Psychology Ethics and Law Essay

Total Length: 624 words ( 2 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: 2

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Psychologists’ Roles, the Law, and Juries


The role of the psychologist as a consultant in jury selection is like that of an advisor: the psychologist assesses the pool of jurors, their responses to questions put to them by the defense or prosecution, the demographics, and the demographic that would be most favorable to the defense or the prosecution. The psychologist then gives advice to either side in terms of describing which jurors should be selected and which should be challenged.

Three examples of psychological concepts that are applied to the selection of juries are: (a) self concept, (b) prejudice and discrimination, and (c) attribution theory, which is the idea that a person will attempt to understand another’s actions by attributing feelings or beliefs to that person. A psychologist will make advice based on these concepts: the self concept is the image that the individual projects—the ideas that make up who the person is, was, and will be; the psychologist can determine whether or not the self concept of a potential juror will help or harm the case of the prosecution or the defense. Prejudice and discrimination are qualities that a psychologist will also be able to pick up on, based on demographics such as age, race, ethnicity, socio-economic background, religion and so on. If the demographic does not match what the prosecution or defense is trying to achieve, the psychologist will recommend rejecting the juror to mitigate the risk of unwanted prejudice.
Finally attribution theory posits that an individual will attempt to relate to another by explaining the motivations of a person through the application of beliefs or ideas that the individual thinks would explain behavior. Understanding how different individuals are likely to apply attribution is crucial to determining which jurors would help or harm the prosecution or defense’s case, and so a psychologist will also make recommendations based on the assessment of this theory.


One common ethical obligation or issue facing psychologists in law enforcement is the whether profiling is a professional and ethical approach to law enforcement (Wilson, Lincoln & Kocsis, 1997). In corrections, the issue facing psychologists is whether facilities should be used as a form of punishment for crimes or as an opportunity to rehabilitate individuals. In the courts system, one issue faced by psychologists is whether plea bargaining is helpful or hurtful to clients aims, or whether prosecutors….....

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Grossman, S. P. (2005). An Honest Approach to Plea Bargaining. Am. J. Trial Advoc., 29, 101.

Wilson, P., Lincoln, R., & Kocsis, R. (1997). Validity, utility and ethics of profiling for serial violent and sexual offenders. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 4(1), 1-11.

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