I found this instructive article from the conversationist on the important role forensic psychologists play in eliminating wrongful convictions.
One interesting point was on the notion of memory conformity when witness memory becomes tainted by discussions with other witnesses or becomes familiar with other details of the case. This reminded me of the findings of Solomon Asch and the experiment whereby participants were instructed to find the 'longest' out of three lines. All of the group but one were instructed to be accurate in the first few instances and then go wrong. The actual participant of the study went along with the group and ignored his own sense much of the time.
Conforming in this way could be very dangerous for law and thus forensic psychologists can aid in eliminating this.
Some surprising stats from the article:
"Miscarriages are not as rare as some may think. Using the conservative and internationally accepted estimate that 1% of all criminal convictions are incorrect, there could be up to 330 people wrongfully convicted in Australia each year for serious (district/county or supreme court) offences.
This figure rises to more than 8,500 if all court appearances (including magistrates’ court) are considered."
Okay so the importance of forensic psychology is that it eliminates wrongful convictions by studying the suggestibility of the people and witnesses involved and if these people are believed to be "conforming" with the crowd opinion then they are considered highly suggestible to influence outside the case which would invalidate their opinion and be like thrown out? Do I have that right?
also...do you mean mistrial? what does miscarriages have to do with this?
I am sad that many people are wrongfully convicted. Not okay and scary to know that the real convicts are still out there lurking. Creepy! I am very glad that forensic psychologists do this work. Do they go into the meeting room with jurors also to find out if they are influenced by suggestion? or bias? or anything that would throw off the case and invalidate their opinion?
Thanks for sharing the instructive article Daniel. Indeed, Asch's conformity experiment speaks volumes on how our judgement can become unreliable.