So What’s a Concerned Psychologist to Do?
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Psychologists studying the psychological issues inherent in police interrogation techniques have much to learn from the road traveled by psychologists who generated and helped integrate into policy the research on eyewitness evidence. As nearly all readers of this volume are likely to know, research on eyewitness evidence began in the mid-1970s and captured the intrigue of many legal research psychologists into the 1980s and 1990s. During this time, psychologists conducted numerous studies about the ability of people to accurately recall and report details about a witnessed event and to identify a witnessed perpetrator from a lineup. This research helped identify factors affecting eyewitness reliability over which the justice system has no control (so-called estimator variables such as length of exposure), as well as factors over which the justice system does have control (e.g., system variables such as lineup procedures) (Wells, 1978). The studies—many relying on sophisticated experimental methods and materials—were able to examine the effect of these factors on the accuracy of eyewitness memory and identification (Cutler & Penrod; Wells et al., 2000). Wells and his colleagues (2000) detailed the journey of psychologists in helping to translate this body of research on eyewitness identification into policy, and it is wisdom from that experience on which much of the current chapter is premised.
KeywordsAmerican Psychological Association General Counsel Expert Testimony Interrogation Technique Mock Juror
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