What is forensic psychology and what is it for?
Behaviors and motivations that can lead a person to commit a crime may be conditioned by their mental state and in front of it, we must ask ourselves: would it be fair to judge a person who is not in his full mental faculties, just as another?

Moreover, before that we must ask ourselves, are lawyers, judges or prosecutors, among others, trained to determine the mental state of a person?

Given these issues, forensic, legal and criminal psychology is born. If you are interested in knowing forensic psychology and what it is for, keep reading this Transkerja.com article.

What is forensic psychology?


Definition of forensic psychology

Forensic psychology is the branch of legal psychology that aims to apply its knowledge in the face of expert evidence. Against this, the psychology applied to the courts seeks to collaborate in the resolution of judicial processes, from understanding and studying the different psychological factors that may be useful and applicable in the trial, that is, it has the objective of providing data that contribute to solve the different cases.

If you are interested in knowing other areas of psychology, in this article you will find the branches of psychology and their definitions.

Juridical psychology

Legal psychology is a specialty within psychology, which aims to apply psychological techniques and knowledge about the behavior of people in the legal field. Therefore, it establishes a relationship between Law and Psychology. Therefore, it focuses on the study, promotion, explanation, advice and prevention of aspects at the psychological, behavioral and relational level that interfere with the behavior on legal aspects of people. Being the functions that a legal psychologist exerts the following:

  1. Evaluation and diagnosis: this function focuses on establishing an assessment regarding the psychological conditions that may have influenced a behavior.
  2. Advice: the representatives of this specialization should advise the judicial bodies in reference to the issues of their specialty.
  3. Intervention: programs and designs must be carried out in order to establish prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and inclusion or integration of the person. With the aim of discriminating whether its integration in community or in a prison is more appropriate. Here you will find a psychosocial intervention in a prison.
  4. Training and education: another possible application of this specialty is to train in legal techniques applicable to its field to professionals in the legal field, such as judges, police, lawyers,
  5. Campaigns on social prevention against crime and the media.
  6. Research.
  7. Victimology: help improve the circumstances of the victim and their contact with the legal system.
  8. Mediation: establish solutions through negotiations against legal conflicts, with the aim of reducing the emotional, social impact and adding a legal alternative, on which those involved have a leading role.

What is the use of forensic psychology?


What does forensic psychology study?

This field within psychology seeks to indicate the mental state of the person at the specific time of the crime, and not its current functioning. The forensic psychologist works to a certain extent in retrospect and then, has the need to turn to third parties to offer information, collateral, written or verbal communications, possible statements, ... to collect the necessary information to help determine if there were any alteration in the functioning of the person at the time of the crime.

Objectives of forensic psychology

Forensic psychology has the purpose of highlighting the mental state of the person at the time of the crime and the way in which this mental state may have influenced the conduct of the person, to provide relevant information in the judicial process and thus, to give advice to lawyers, judges, prosecutors, ... involved in the trial, in relation to psychological aspects.

What is a forensic psychologist?

A forensic psychologist is a psychology professional with a specialization in forensic psychology (usually, through a master's degree in forensic psychology and professional experience), which is dedicated to judicial processes.

What does a forensic psychologist do?

The role of the forensic psychologist changes according to the type of forensic psychology. We find two different types of forensic psychology: clinical and experimental forensic psychology.

Clinical Forensic Psychology

This type of forensic psychology serves to assess the damage caused to the victims and establish responsibility for the events of the accused, taking into account the assessment of the mental state of the person and, consequently, their imputability. The psychological dimensions that are evaluated in this typology are the area of personality, evaluation and treatment of pathologies. The functions of the forensic psychologist in this field of application can be:
  1. Medical-forensic clinics: the role of the psychologist focuses on collaborating in the evaluation of victims and / or aggressors, such as in cases of sexual abuse, traffic accidents, abuse, mental disorder, bullying, addictions...
  2. Family courts: generally, the psychologist's position is based on informing the judge about family circumstances, usually in divorce proceedings, in order to establish custody of children and in child protection processes.
  3. Juvenile courts: normally, together with the figure of the worker or social educator, it consists in the preparation of reports that contain the evaluation of the aspects of personality and educational, family, relational, of the minor and recommend the most appropriate measures.
  4. Prison surveillance courts: an evaluation of the prisoners is established to assess the exit permits, the possibility of parole, the duration of the sentence, possible risks of escape, and everything is detailed in a report.
  5. Assistance to victims: Together with lawyers, workers, and social educators, the psychologist gives advice to the victims.

Experimental Forensic Psychology

As we have previously indicated, professionals in this field must work in retrospect and, in response to this; they must attend to the evaluation of testimony, statements and identifications. In order to establish the validation of these tests, the processes of attention, perception and memory of the person are taken into account. The functions of the forensic psychologist in this field of application can be:
  • Participation in the different procedures before the declaration is taken, in cases that require special attention.
  • Advice on the possible accuracy of the statements given by the witnesses to the courts.
  • Collaboration in identification wheels.
  • Evaluation of the credibility of the witnesses in the statements.
Given this, two roles of the forensic psychologist in this field of application are envisaged: the first function is established around the testimony and the second, offer advice to the legal body to ensure a correct assessment of the evidence.

Once forensic psychology is understood, we must know another application of legal psychology criminal psychology. It is important to know their applications, to understand their differences and not to confuse them.

In this article, you will find more information about the role of the psychologist in the legal field.

Criminal psychology

Criminal psychology is a discipline of psychology aimed at understanding, studying and explaining what are the motivations and the origin of the illegal conduct, as well as the personality of the person who committed the crime, since it is understood that the criminal act has been committed in a context that must be kept in mind. In addition, it seeks to prevent and control criminal behaviors, as well as increase the rehabilitation and reintegration of the accused person. The areas of application of this discipline can be the following:
  1. Criminal analysis: in this area of application, criminal psychology seeks to observe and study the behavior of the person in different areas of his life.
  2. Police investigation: In this area, the psychologist seeks to establish negotiations with the criminal, in addition to working on psychological content such as evidence or events.
  3. Profiling: the psychologist in this area of intervention tries to place himself in the mind of the criminal. This technique allows recognizing the main characteristics of the offender's personality, through an analysis of his crime, his behavior and / or the scene of the crime committed. For example, it would be studied whether the crime was a premeditated act or consequence of an impulsive act. In this article, you will find more information about the psychological profile of a criminal.
  4. Interviews: Another area of application is to conduct interviews with both victims and criminals, in order to obtain relevant information about the events.
  5. Prevention: this area seeks to understand the biopsychosocial factors that may be related to the appearance of criminal acts, with the aim of reducing crime levels, based on prevention programs.
  6. Acting on the effects and consequences of the victim at the psychological level. In addition to the individual effects on the victim, the effects at the collective level within society are studied.

Criminal and forensic psychology: difference

In summary, criminal psychology seeks to understand the reasons for the behaviors, the origin of these, the personality of the person and their motivations, while forensic psychology exercises on formal aspects, seeking to establish legal conclusions on which implications are found. Psychological.