Almost every year since our academic careers began, each of us has taught a course in either forensic psychology or psychology and law. Over time, we have seen these courses become increasingly popular, not just for psychology majors, but also for students interested in criminal justice, law, sociology, anthropology, and political science. This new, student-friendly textbook was inspired by our combined experiences of teaching psychology and the law to a diverse and changing population of students.
Forensic and Legal Psychology is intended to provide a clear and engaging introduction to a varied and vibrant field. It can be used as a textbook for a broad overview course in psychology and law or for a clinically-based course in forensic psychology. The chapters explore virtually every aspect of the legal system studied by psychologists. In addition to core chapters on topics such as eyewitness identification, jury decision-making, child custody, police interrogations, and the insanity defense, we have also included full chapters on a few topics not well-covered in most textbooks. These chapters include lie detection, the psychology of forensic identification, workplace law, risk assessment, prisons, and the death penalty.
When presenting research findings, we have tried to portray the research process as a kind of detective story—an effort to unravel a mystery through systematic data collection. We have also made extensive use of real legal cases and actual trials to draw students into the material and to illustrate the relevance of research findings. Drawing on research in cognitive, social, clinical, and developmental psychology, Forensic and Legal Psychology attempts to show how psychological science can be used to enhance the gathering of evidence, improve legal decision-making, and promote justice.
We invite you to review our textbook. We believe that Forensic and Legal Psychology will provide your students with a thorough, lively, and accessible introduction to this dynamic field.