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Forensic Psychology: Would a possible offender lie during an interview? If so, how can we detect deception scientifically ?


Choose between three essay questions.

Select ONE of three questions

Memory- Reliability of an Eyewitness

Communication – Deception – Reliability of Suspect

False Confessions – Influences on the Reliability of a Confessor.

1. Would a possible offender lie during an interview? If so, how can we detect deception scientifically ?

2. Are eyewitness identifications reliable?

3. Would a person confess to a crime they did not commit during an interview? ALL ARE LEGAL QUESTIONS SEEKING VERIFICATION (ie. Reliability)


Assessment overview
The purpose of this essay is

– to allow you to more deeply examine a particular aspect of forensic psychology, (ie. The workings of your brain)

– to gain additional insight into how psychology may be applied to the legal arena. ie. Memory of eyewitnesses / physical and verbal hints at deception.

Specifically this assignment examines the challenges the legal system faces when using evidence from psychological research to effectively to underpin justice processes.

Forensic Psychology – Remember.

Forensic psychology is the interaction of the practice or study of psychology and the Law.

It applies to criminal proceedings.

It focuses on criminal behaviour.

It is the understanding and production of psychological knowledge that is applicable.

• The Mind = What are the issues in your case? ie. Memory reliability ? Communication?

What is Your Main Area of Focus?

Identify the main area of psychological research that relates to the question you have chosen.

This area will be ie. memory for eyewitness testimony,

communication for the deception question,

influences ie. Like confidence or mental health for the false confessions.

Accordingly, use a case study to help communicate your response. ie. A bank robbery, an assault, … look in the newspaper.


Write an essay that uses findings from psychological research to answer this question.

• Legal Questions = Forensics

• Scientific Approach (verify) = Not emotive views or gut feelings

• So look at the research on influencing factors or estimator variables ………

What Factors?

Select 2 Factors influencing reliability of the above.

Use two factors from the area of psychological research that relates to the question you have selected.

For example, you may select estimator factors such as gender, age, distractions, weapons focus, time since event, etc. and how this may impact on memory, and therefore eyewitness testimony.

If you choose the deception question, you may look at factors such as eye contact, paralanguage, body language, personal distance, etc., and how these factors impact on communication and how this may in turn impact on the detection of deception.

For the False Confession question, you might want to take a closer look at the Reid Technique and think about why we use the PEACE Model. What influences? Also Communication – stress, IQ,, interview methods, police approach…

Consider the approaches used by psychologists to identify false confessions and also individual factors that may have contributed to such a confession

Two Factors (ie. Estimator Variables)

Describe the two factors you choose and support your argument with at least one journal article for each factor selected.

Choose one article for each factor (ie. academic journals)

You will need to find one refereed academic journal article that relates to each factor you have chosen and summarize the research findings, then relate these to how they can help us understand the impact of that factor on reliability of eyewitnesses, suspects or confessors.

Minimum 2 academic refereed journal articles + your case (newspaper story)

Grand finale.

ie. What role did psychology play in answering the legal question?

What conclusions do you draw from your examination of these two factors to cohesively argue the role psychology can play in addressing the question?

What do you think of the research outcomes?

Did the research outcomes actually help you answer the legal question in your chosen case?

Given these questions are all legal in nature, ensure you consider associated implications from the position of the forensic psychologist. If they are to assist the court what major issues might they want to clarify to the jury?

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