Psychology and Law: An Empirical Perspective

By Neil Brewer; Kipling D. Williams | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE
Psychology and Law Research
An Overview

NEIL BREWER

KIPLING D. WILLIAMS

CAROLYN SEMMLER

This volume explores the contributions of psychological theory and empirical research to advancing our understanding of a diverse array of practices and processes within the criminal justice system. Underpinning this exploration is the basic premise that such understanding is crucial for the development of effective practices within the legal system. Much of the research described is firmly based in the traditions of experimental psychology. This approach reflects the view that carefully controlled experimental work is crucial for the advancement of psychological knowledge and understanding—and, in turn, for meaningful practical progress.

Our hope is that this book will serve a number of purposes for the reader. At a general level, it is intended to (1) illustrate how theoretical advances in the broad fields of experimental psychology can provide valuable directions for applied research, (2) highlight many of the methodological difficulties with which applied researchers are confronted, and (3) show how carefully controlled experimental research can be used to make meaningful contributions to the solution of everyday or real-world problems. At a more specific level, this volume is designed to provide readers with an up-to-date knowledge base on developments in diverse areas of experimental psychology (e.g., cognitive, developmental, and social psychology) that is relevant to practices within the various sectors of the criminal justice system. Furthermore, some of the major contemporary research developments in psychology and law are highlighted, and readers are acquainted with the specific practical possibilities that are sug-

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