Chapter 7: Comparative Legal Psychology: Eyewitness Identification
Ruth Horry, Matthew A. Palmer, Neil Brewer and Brian L. Cutler* 1 INTRODUCTION We focus in this chapter on one important area of legal psychology: eyewitness identification. Following a brief overview of the broader field of legal psychology and the history of eyewitness identification research, we outline the major contributions that psychological science has made to our understanding of eyewitness identification, and review the procedures used to collect and interpret identification evidence in the United States and England and Wales. We conclude with some thoughts about how one might improve the treatment of identification evidence in legal settings in the future. 1.1 Overview of Legal Psychology Legal psychology has shaped thinking and practice in many areas of the criminal justice system, with psychologists (including researchers, and clinical and forensic practitioners) and legal professionals (including lawyers, judges and police officers) contributing actively to this field. Rather than attempt a detailed review of legal psychology in this short chapter, we introduce—as a starting point for readers interested in a broader treatment— a few brief examples of research issues that have attracted programmatic attention from researchers. Legal psychology research has had much to say about the interpretation of evidence presented in the courtroom. Numerous studies have examined the way that jurors make decisions, both individually and collectively. For example, research suggests that juroreligible individuals are better able to process and recall relevant information—and, hence, make better judgments—if they receive judicial instructions before, rather than after, hearing complex evidence.1 In addition,...
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