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MYTHS and FACTS about legal psychology

TRUE OR FALSE? Through crime novels, news reports and true crime TV shows, we hear about crimes, police methods, witness testimonies and court decisions. But what does legal psychology tell us about these topics?

In this series, researchers answer common questions on the subject. The researchers explain the psychology of lies, false memories, suspect interrogations, difficulties with making quick decision in police investigations, and how to stop future crimes.

THE RESEARCH GROUP ON LEGAL PSYCHOLOGY at the University of Gothenburg, Criminal, Legal and Investigative Psychology (CLIP), work with generating knowledge that is important for the judiciary and can contribute to improving police investigations, and make sure that interrogations and testimonies have strong evidentiary value.

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You may watch the films below, or on Youtube.

People tend to think that nervousness is a sign of lying, and that they easily can see if someone is lying to them. But is it possible to catch a liar by observing their body language? Sofia Calderon, researcher in psychology, explains what we know about lying and body language.

We like to believe that we remember things the way they happened. But can we always trust our memories? In this video, legal psychology researcher Emelie Ernberg, talks about false memories.

Eye-witnesses are the most common source of evidence in criminal cases. How reliable are eye-witness testimonies? And how should we go about when interviewing witnesses? Erik Mac Giolla, associate professor of psychology, explains what factors that influence eye-witness testimony.

In some situations, the police need to gather information from human sources in order to prevent future crimes before they happen. What are some good strategies the police can use in such situations? David Neequaye, a psychology researcher, explains such tactics and how they work.

Sometimes the innocence of victims is questioned – for instance by revealing previous sexual experiences of a rape victim, or assuming that someone who has been assaulted must have provoked the perpetrator. Why does this happen? Malin Joleby, PhD student in psychology explains the psychological mechanism behind victim blaming.

Repressed memories are a common feature in popular culture, and many believe that it is common for people who have experienced trauma to be unable to recover their memories of the event. But what does research actually show? In this video, legal psychology researcher Emelie Ernberg, talks about memory for traumatic events.

In some criminal cases there is no physical evidence nor any witnesses to the crime. Is it possible to get to the truth by carefully examining what witnesses and plaintiffs are saying? If so, what signs should we look for? Professor Leif Strömwall explains what we know about verbal-content analysis.

We know of many cases in which innocent people have falsely confessed to serious crimes. How does this happen? And how can we prevent it from happening? Associate professor Timothy Luke explains.

When crime investigations go wrong, “tunnel vision” is often to blame. Why do detectives sometimes fixate on a single scenario and become blind to alternative explanations? Professor Karl Ask explains what we can learn from research in legal psychology.

From what age can children give reliable testimony, and what should the police do to help children talk? Mikaela Magnusson, PhD student in forensic psychology, talks about children’s witness abilities and research-based child interviewing techniques.

Page Manager: Sofia Calderon|Last update: 3/20/2020
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