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The influence of psychological knowledge on the decision-making process of legal professionals in the criminal justice system

The influence of psychological knowledge on the decision-making processof legal professionals in the criminal justice system

principal investigator
Joanna Kabzińska
Ph.D. / Assistant Professor

lawyer, psychologist, criminologist

Full bio
project value: PLN 303,820
funding source : National Science Center
discipline: law psychology
research center: Institute of Psychology
location: Katowice
duration: 2019201820172016201520202021

Witness testimony is a crucial element of the criminal justice system. However, memory is often false and perception distorted. Yet the testimony based on such imperfect data may change a person’s life forever.

 

RESEARCH PROJECT

The influence of psychological knowledge

on the decision-making process of legal professionals in the criminal justice system

 

Research Unit
UNI SWPS english
Grant Amount
303 820 PLN
Funding Source
NCN logo poziom en2

Duration of Research Project: 2016–2019

 

 

Witness testimony is a crucial element of the criminal justice system. However, memory is often false and perception distorted. Yet the testimony based on such imperfect data may change a person’s life forever. Therefore, it might be beneficial for legal professionals to undergo psychological training, which would help them to assess the reliability of witness testimony. Do lawyers and judges have access to psychological training? Would they be able to apply psychological know-how in criminal proceedings?

Research objectives

The objectives of the research project entitled "The influence of psychological knowledge on the decision-making process of legal professionals in criminal justice system" are as follows: a) conducting an analysis of the criteria of eyewitness testimony credibility used by judges and prosecutors when evaluating this type of evidence; b) conducting an experimental analysis of the influence of selected eyewitness testimony credibility criteria on the decision-making process in legal professionals; c) gaining knowledge on what legal professionals in criminal justice system (judges, prosecutors) know about relevant research findings in the field of eyewitness testimony.

The project's objectives will be accomplished through multiple research methods. The analysis of criminal cases and in-depth interviews with judges and prosecutors will allow the examination of the criteria of credibility utilised by the legal professionals when evaluating eyewitness testimony evidence. An experiment will allow an analysis of the influence that selected credibility criteria have on the decision-making process in legal professionals. Finally, structured interviews conducted on a representative group of judges and prosecutors will allow the investigation of legal professionals' knowledge in the field of eyewitness testimony and whether it remains in accordance with most current psychological research.

The discussed research project is of key importance to criminal justice system in Poland and other countries because eyewitnesses and their testimonies remain one of the most important type of evidence in the criminal proceedings due to the fact, that the vast majority of criminal cases depend on eyewitness testimony. The project will examine the psychological knowledge that legal professionals ought to possess to properly realize their tasks and whether they are able to use it in practice. It will also allow the investigation of the influence relevant psycho-legal research has on the criminal justice system in practice. In a long-term perspective the results of the project may serve as an introduction to a discussion about the psychological education of lawyers at each step of their career.

 

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