prescribe a punishment.

What constitutes a crime tends to alter according to historical, cultural and power dimensions – it is time and culture bound

What Motivates a Crime?

The spiritual equipment of man

  • The natural urges or instinct
  • Temperament
  • Feeling or emotion
  • The will
  • The mind or intellect
  • Character

Define how crime changes by place and time

Can you think of anything that was seen as a crime but is no longer a crime more AND of any acts which are seen as criminal in one culture but not in another?

What is criminal psychology?

Criminal psychology in simple words is – the study of human behaviour of criminals and what motivates criminals to commit a crime.

Therefore it is the study of the psychological factors of the criminal psychological frame of mind.  It is based mainly on the motivation of crime, insofar as to examine the character, environment of the criminal and the process of the criminal behaviour.  Thus using psychological methods to explain crime itself and then bring evidence of a crime to light in order to help the investigation of crime, also to help the justice system to understand the criminals, and investigate offender correction and possible ways to reduce recidivism.

The term ‘criminal psychology’ has been defined in a number of ways. Even today there is no accepted definition.  But as a broad definition it could be said that; Criminal psychology is a branch of the field of psychology which focuses on criminals.  Researchers in criminal psychology are interested in what makes people commit criminal acts, ranging from the childhood environments of serial killers to the psychological pressures which lead people to rob banks to deal with financial crises or worries. Criminal Psychologists are also interested in the ways in which criminals deal with the aftermath of their crime, including criminals who choose to run or are difficult in court.  The term Criminal Psychologist has been in use for over 100 years but it was not until the 1980’s that this branch of psychology became recognised part of the processes of the judicial system in most common law legal systems.

In 1981 professor Lionel Harward, one of the UK’s foremost Criminal Psychologists described the four roles that psychologists may perform when they become professionally involved in criminal proceedings.[12] They are:

  1. Clinical

A psychologist usually assesses an individual in order to provide a clinical judgment. The psychologists could use interviews, assessments tools or psychometric tests to aid in his or her assessment. Mental illness is focused on.

  1. Experimental

A psychologist performing research in order to inform a case. The actual value that is running in the criminals mind is focused on. Illusion is judged.

  1. Actuarial

Actuarial relates to the use of statistics in order to inform a case. The likelihood of an offender to repeat the same offend is focused on.

  1. Advisory

A psychologist may provide advice to the Gardai about how to proceed with an investigation. Advice can also be given to the lawyers on how to cross-examine a vulnerable witness or another expert witness.  The criminal psychologist an invaluable asset in the court room. Apart from providing a second opinion, the criminal psychologist will also perform evaluations on criminals or their victims.

Criminal Investigations

The role of a psychologist in criminal investigation can take a number of forms.  Professor Laurence Alison has suggested a number of ways to which the knowledge of a psychologist may well be of assistance to the Gardai.

Alison Stated; “It is important to appreciate that the ways which psychologists can contribute extends well beyond the process of profiling offenders. Indeed the apprehension of the offender would be assisted by enhancing Gardai decision making and leadership skills, improving methods of interviewing witnesses and victims, developing accurate methods of recording, collating and analysing data on pre-convictions of offenders, developing suspect prioritization systems based on empirical research and enhancing intelligence-led policing and the use of informants” (Alison. L (2005))

Using Criminal Psychology in evaluating a Criminal Offender

Criminal Psychologists often assess offenders to establish whether they are fit to stand trial in court, or the likelihood of the offender to be violent in the future. There are a number of key issues to be considered when the criminal psychologist is making an assessment and these are outlined here:

N.B; All areas marked with * are actual results from research undertaken in Mountjoy Prison.[13] (O’Mahony, P (1993))

  • Family history [14]

1986 – 40% had first degree relative in prison

1996 – 50% had first degree relative in prison

  • Any history of abuse?
  • Was the offender ever removed from family?
  • Are there any close relatives who may be criminals?
  • *Offenders own criminal background [15]

1986 -58% had served a sentence in St. Patricks Institution.

1996 -77% had served a sentence in St. Patricks Institution

  • Types and amount of criminal convictions?
  • Types of victims? (Particularly their age and gender)
  • *Education[16]

1986 – 57% had dropped out of school before they were 15.

1996 – 50% had dropped out of school before they were 15.

  • Achievements at school? (Or lack of them)
  • Age left school?
  • Literacy skill level?
  • Numeracy skill level?
  • Attitudes
  • Opinions about crime and criminality?
  • Justifications of his or her offences?
  • Psychological traits
  • General intelligence level?
  • Any evidence of mental illness?
  • Any evidence of personality disorder?
  • Home life
  • Past relationships?
  • * Single or Married[17]

1986 -74% have never been married.

1996 -81.5 % have never been married

  • Present relationships?
  • *Children?[18]

1986- 46% reported having children.

1996 – 72% reported having children.

  • Work history?
  • *Residential circumstances?[19]

1986 -Over 75% came from Dublin, with the majority of others from urban areas.

1996 – 85% came from Dublin, with the majority of others from urban areas.

  • Economic circumstances?[20]
  • *Drug use

1986- 59% had used cannabis, 37% had used drugs other than cannabis.

1996- 86% had used cannabis, 77% had used drugs other than cannabis

  • *Alcohol abuse[21]

1986- 87% drank alcohol/ 80% smokers.

1996- 68% drank alcohol/ 91% smokers.

Case Study

Read the following; 

On the day that a young woman was at her mother’s funeral she happened to notice a boy whom she did not know.  She never believed in love at first sight, but this time, she was besotted, because he was just her type…

And few days later, the young woman without any kind of apparent reason killed her brother!

After the Gardai asked her why killed her brother, the answer she gave made even the hardest officer recoil.

Question; why did she kill her brother? Can you determine what her motivation was?

*This is not a real case, it is an example of a type of case a criminal psychologist would be working on


Differences between psychopaths and psychotics

When you think of a master criminal, there are a few images that you may think of over a few minutes, but there are a few images that may spring to mind immediately, an robber climbing through the window, the old adage of the mask over the eyes, and then of course the mastermind serial killer who evades the Gardai in his pursuit of autonomy, and evading capture, such as the offender who spent many years in the 1990’s who abducted so many young Irish women who have never been heard of since, their bodies have never been found.

When you think of a master criminal your imagination can come up with such visions as “Dexter” etc., if you are asked to imagine  master villains, you may imagine such villains as, the Riddler,  Catwoman, and the Joker. Lex Luther.

All of these super-villains represent people who are perpetrators of extreme criminal behaviour and defy the human ideas of morality. Such people have fascinated professionals for years.  These are the psychopaths.[22] (Cash, A. 2002)

Definitions of the psychopath are to be found in many legal and psychological text books. In fact, some professionals don’t see psychopaths as automatically criminals at all but rather as suffering from a clinical disorder. The definition given by some professionals may imply that all psychopaths are criminals, but in fact, this may not be true. It is a fact, however, that many psychopaths act criminally, and when they do, they typically represent a level of seriousness unparalleled by non-psychopathic perpetrators.

Psychopath expert (Professor Robert Hare)[23] gives a comprehensive list of psychopathic personality traits that outline the major features of this disordered personality.

  • Glib and superficial charm
  • Callousness and lack of empathy
  • Grandiose sense of self worth
  • Parasitic lifestyle (lives off of other people)
  • Need for stimulation, prone to boredom
  • Poor behavioural controls
  • Pathological lying
  • Promiscuous sexual behaviour
  • Conning and manipulativeness
  • Early behaviour problems (temper tantrums and disobedience)
  • Lack of remorse or guilt
  • Failure to accept personal responsibility
  • Shallow affect (no deep feelings about anything or anyone)
  • Revocation of conditional release (put back in jail after failing at reform)
  • Lack of realistic, long-term goals
  • Many short-term marriages
  • Impulsivity
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Irresponsibility
  • Criminal versatility (good at a lot of different crimes)

This list is now the standard in assessing offenders in court cases, prisons, and forensic hospitals. Some of the behaviours appear more extreme than others, for this reason it is important that even the vilest of those traits be investigated.

“They’re often full of themselves and see other people as inferior and easy prey. They’ll lie, cheat, and manipulate to get whatever it is they want… with a coldness of heart. Psychopaths don’t feel remorseful or guilty for any of their transgressions and can sometimes be so cold that they are extremely ruthless, possessing no empathy for the suffering of others. (Cash, A, 2013)[24]. They need relationships, but see people as obstacles to overcome and be eliminated.   If not, they see people in terms of how they can be used.  A psychopath can have high verbal intelligence, but they typically lack “emotional intelligence,

What job is the Psychopath most and least likely to do?


In order to come to a conclusion as to “why” there is more tendencies for a CEO to be a psychopath than a case assistant we need to closely look at the careers.

Firstly you have all of the careers on the left, these are go “get’em” careers, power, control etc whereas the careers on the right are “love’em” careers, there is a certain amount of care for the people they work with/for, they are required to have empathy whereas a CEO or Lawyer needs to be able to make decisions which can impact others and also cause damage, emotionally or financially.

Women who kill

What makes a woman kill?. There are few female serial killers, in the past there have been many women who kill, In Ireland in the past 10 years there have been such female Killers such as the ”Scissor Sisters”, Charlotte and Linda Mulhall, “lying eyes” Sharon Collins and the “Black Widow”, Catherine Nevin and Catherine O’Connor.  These are just some of the high profile cases and there have been many others who have been convicted and jailed for killing.

Common reasons why women kill

  • Self defence
  • Acting out or defying an image
  • Addiction
  • Following a role model
  • Keeping someone’s attention or affection
  • Obsession
  • Greed

It is believed that women do not as a general rule, kill, they are “virtuous” and “pure”, nurturers and protectors of the family.  Women kill for more or less for the same reasons men kill, specifically due to greed, jealousy, self-defence, revenge, psychopathy and also self-defence.  The most common form of weapon is Poison, but Sharon Collins hired a hit man, the consensus is that women who hire hit men kill because of greed.  The most common reasons are greed and self-defence.

Women who kill will be dealt with in more detail in week three.

What is Psychosis?

The term (psychosis) is used to describe conditions which affect the mind, where thoughts and emotions become somewhat impaired and where contact with reality is lost.

When someone becomes ‘ill’ in this way it is called a ‘psychotic episode’

It is most likely to occur in young people.  It can happen to almost anyone (approx3 in every 100 young people) and it can be treated.  Most sufferers recover completely within 6 months.

Individuals exhibiting psychotic symptoms are as follows:

1) The person who feels that the Government is following him, these are called paranoid delusions.

2) A person who believes that certain people in their neighbourhood is out to get them,

3) A person who hears voices, and these voices tell them to harm themselves or someone else,

4) A scruffy homeless person wearing several layers of clothes when it is warm and they appear confused and lashes out at random passer-by,

5) The person who has a vacant state and if asked a question may respond with a brief, empty response repetitively.

It is imperative that the terms “psychopath” and Psychotic” are not mixed up or intertwined.  A person with psychosis is someone who suffers from delusions and hallucinations with no awareness of his or her “break” with reality.  A psychotic person is not, by definition, a danger to himself or society.

A person labelled as a psychopath lacks empathy or concern for other people, yet can often seem charming and highly intelligent. They are distrustful and cold-hearted when it comes to the welfare of others. These people lie, murder, steal and worse. These are the serial killers you see on the news. Very smart and in touch with reality, a psychopath has no moral convictions and finds a thrill in committing violent crimes, usually serial murders.[26](Yourself Series, 2012).

The Role of the Criminal Psychologist

Crime analysis

Crime analysis or sometimes called as intelligence analysis is a field of work which draws upon criminal psychological methods. [27] (Bull, R, Bibly, C Cooke, C, 2011)

One of the most common roles of crime analysts is that of the case linkage. This process involves the linkage of crimes based on the similarities in the behaviours of the offender as reported by the victim or as inferred from the crime scene. [28] (Thelote, 2012).

Analysing an attack on a young female walking home alone after a late night party, the young woman is raped and assaulted.  A criminal Psychologist could use the facts of the case, firstly that she was raped, secondly that she was walking alone, third that she was at a party, they could use the language and conversation used to check and establish if a similar crime has been reported or any arrests made or convictions secured in the past.  The checks will establish if the same Modus Operand or (MO) was used, if the signatures are the same.  Should similarities be unearthed and the MO and Signature are similar then this information can be used by the Gardai to investigate the potential that the same person has committed both of these crimes. This can help to eliminate unnecessary wasted investigation hours.

Interviewing, detecting deception and eyewitness research

A criminal Psychologist is often requested to sit in on interviews with witnesses and suspects to give a reliable deduction on the reliability of evidence gathered in interviews, the criminal psychologist expert opinion will help to ensure accurate and crucial information.

Interview with witnesses are somewhat precarious, as witness testimony is said to be unreliable[29]. Loftus, E. F. (1980).  Using a Criminal Psychologist can also bolster the reputation of any confession obtained as the psychologist in unbiased and impartial in obtaining the confession, it is clear that those carrying out the interviews need to receive training in how to conduct the interviews appropriately. Psychologists have been instrumental in developing guidance and advice on how best to interview witness suspects.[30](Bull, R, Bibly, C Cooke, C, 2011)

The Gardai can also use psychologists expert opinion when researching the best interview techniques to use when interviewing some offenders, this expert opinion can then be to conduct the interview and therefore obtain the best and most accurate statement s for the offenders.

Expert witness

Criminal Psychologists can be used by the Courts in cases which involve complex terminology which is not possessed by the layperson sitting on the jury.  In these circumstances it is normal for the court to call an expert witness who, by definition, is qualified in the area in question.  Under these circumstances expert witnesses are permitted to provide their opinion (rather than the facts) on the issue being discussed. [31]. (Bull, R, Bibly, C Cooke, C, 2011)

Either the Defence of the Prosecution can call an expert witness, i.e. the court in a child protection case may call the expert witness of a child psychologist in order to obtain the relevant expert information.  The expert witness provides an unbiased and professional opinion in the case in hand.  It has been argued that the lay person is not able to comprehend what a criminal psychologist is presenting and therefore this could prejudice the actions of the jury, but this has not been proven.

In the past a criminal psychologist expert opinion was only admissible in cases where the competence or fitness for trial was in question, but modern criminal psychologists can be called to give testimony regarding interviews.

“Criminal Psychologist refers to any psychologist, experimental or clinical, who specializes in producing or communicating psychological research or assessment information intended for application to legal issues” [32](Grisso, T, 1987)

Criminal psychology must not be confused with criminal psychiatry.

Psychiatry uses treatments and therapy to treat the mental illness and approaches from a medical stance whereas criminal psychologists study human behaviour why they do what they do, this behaviour can also include mental illness but the Criminal Psychologist is not trained to treat mental illness but establish firm basis for the application of the legal issues pertaining to the condition of the offender.

The Research of Criminal Behaviours

The scientific method used in psychological research.

A method of obtaining information about the natural world based on making falsifiable predictions (hypotheses), testing them through solid proven research, and developing peer-reviewed theories that best explain the known data.  The scientific method is a method of gaining understanding of a scientific research topic by observing a spectacle, formulating hypotheses, further observing and investigating, and refining and re-testing hypotheses.[33]

For a researcher to develop they have to produce either a supported or rejected explanation of a phenomenon.

The scientific method is a Specific model of research that is used in the field of psychological investigation.  In using the scientific method there are four main goals:

1) Figuring out what a person wants to research,

2) Collecting and analysing the appropriate data,

3) Drawing relevant conclusions of the data, and

4)communicating the relevant findings to the pool of psychological knowledge.[34](PSM)

Researchers use the scientific method to prove or disprove a hypothesis set forth.  A hypothesis is a prediction about the association between two particular topics of research.

Many types of study exist within the scientific method – experimentations, descriptive studies, case studies, surveys, and non-descriptive studies.

These experiments are done by using by using an explained topic, then the researcher manipulates definite variables and processes their effect on other variables in a controlled surroundings. Descriptive studies define the nature of the relationship between the controlled variables, without looking at cause or effect. A case study covers one precise example in which something rare has occurred. This is often done in risky or unusual cases, usually with a single subject. Surveys are used with large groups of people who answer specific questions about precise information. Non-descriptive studies use correlational approaches to predict the relationship between two (or more) intended variables.

Critical evaluation is a key factor of the scientific method in psychology.  The lack of critical evaluation means logical conclusions cannot be drawn. Critical evaluations can be thought of as an equation: Argument = Reason + Conclusion.  In other words, a logical argument needs a specific reason and a valid conclusion in order to be considered scientific.

Several types of reasoning exist. Simple reasoning involves one reason which supports one conclusion. Side by side reasoning involves two independent reasons which can support one conclusion, independent of one another. Joint reasoning involves two reasons from which only one conclusion can be drawn.[35](PSM)

Critical evaluation helps the researcher analyse and evaluate various situations.  It helps a psychology learner explain various principles and it allows them to alter, contest or reorganise their thinking about formerly held concepts. Critical evaluations aids to recognise prejudices (as well as eradicate or diminish them), and it helps people to see and change any bias they may have about a specific theory.

Psychology aims to study subjective untested ideas, such as emotions. Because of this, critical evaluation and the use of the scientific method is particularly significant in psychology because it helps to minimise bigotry, bias, and other perceptive errors that often come with the investigation of such subjective perceptions.

Ethical considerations of psychological research

Over the years, psychological researchers performed an array of disputed experiments in the name of science. In today’s modern society, researchers must abide by basic ethical rules when considering undertaking research. Most important, they must consider whether they may inflict harm whether mental or physical on their subject of research.

What are Ethics?

Ethics are a series of rules and regulations, often set out in a code or as a series of principles that govern business relationships between the researcher and the subject.


Researchers are required to get consent from the subject they wish to research, this consent must be informed (the subject must completely understand the research being undertaken) and the participation in the research must be voluntary.

If there is any risks of harm the researchers must inform the subject of this before the research begins.   If the subject wished to retract from the research the researchers must not put the subject under pressure to stay.

There is a very specific type of research called deceptive research, this is when the subject are not told of the full scope of the research, the purpose of deceptive research is when the researchers believe that should the subject know the full facts they will behave in an unnatural manner.  Deception will only be allowed if; the research could not go ahead with the subjects knowing the truth; the research is invaluable; and the subject are informed as soon as practicable and the results of same.

Designing a Class Study

There are multiple definitions and understandings of the case study. According to it is a “systematic inquiry into an event or a set of related events which aims to describe and explain the phenomenon of interest”. [36](Bromley. 1990).  They are designed to ask the questions “how” and “why” of an event, procedure or phenomena.

A case study is an inquiry into an event by either an individual or an organization. It is produced through systematic research, analysis and reporting. Case studies cite professional or scientific sources and they are often used in developing new procedures in marketing, medicine and technology.[37]

Firstly, a case study needs an objects question, a question with a relatively easy case study in today’s society will revolve around technology, specifically social media.  A phenomenon which can be quantified in a class situation or homework is “Facebook”.  Therefore, the subject and question is; what is the average age of the people who log in to Facebook from 6-8pm from Monday to Friday and also Friday to Sunday 12-9pm.

Secondly, the case study will need data collection, for this study the following will be used;

  • Internet research

Research questions should be used such as, defines, explain, compare, what, how many etc.

Thirdly, the data gathered will need to be triangulated, (verified with at least three different sources)

Fourthly, collect the data and analyse the data gathered, narrate it into an essay type paper, i.e. an introduction, a body and conclusion. With this case study it will be quite short but yet it is imperative to sure all steps are taken to have the study as authentic as possible,

This is the end of Chapter one, Chapter two will deal with some of the most notorious serial killers in recent history.

[1] Bartol, A. M., & Bartol, C. R. (1999). History of forensic psychology. In Handbook of forensic psychology 2nd ed. (pp. 452-470). New York: John Wiley and Sons.

[2] IBID

[3] PSY 101 – FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY: Origin and History of Forensic Psychology – http://www.zeepedia.com/read.php?forensic_psychology_origin_and_history_of_forensic_psychology_introduction_to_psychology&b=91&c=45

[4] The History of Forensic Psychology – December 8, 2013 [ONLINE]http://www.behaviourchangeandtechnology.org/history-forensic-psychology/ last accessed September 31th 2013

[5] Dye Sarah. 2012; [ONLINE]http://forensicpsych.umwblogs.org/psychology-and-law/influential-people/; last accessed 21 August 2013

[6] Buckhout, R., & Regan, S. (1988). Explorations in research on the other-race effect in

Face recognition. In M. M. Gruneberg, P. Morris, & R. N. Sykes (Eds.), Practical

Aspects of memory: Current research and issues: Volume 1. Memory in everyday life

(p. 40-46). New York: Wiley.

[7] Kline. K 2008. Psychology & the Legal System

[8] The History of Forensic Psychology – December 8, 2013 [ONLINE]http://www.behaviourchangeandtechnology.org/history-forensic-psychology/ last accessed September 31th 2013

[9] Dye. Sarah (2012) [ONLINE]http://forensicpsych.umwblogs.org/psychology-and-law/influential-people/

[10] (Howitt, 2009)

[11] Sunil R Yadav (2011)

[12] Sunil R Yadav (2011)

[13] O’Mahony, P (1993) Crime and punishment in Ireland. Dublin

[14] O’Mahony, P(1997) Mountjoy prisoners: A sociological and criminological profile. Stationery Office , Dublin.

[15] O’Mahony, P(1997) Mountjoy prisoners: A sociological and criminological profile. Stationery Office , Dublin.

[16] Ibid

[17] O’ Mahony, M. (1997), Mountjoy Prisoners: A Sociological and Criminological Profile. Government Publications.

[18] O’ Mahony, M. (1997), Mountjoy Prisoners: A Sociological and Criminological Profile. Government Publications.

[19] Ibid

[20] Ibid

[21] O’ Mahony, P. (1997), Mountjoy Prisoners: A Sociological and Criminological Profile. Government Publications.

[22] Cash, A. 2002 – Psychology For Dummies – Wiley Publishing – Indianapolis

[23] Hare, R. D. (2003). “The Psychopathy Checklist – Revised, 2nd Edition. Toronto: Multi-Health Systems.

[24] Cash, Adam, 2013; Psychology for dummies 2nd Edition, Wiley Publishing, Indianapolis,

[25] Barker, E. 2012. [ONLINE] http://www.bakadesuyo.com/2012/11/professions-most-fewest-psychopaths/. LAST ACCESSED 12 December 2013

[26] 2012; Yourself Series;  http://yourselfseries.com/teens/topic/mental-disorders/what-is-the-difference-between-a-psychopath-and-a-psychotic/ [ONLINE]l last accessed 21/01/2014

[27] Bull, R, Bibly, C Cooke, C, 2011; Criminal Psychology: A Beginner’s Guide; OneWorld Publications, Oxford.

[28] Bull, R, Bibly, C Cooke, C, 2011; Criminal Psychology: A Beginner’s Guide; OneWorld Publications, Oxford.[CITED IN] http://tholath.wordpress.com/category/psychology-2/%5Blast accessed 22/1/14

[29] Loftus, E. F. (1980). Impact of expert psychological testimony on the unreliability of eyewitness identification. Journal of Applied Psychology, 65(1): 9-15.

[30] Bull, R, Bibly, C Cooke, C, 2011; Criminal Psychology: A Beginner’s Guide; OneWorld Publications, Oxford.

[31] Bull, R, Bibly, C Cooke, C, 2011; Criminal Psychology: A Beginner’s Guide; OneWorld Publications, Oxford.

[32] Grisso, T. (1987). The economic and scientific future of forensic psychological assessment. American. Plenum Press.

[33] Psychology and the Scientific Methods; https://www.boundless.com/psychology/introduction-to-psychology/introduction-to-psychology/psychology-and-the-scientific-method/

[34] PSM. Psychology and the Scientific Methods; https://www.boundless.com/psychology/introduction-to-psychology/introduction-to-psychology/psychology-and-the-scientific-method/

[35] PSM. Psychology and the Scientific Methods; https://www.boundless.com/psychology/introduction-to-psychology/introduction-to-psychology/psychology-and-the-scientific-method/

[36] Bromley, D. B. (1990). Academic contributions to psychological counselling: I. A

Philosophy of science for the study of individual cases. Counselling

Psychology Quarterly, 3(3), 299-307.

[37] Amona LoveFlower, Cheeser, Breathe, carolina, Maluniu, http://www.wikihow.com/Do-a-Case-Study


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