Vol. 4, Issue 2, July 2012

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Serial effects of evidence on legal decision-making Serial effects of evidence on legal decision-making

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Raluca Enescu and André Kuhn

pp. 99-118


Abstract: The order in which evidence is presented to a criminal court might influence the verdict. This study investigated the serial position effect in a judicial context. 1831 Swiss criminal judges received a filmed mock trial with a specific order stemming from the combination of 3 witnesses: a forensic expert, an eyewitness and an alibi witness. The evidence order was completely counterbalanced and each witness represented a different type of testimony chosen in accordance with the legal practice. If judges rendered their verdict on the basis of the first witness, a primacy effect would be observed. Conversely, if the last testimony would be preponderant, a recency effect would influence their judgment. Results showed a recency effect based on a defence eyewitness whose placement in the last position provoked significantly less condemnations. Furthermore, the probative value estimated by the judges for each piece of evidence was not associated with its serial impact. Results are discussed in relation to legal decision-making and the identification of a central witness mediating order effects.


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Family and socio-demographic risk factors for psychopathy among prison inmates Family and socio-demographic risk factors for psychopathy among prison inmates

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Date added: 07/01/2012
Date modified: 09/26/2013
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Cirilo H. García; José Moral; Martha Frías; Juan A. Valdivia; and Héctor L. Díaz

pp. 119-134


Abstract: A field study was conducted with prison inmates to explore to what extent family and socio-demographic characteristics represent risk factors for psychopathy and delinquent behavior. A psychopathy scale derived from Hare’s Revised Psychopathy Checklist and an instrument containing questions related to family and socio-demographic characteristics were administered to 178 prison inmates. The psychopathy scale’s reliability (α = .92) and construct validity were established. A confirmatory factor analysis provided support for a model showing a negative association between psychopathy and age at which the person stopped living with his family of origin, age of first incarceration, severity of delinquent acts, length of prison sentence, and length of time spent in prison. (χ2/df = 1.40, FD = 1.34, PNI = 0.38, RMSEA =.04, IFI = .94, CFI = .94 and TLI = .93). Furthermore, the model sustained a positive association of psychopathy with income and frequency of incarceration. Level of education and age were eliminated from the model given that no significant associations were found among these variables and psychopathy. The validation of this model enables to interpret research findings in relation with attachment theory.


 

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In search of a fast screening method for detecting the malingering of cognitive impairment In search of a fast screening method for detecting the malingering of cognitive impairment

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Guadalupe Sánchez; Fernando Jiménez; Amada Ampudia; and Vicente Merino

pp. 135-158


Abstract: Forensic settings demand expedient and conclusive forensic psychological assessment. The aim of this study was to design a simple and fast, but reliable psychometric instrument for detecting the malingering of cognitive impairment. In a quasi-experimental design, 156 individuals were divided into three groups: a normal group with no cognitive impairment; a Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) group; and a group of informed malingerers with no MCI who feigned cognitive impairment. Receiver Operating Curve (ROC) analysis of the Test of Memory Malingering (TOMM), and of several subtests of the Wechsler Memory Scale (WMS-III) revealed that the WMS-III was as reliable and accurate as the TOMM in discriminating malingerers from the honest. The results revealed that the diagnostic accuracy, sensitivity and specificity of the WMS-III Auditory Recognition Delayed of Verbal Paired Associates subtest was similar to the TOMM in discriminating malingering from genuine memory impairment. In conclusion, the WMS-III Recognition of Verbal Paired Associates subtest and the TOMM provide a fast, valid and reliable screening method for detecting Guardar the malingering of cognitive impairment.


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Therapeutic effects of a cognitive-behavioural treatment with juvenile offenders Therapeutic effects of a cognitive-behavioural treatment with juvenile offenders

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Santiago Redondo; Ana Martínez-Catena; and Antonio Andrés-Pueyo

pp. 159-178


Abstract: Several treatment evaluations have highlighted the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioural programmes with both youth and adult offenders. This paper describes the application and assessment of a cognitive-behavioural treatment (adapted to Spanish from Ross and Fabiano’s Reasoning & Rehabilitation Programme) with juvenile offenders serving community orders in an educational measure called in Spanish ‘libertad vigilada’ (similar to parole). The intervention comprised six different therapeutic components: self-control, cognitive restructuring, problem solving, social skills/assertiveness, values/empathy, and relapse prevention. Treatment effectiveness was tested using a quasi-experimental design involving two groups and pre/post evaluation. The results show that the programme was effective (with low to moderate effect sizes) in improving participants’ social skills and self-esteem, as well as in reducing their aggressiveness. However, the intervention had no positive influence on empathy, cognitive distortions or impulsiveness. These results are in line with those of many other correctional studies, in which the treatment applied had a significant but partial effect on participants.


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Is miss sympathy a credible defendant alleging intimate partner violence in a trial for murder? Is miss sympathy a credible defendant alleging intimate partner violence in a trial for murder?

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Antonio Herrera; Inmaculada Valor-Segura; and Francisca Expósito

pp. 179-196


Abstract: Current research has postulated that judicial inferencing and judgement-making are subject to biased appraisals. This study assessed the factors reported in the literature associated to the appraisal of criminality in a mock case of a battered woman standing trial for murdering her husband, and who pleaded legitimate self-defence in response to an instance of intimate partner violence. A nationwide sample of 169 police officers from different cities in Spain freely volunteered to participate in the study. Using a mock trial design, the defendant´s prototypicality (prototypical vs. non-prototypical), and physical attractiveness (attractive vs. unattractive) were manipulated. Participants were required to assess the criminality (credibility, responsibility, and controllability) of a battered woman accused of murdering her husband, and who alleged legitimate self-defence in response to an incident of intimate partner violence. The results showed that a defendant perceived as the prototype of a battered woman was judged as having less or no control of the situation; physical attractiveness increased the perception of the defendant´s responsibility in committing the crime; and an interaction between prototypicality and attractiveness in assigning credibility to the defendant´s testimony. Moreover, hostile sexism mediated the relationship between the defendant´s prototypicality and controllability. The results are discussed in terms of their implications for judicial judgement making in cases of battered women who kill their aggressors.


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