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The Relationship Between Psychology and the Law

Info: 1247 words (5 pages) Law Essay
Published: 4th Dec 2020

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Law and psychology are two separate disciplines, but they have much in common. While the goal of psychology is to understand the behavior and the purpose of the law to control it, both fields establish norms about people's causes. This means that those interested in the study of human behavior should not limit themselves to considering careers that, at first glance, do not seem to be relevant to psychology. The field of psychology and law uses resources and research methods and findings of social psychology and cognitive psychology, developmental psychology and clinical psychology to examine legal assumptions to evaluate whether they truly work or not and think in ways to expand them. (Sales & Krauss, 2015).

Legal psychology involves the practical and psychological investigation of the law, legal institutions and people who come into contact with the law. Legal psychologists usually take basic social and cognitive principles and apply them to problems in the legal system, such as eyewitness memory, jury decision making, investigations and interviews. The term legal psychology is used lately, mainly as a way to differentiate the experimental approach of legal psychology from clinically focused on forensic psychology. Together, legal psychology and forensic field psychology are more generally known as "psychology and law." After the previous efforts of psychologists to report legal issues, psychology and law became a field of study in the 1960s as part of an effort to improve justice, though that original apprehension has diminished over time. (Sales & Krauss, 2015).

The American Society of Psychology and Law states that "The field of psychology and law suggests the application of scientific and professional aspects of psychology to questions and issues related to law and the legal system" and that the "field covers contributions conducted in a number of different areas (research, clinical practice, public policies and teaching / training among them) of a variety of orientations within the field of psychology, such as development, social, cognitive and clinical "(APA, 2019).

Obviously there is an connection among psychology and law and the study and practice of forensic psychology, whereas forensic psychology is related to the application of clinical specialties to legal institutions and people who come into contact with the law. Legal psychology is mainly related to experimental or research-oriented areas of psychology applied to legal issues. In fact, educational programs are beginning to recognize the important overlap between psychology and law, and this is understood in schools that offer a combined degree in law and psychology in the way they do. Psychologists look to examine how to improve the legal system (APA, 2019).

Various perspectives are encompassed within psychology and law, including most of the main subdivisions in psychology (for example, cognitive, developmental, industrial / organizational and clinical). Then, another illustration, cognitive psychologists can examine the consistency of the eyewitness memory; developmental psychologists can measure the impact of abuse and abuse on social and cognitive development; Industrial / organizational psychologists can investigate how workplace conditions contribute to the incidence of sexual harassment; and clinical forensic psychologists can offer assessment and treatment services to courts and lawyers, law enforcement agencies or criminals in correctional situations or under judicial supervision. In one of these cases, psychologists use research and / or treatment protocols related to their specialization to address specific questions that arise in the law. The field of psychology and law values ​​the contributions of professionals in a variety of different settings, including universities and research organizations, clinical practice, law enforcement agencies, correctional institutions, and other government and non-profit agencies. The American Board of Forensic Psychology and similar organizations in psychologists with credentials from other countries that specialize in clinical forensic issues, and an updated set of ethical guidelines have been established specifically for use. Psychologists have contributed in the decisions of the courts of appeal by appearing at hearings and making available to the judges the outcomes of their investigations and policy analysis over amicus reports acquiesced to the US Supreme Court, and to the lower courts (Heilbrun & Greene, 2013).

There is a wide-ranging role for psychologists in the legal system, and many explicit careers in psychology in law. Psychological researchers can affect the law in several ways. Basic researchers, scientists looking for general or basic information for their own sake, and applied researchers, scientists learning practical problems, can suggestively impact the legal system. Even though these basic and applied methods seem to be different, they be as two excesses of the same continuum. Basic researchers notify the legal system by increasing available data on topics such as memory, human cognition and social influence. Psychologists also estimate the success of various involvements or legal improvements (Finkelman, 1999).

Psychologists purpose in the courts system much the same as in the other two areas, with many diverse job roles. One of the many areas they are involved in is an advisory or consultant capacity as an expert witness, which can be for either the defense or prosecution.  In an advisory role, the psychologist would counsel a legal client and attorney of the vision that psychology could contribute to the case.  In the role of consultant, they might counsel the court on the specifics of psychological research, conclusions of examinations, or even the opinions of other psychological experts (Weiner, Schinka, & Velicer, 2003). 

In conclusion, forensic psychologists have many performances in the criminal justice system, which focus on three areas, law enforcement, corrections and courts. Three examples, one for each part, are police psychologists who work in police agencies, prison psychologists who work in correctional institutions in our country and expert witnesses who provide information to the courts. The relationship between the use of psychology and the law are getting closer every day, this opens the possibility to new careers and areas in which it must be perfected. Going for the future every day in my view is not going to be an option but rather a part of the justice system. Following the standards and the improvement of the system will go to the result of a fair justice for all. 


  • APA. (2019). Law & Psychology. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/topics/law/
  • Finkelman. (1999). History of Interactions between Psychology and the Law. Retrieved from http://criminal-justice.iresearchnet.com/forensic-psychology/psychology-and-law/history-of-interactions/
  • Heilbrun, K., & Greene, E. (2013). Psychology and Law. Psychology. doi:10.1093/obo/9780199828340-0100
  • Sales, B. D., & Krauss, D. A. (2015). The psychology of law: Human behavior, legal institutions, and law. doi:10.1037/14593-000
  • Weiner, I. B., Schinka, J. A., & Velicer, W. F. (2003). Handbook of Psychology, Research Methods in Psychology. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

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