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What Is The Psychological Approach To The Study Of Law

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Behaviourism And The Question Of Free Will

Introduction to the Field of Psychology and Law

The most famous behaviourist was Burrhus Frederick Skinner , who expanded the principles of behaviourism and also brought them to the attention of the public at large. Skinner used the ideas of stimulus and response, along with the application of rewards or reinforcements, to train pigeons and other animals. And he used the general principles of behaviourism to develop theories about how best to teach children and how to create societies that were peaceful and productive. Skinner even developed a method for studying thoughts and feelings using the behaviourist approach .

Exercises And Critical Thinking

  • What type of questions can psychologists answer that philosophers might not be able to answer as completely or as accurately? Explain why you think psychologists can answer these questions better than philosophers can.
  • Choose one of the major questions of psychology and provide some evidence from your own experience that supports one side or the other.
  • Choose two of the fields of psychology discussed in this section and explain how they differ in their approaches to understanding behaviour and the level of explanation at which they are focused.
  • Functionalism And Evolutionary Psychology

    In contrast to Wundt, who attempted to understand the nature of consciousness, William James and the other members of the school of functionalism aimed to understand why animals and humans have developed the particular psychological aspects that they currently possess . For James, ones thinking was relevant only to ones behaviour. As he put it in his psychology textbook, My thinking is first and last and always for the sake of my doing . James and the other members of the functionalist school were influenced by Charles Darwins theory of natural selection, which proposed that the physical characteristics of animals and humans evolved because they were useful, or functional. The functionalists believed that Darwins theory applied to psychological characteristics too. Just as some animals have developed strong muscles to allow them to run fast, the human brain, so functionalists thought, must have adapted to serve a particular function in human experience.

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    Research Focus: Do We Have Free Will

    The behaviourist research program had important implications for the fundamental questions about nature and nurture and about free will. In terms of the nature-nurture debate, the behaviourists agreed with the nurture approach, believing that we are shaped exclusively by our environments. They also argued that there is no free will, but rather that our behaviours are determined by the events that we have experienced in our past. In short, this approach argues that organisms, including humans, are a lot like puppets in a show who dont realize that other people are controlling them. Furthermore, although we do not cause our own actions, we nevertheless believe that we do because we dont realize all the influences acting on our behaviour.

    The behaviourists made substantial contributions to psychology by identifying the principles of learning. Although the behaviourists were incorrect in their beliefs that it was not possible to measure thoughts and feelings, their ideas provided new ideas that helped further our understanding regarding the nature-nurture debate and the question of free will. The ideas of behaviourism are fundamental to psychology and have been developed to help us better understand the role of prior experiences in a variety of areas of psychology.

    Relevance Of Psychology In Law

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    A legal system is necessary for the proper functioning of a society since it tries to solve numerous problems existing in the society in todays times. Though some legal authorities do not consider psychology as a discipline relevant to law, it is relevant as law embodies the theories of behaviour. The legal rules, procedures and doctrines reflect the basic assumptions of human nature.

    • Psychology can help the present decision makers in making decisions by providing more accurate images and pictures of human perceptions and preferences.
    • It helps to check the veracity of witnesses, as eyewitnesses are often known to be influenced by or afraid of the accused.
    • It can also help in reducing false confessions by adopting peace models such as those that are highly used by the U.K. police.
    • Psychological studies include the examination of different areas which have legal and social significance.
    • It is based on the empirical and psychological research of legal institutions as well as law and focuses on legal psychology rather than clinically oriented forensic psychology.
    • Pronouncing judgements considering the psychological aspects of the accuseds mind ensures justice in its real meaning.

    There are two units of psychology which influence law and justice: legal psychology and forensic psychology, which together form psychology and law.

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    The Many Disciplines Of Psychology

    Psychology is not one discipline but rather a collection of many subdisciplines that all share at least some common approaches and that work together and exchange knowledge to form a coherent discipline . Because the field of psychology is so broad, students may wonder which areas are most suitable for their interests and which types of careers might be available to them. Table 1.5, Some Career Paths in Psychology, will help you consider the answers to these questions. You can learn more about these different fields of psychology and the careers associated with them at

    The Political Psychology Of Groups

    Group behavior is key in the structure, stability, popularity and ability to make successful decisions of political parties. Individual behavior deviates substantially in a group setting therefore it is difficult to determine group behavior by looking solely at the individuals that comprise the group. Group form and stability is based upon several variables size, structure, the purpose that the group serves, group development and influences upon a group.

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    Prominent Research Areas In Psychology And The Law

    Practical problems drive many research areas in psychology and the law. Because legal investigators have used both simultaneous and sequential lineups when asking witnesses to identify suspects, researchers have evaluated the effectiveness and the inherent risks in each approach . Despite this consistent practical emphasis, researchers in psychology and the law also engage in theory testing. For example, Pennington and Hastie hypothesized that jurors prefer accounts of the events in question in a trial to fit a coherent story, and they tested jurors responses to trial materials that followed the chronological order of the crime and trial materials organized in the order of the witnesses called. Jurors were more likely to decide verdicts in favor of the side that presented materials in chronological order . Researchers may also utilize theory from other areas of psychology. For example, eyewitness researchers borrow from general memory research to explain the ways that viewing books of mug shots can retroactively interfere with the original memory of the face of a perpetrator .

    History Of Interactions Between Psychology And The Law

    Psychology & Law: Using Psychological Science to Reduce Mistaken Identifications in Criminal Cases

    Questions of potential interactions between psychology and the law existed long before the founding of the United States or the establishment of a separate United State legal system. For example, Francis Bacon expressed concerns that inappropriate psychological motives held by some actors in the legal system could compromise the system. He suggested that the law should consider natural human tendencies when he said revenge is a kind of wild justice, which the more Mans nature runs to, the more ought the law to weed it out . Centuries passed between Bacons statement and the formal involvement of psychologists in the law. Read more about History of Interactions between Psychology and the Law.

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    The Influence Of Power In Groups

    Power is another influential factor within a group or between separate groups. The “critical bases of power” developed by French and Raven allocates the following types of power as the most successful reward power, coercive power, legitimate power, referent power and expert power.The way in which power is exerted upon a group can have repercussive outcomes for popularity. Referent power results in greater popularity of a political group or leader than coercive power . This has implications for leaders to manipulate others to identify with them, rather than to enforce consequential punishment. However, if coercive power is enforced, success and a trusted leader are necessary in order for group conflict not to escalate. Extrinsic punishment and reward are also suggested to detract from intrinsic motivation. A sense of freedom must be advocated to the group.

    Roles Of Psychologists In The Legal System

    There are several general roles for psychologists in the legal system, and many specific careers exist in psychology in the law . More generally, psychological researchers can impact the law in a variety of ways. Basic researchers, scientists who seek general or basic knowledge for its own sake, and applied researchers, scientists who study practical problems, can significantly influence the legal system. Although these basic and applied approaches appear to be different, they exist as two ends of the same continuum. Basic researchers inform the legal system by increasing the available knowledge on topics such as memory, human cognition, and social influence. Although research on the effects of different retention intervals on the recall of word lists does not appear to address issues in psychology and the law, such research contributes to the general body of knowledge related to memory. Read more about Roles of Psychologists in the Legal System.

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    What Are The Laws Of Behavior

    First Law: All human behavioural traits are heritable. Second Law: The effect of being raised in the same family is smaller than the effect of the genes. Third Law: A substantial portion of the variation in complex human behavioural traits is not accounted for by the effects of genes or families.

    Are there any enforceable rules for being a psychologist?

    Although the Preamble and General Principles are not themselves enforceable rules, they should be considered by psychologists in arriving at an ethical course of action. The Ethical Standards set forth enforceable rules for conduct as psychologists.

    What should you focus on when reading the law?

    When reading, one should focus on the end goal: learning the law in order to apply it correctly in an exam. Shortcuts in reading may be made too: having an idea of a cases facts and legal principle mean that the case report may be read much more quickly with more focus on the key points.

    What should I have known before becoming a law student?

    Heres what Ive learnt A s a sixth form student choosing to do a law degree, I wish Id have been better informed about what its really like to be a law student. I was young, naive and full of false expectations. I hope that these ten things will be useful to those considering a law degree and that current law students can relate to them. 1.

    Fields Of Legal Psychology


    The fields of legal psychology are much like the fields of general psychology. For instance, cognitive psychologists may do legal research in eyewitness memory, eyewitness memory or perceptual issues involving crime. Social psychologists may study jury decision making, racial discrimination, etc. Psychologists can get involved in both criminal law and civil law research and application.

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    The Influence Of Conformity In Groups

    The application of conformity is key for understanding group influence in political behaviour. Decision making within a group is largely influenced by conformity. It is theorized to occur based on two motives normative social influence and informational social influence . Chance of conformity is influenced by several factors an increase in group size but only to a certain degree at which it plateaus, and degree of unanimity and commitment to the group. Therefore, the degree of popularity of a political group can be influenced by its existing size and the believed unanimity and commitment by the public of the already existing members. The degree by which the group conforms as a whole can also be influenced by the degree of individuation of its members.Also, the conformity within political groups can be related to the term, political coalition. Humans represent groups as if there was a special category of an individual. For example, for cognitive simplicity, ancestral groups anthropomorphize each other because they have similar thoughts, values, and a historical background. Even though the member of a group may have an irrational or wrong argument about a political issue, there is a high possibility for the other members to conform to it because of the mere fact that they are in the same coalition.

    Can You Become A Lawyer After Studying A Psychology Degree

    Yes, you can become a Lawyer after studying for a Psychology degree.

    After completing your major, you will be required to take the Law School Admission Test .

    This exam will be used to determine whether or not you are adequately prepared for law school.

    You will be able to attend law school if you achieve the required score on this test.

    Law school typically lasts three years and includes real-world work experience with a supervisor.

    As a result, it will take you longer to arrive.

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    Bachelor Of Psychological Science Bachelor Of Laws

    2022 course information for Domestic Students
    2022 course information for International Students
    5 years full-time 10 years part-time
    5 years full-time
    Coffs Harbour, Gold Coast, Online
    Start date

    Examining the criminal mind is a fascinating and revealing journey. In this double degree, youll experience the mindsets of criminals, the perspectives of victims and the motivations of people working within the legal process.

    The course will equip you with the skills, knowledge and experience required to embark on a career in law, as well as a strong grounding in psychology and psychological theory, providing insights into the workings of the human mind. Through an optional professional placement you can develop networks and gain vital insight into career possibilities.

    Graduates may choose to pursue a career in one of the many facets of law, from health, social and disability services to youth services, corrective services, the armed services, research agencies and in education or you can pursue postgraduate training for registration as a psychologist.

    This degree fulfils the academic requirements for admission to the legal profession in Australia. Professional admission authorities also require law graduates of all universities to complete practical legal training or similar to be eligible to practise as a lawyer.

    Course links

    Why Is There No One Definition Of Psychology

    The Criminal Mind: The relationships between criminology and psychology – Professor Gwen Adshead

    Firstly, because it evolves continuously. Secondly, because the range of phenomena it studies cannot be captured by any one definition. This is even more true of psychology. Long time back, students like yourself wer e told that the term psychology is derived from two Greek words psychemeaning soul and logos

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    Lawyer Or Psychologist Who Earns More

    Lawyers earn more than Psychologists, with the annual wage for a Lawyer being $126,930 compared to $82,180 for Psychologists.

    According to Labor Bureau of Statistics, the median annual wage for lawyers was $126,930 in May 2020.

    The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less.

    The lowest 10 per cent earned less than $61,490, and the highest 10 per cent earned more than $208,000.

    In May 2020, the median annual wages for lawyers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

    Federal government
    Elementary and secondary schools state, local, and private $77,560

    For Academic Year 202324

    A-levels additional information

    Offers typically exclude General Studies, Art, Art & Design, Dance, Moving Images, Photography, Physical Education, Practical Art, Practical Music, Sharia Law, Sports Studies, Textiles and Travel & Tourism Restricted subjects are Critical Thinking, Community & Culture, Design & Technology, Drama, Divinity, Film Studies, Health & Social Care, Media Studies, Performing Arts, Theatre Studies, and World Development. This means we can only accept these subjects as one of your three total A levels.

    A-levels with Extended Project Qualification

    If you are taking an EPQ in addition to 3 A levels, you will receive the following offer in addition to the standard A level offer: AAB and grade A in the EPQ

    A-levels contextual offer

    We are committed to ensuring that all applicants with the potential to succeed, regardless of their background, are encouraged to apply to study with us. The additional information gained through contextual data allows us to recognise an applicant’s potential to succeed in the context of their background and experience. Applicants who are highlighted in this way will be made an offer which is lower than the typical offer for that programme, as follows: AAB

    Pass, with 36 points overall with 18 points at Higher Level

    International Baccalaureate contextual offer
    International Baccalaureate Career Programme statement


    Additional information

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    The Psychologism Controversy In Early Twentieth

    From the 1880s onwards, a number of German logicians and epistemologists started to attack some of their philosophical colleagues for presenting and endorsing the following kinds of psychologistic arguments:

    Logic studies specific laws of thought. Psychology is the study of all kinds of laws of thought. Therefore, logic is a part of psychology.

    Normative disciplines must be based upon descriptive-explanatory disciplines. Logic is a normative discipline with respect to human thinking. Psychology is the descriptive-explanatory discipline with respect to human thinking. Therefore, logic must be based upon psychology.

    Logic is concerned with judgments, concepts, and inferences. Judgements, concepts, and inferences are human mental entities. Therefore, logic is a theory about human mental entities.

    The touchstone of logical truth is self-evidence. Self-evidence is a human mental experience. Therefore, logic is about a human mental experience .

    We cannot conceive of a radically different logic. The limits of conceivability are our mental limits. Therefore, logic is relative to the human species, and thus a subfield of human psychology.

    F.E. Weinert, in, 2001

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