Forensic Psychology - Ass. Prof. Dr. Mebin Wilson Thomas

Lee Justin Rondina

Throughout the years, the concepts of psychology is being continuously adapted to the fields of policy and crime, thus having the forensic psychology. Forensic psychology is the integration and application of psychological theories and practices to the crime, the criminal, the court, and the correction systems. With such definition, it is usually confused with its related terms such as criminology, criminal psychology, investigative psychology, etc. However, it is important for one to be able to differentiate and distinguish each other.

Criminology studies, explains, and addresses not the psychological concepts, but the sociological aspects and issues of the different types of crimes and criminals, its theories, and how the society reacts to such crimes. Criminal psychology deals with all the variety of factors, biological, psychological, and sociological reasons behind any crime, criminal, and the criminal behavior. However, it should be emphasized that criminal psychology is a research field whereas forensic psychology is more of an applied field. Additionally, the fundamentals and concepts of criminal and forensic psychology are based under both clinical psychology and neuropsychology.

Applications of forensic psychology are countless, such as deception analysis and techniques, suspect detection analaysis, and many others. It is a multi-disciplined area with five subspecializations. Three of which are applied fields are police psychology, legal psychology, and rational psychology. The other two, psychology of crime and delinquency, and victimology and victim assistance, are under research fields. This article shall focus only on the applications of the first three aforementioned subspecializations.

Police psychologists device the psychological tests and examinations when recruiting police and military officers and personnel. They are also responsible for the development of the different interrogation models and methods. Current interrogation techniques include the infamous Reid method, PEACE (Preparation and Planning, Engage and Explain, Account, Closure, and Evaluate), FAINT (Forensic Assesment Interview), SCAN (Scientific Content Analysis), and the incorporation of microexpressions developed by American psychologist Paul Ekman. Police psychology is also responsible of addressing situations when officers encounter psychology issues and traumas.

Legal psychologists are the ones who examine and validate eyewitness accounts and testimonies. They are also responsible of addressing crimes committed by persons under insanity. In some countries, they apply the McNaughton rule where the accused may be adjudged “not guilty by reason of insanity” or “guilty but insane”.

Lastly, rational pyschologists are responsible for helping officers or citizens with any potential psychological impacts because of prolonged exposure to offenders or criminals especially in jails and prisons. They also deal with the prisonization and rehabilitation of the offenders. Three important aspects of prisonization are considered here: reformation, rehabilitation, and the reintegration of the offenders back to society.