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Psychology and the Law

Psychology and the Law

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Psychology and the Law

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  1. Psychology and the Law Violence and Risk Assessment

  2. Plan for Today • Risk Assessment • Psychopathy • Fundamental Attribution Error • Big Five Trait Theory

  3. Risk Assessment “The process of identifying and studying hazards to reduce the probability of their occurrence.” • How do we define violence? • Physical injury vs. psychological damage • Actual harm vs. intent • Instrumental vs. reactive • Sexual vs. non-sexual

  4. Risk Assessment vs. Dangerousness DangerousnessRisk Assessment case by case empirical data vague specific stable trait changes over time predicts violence prevents violence

  5. Risk Assessment • Identify persons likely to commit violence and develop interventions to reduce risk • Better than chance predictor r = .27 (using multi-method approaches) • Predicting future behavior is extremely difficult (Fundamental Attribution Error)

  6. Risk Markers 1. Gender - 90% of violent crime done by men 2. Age - age is inversely related to risk 3. Previous Antisocial and Criminal Behavior 4. Conditional release, parole and probation violation 5. Delinquency 6. Dysfunctional family environment

  7. Risk Markers 7. Physical and sexual abuse as a child 8. Unemployment 9. Lack of intimate relationships 10. Mental illness – schizophrenia and mania 11. Substance Abuse 12. Sexual deviance 13. Psychopathy

  8. Psychopathy • Continuous variable • Violence of psychopaths is distinguishable • Retribution and revenge violence • High density offenders • Recidivate with highest frequency

  9. Anti-Social Personality Disorder Pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others beginning in childhood and extending to adulthood. (3 or more below) • Non conformity to social norms (arrest) • Deceitfulness, lying, conning • Impulsivity • Aggressiveness and irritability • Reckless disregard for safety of others • Consistent irresponsibility (job, finances) • Lack of remorse

  10. Conduct Disorder • Aggression to people and animals • Destruction of property • Deceitfulness or theft • Serious violations of rules Onset before or after age 10 Mild, moderate or severe

  11. Causes of Psychopathy • Cognitive schemata • Genetic or biological impulsiveness • Lack of emotional restraints • Big Five Trait theories Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Emotional Stability

  12. Trait Approach TRAIT: Consistent patterns of thoughts, feelings, or actions that distinguish people. • ASSUMPTION 1: traits are stable over time • ASSUMPTION 2: traits are stable across situations • people differ on continuous variables or dimensions • traits exist on a continuum • basic differences between people are quantitative • traits are used to understand and predict behaviour • emphasizes measurement of traits through tests

  13. Trait Continuum % of people Low High Average TRAIT

  14. The Big Five • Openness – imaginative, novelty seeking and independent vs. realistic, routine seeking and conforming • Conscientiousness – organized , careful and self-disciplined vs. disorganized, careless and weak willed • Extraversion – sociable, fun-loving and affectionate vs. retiring, sober and reserved • Agreeableness – softhearted, trusting and helpful vs. ruthless suspicious and uncooperative • Neuroticism – worried, insecure and self-pitying vs. calm, secure and self-satisfied