Credibility in the Courtroom

•July 19, 2010 • 1 Comment

Credibility is defined as the quality of being convincing or believable and thus plays a major role in the verdicts of trials. The more credible a defendant is, the more likely the jury is to side in favor of them and, in turn, the less credible the defendant is, the less plausible it is that the jury will support them.

Many factors play into an individual’s labeling as credible or not. As shown in Aronson and Golden’s experiment measuring the influence of various individuals on sixth graders, race and socioeconomic status can heavily impact the individual’s degree of credibility. This is proven by racial statistics in prisons: about 38.5% of inmates in America are African-American and 33% are Hispanic, making a total of 71.5% combined. Juries may not be fully aware of their prejudices because they are so commonplace and deeply rooted in society, but these preconceptions often become evident in the courtroom. As for socioeconomic status, the evidence from Aronson and Golden’s experiment is clear, people are more likely to be influenced by a successful and accomplished individual with a high level occupation than  an individual who does menial work and has received less education. Thus the defendant’s race and socioeconomic status can have detrimental repercussions on the jury’s assumptions about motivation and likelihood of guilt.

The media also takes part in ensuring or crippling a defendant’s credibility. Even if a defendant is proven innocent, it is likely that there will remain a degree of suspicion toward the individual if the media has convinced the masses of their guilt. Prejudices and media do not always impact the outcome of a trial, but it is a definite possibility that they will.



Capital Punishment: YES or No?

•July 16, 2010 • 2 Comments

One of the most prominent pending decisions in the field of law today is that concerning the death penalty. The following article provides a brief history of the controversy surrounding the issue and the opinions of some of the members directly involved. Reading this article will help increase understanding of this issue in order for all you future voters out there to make informed decisions when the time comes, but other information should definitely be considered. It’s a pretty heavy topic, but this is a very interesting issue.


How a False Confession Can Sway a Jury

•July 16, 2010 • 1 Comment

This was from ABC news, and was just too crazy to pass up. It actually mentions findings about witness memory that relates to what happened on the first day of class with the monkey lady. I’ll probably edit this later with what I think is the mechanism behind the studies in this article, but for now, you guys should totally read it.


Decision Making in the Courtroom

•July 16, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Forum: How to Avoid Courtroom Tilt,9171,911497,00.html

This article is from TIME magazine and talks about the best jurors and judges to keep the courtroom fair.  It is pretty interesting so check it out!



•July 14, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Hi, I’m really interested in the criminal psychology aspect of law. I think it is interesting trying to understand how people’s actions come about and how their mindset affected the nature of those actions. I’m hoping to study criminology in the future, and psychology and law are both major aspects of that. -Briana

Gotta Start Somewhere

•July 14, 2010 • 2 Comments

And so Psych Law kicks off its brief and epic life! I wanted to be in this group because I am very interested in the psychology of criminals; since I am a conformist to the rules of our society, I find those who break the law alien in manner and in thought. I do want to be a criminal attorney, a prosecutor specifically, and to understand a criminal’s mind, regardless of their crime’s severity, is a worthy and helpful pursuit to such a career. But on a broader scale, those with mental illness must be treated fairly by the law, and by having a greater understanding of the workings of the mind, I will be better prepared to keep to that principle.

Done monologuing,


My Reasons for Law

•July 14, 2010 • 2 Comments

As of now I am aiming to get a law to degree so I can become a prosecution lawyer. I love reading books about court trials, debating, and coming up with arguments. All of these interests made law a pretty easy choice for me. Psychology, in my opinion, is a very important tool to have in the court room, because it is essential to be able to learn how a person thinks and why they committed a crime. -Katie