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Importance of Studying Psychology for the Lawyers

By AB Tutorials Team
14 Sep, 2021
Importance of Studying Psychology for the Lawyers
Psychology is defined as a science which studies mental processes, experiences and behavior. In short, it's a study of human mind and behavior. It includes affective, behavioral, as well as cognitive aspects. It covers aspects related to states of consciousness (conscious, preconscious, unconscious) of the mind. Many additions have been made to the ambit of psychology, over time. In the legal realm, psychology is relevant to determine the veracity of witnesses, mindset of a criminal while conducting a crime; and most importantly, what punishment would be considered 'just' or fair, with respect to the criminal psychological state. Psychology has  contributed in the understanding that at times, a 'criminal' might be going through a psychological problem for which (s)he requires medical treatment and is not required to be punished. However, this is one thing on the basis of which people try to fake mental illness to get away from the punishment. Hence a psychologist's  discretion to understand the genuineness of the suffering must be given importance here.

Overall, there are many pros and cons of psychology under the legal studies that's equally praised and criticized. However, psychology has undoubtedly become an essential part of the legal system in the present era.

Relevance of psychology in law

An overall set of laws is vital for the legitimate working of a general public since it attempts to tackle various issues existing in the general public in the present occasions. In spite of the fact that some lawful specialists don't consider psychology as a control applicable to law, it is important as law encapsulates the speculations of conduct. The lawful principles, strategies and conventions mirror the fundamental presumptions of human instinct.
  • Psychology can help the current leaders in settling on choices by giving more exact pictures and pictures of human perceptions and preferences.
  • It assists with checking the veracity of witnesses, as observers are frequently known to be affected by or scared of the blamed.
  • It can likewise help in lessening bogus admissions by embracing harmony models, for example, those that are profoundly utilized by the U.K. police.
  • Mental investigations incorporate the assessment of various regions which have lawful and social importance.
  • It depends on the observational and mental examination of lawful organizations just as law and spotlights on legal psychology as opposed to clinically arranged forensic psychology.
  • Articulating decisions considering the mental parts of the accused's brain guarantees equity in its genuine significance.
There are two branches of psychology which influence law and justice: legal psychology and forensic psychology, which together form psychology and law.

Legal Psychology

Legal psychology deals with cognitive and social principles and their usage in the legal system. It is based on empirical and psychological research of law along with legal institutions. It is different from forensic psychology which is based on the clinical orientation on experimentation. The relevance of legal psychology can be seen in legal proceedings in different manners:
  • Academics and research– Legal psychologists basically conduct empirical research on new legal topics, which are yet to be popularized. They also work as mentors and guide the upcoming legal representatives.
  • Advisory role– Many a time it is seen that legal psychologists plays an advisory role in court systems. They advise the judges and legal decision makers on some psychological issues pertaining to the concerned case.
  • Trial consulting– Sometimes, legal psychologists also work for trial consulting. In some cases, a psychologist who works as an academician is called up as a trial consultant when their expertise is helpful in any particular case. Trial consultants play different roles such as picking up the jurors, performing mock trials, etc.
  • Policy making and legislative guidance– A legal psychologist’s work is based on empirical research and many a time there is a need to establish some policies based on empirical research. Hence, in those times of crises they help the state and national lawmakers.
  • Amicus briefs– Amicus briefs primarily means to provide opinions with a scientific backup and statistics. But the assistance which a legal professional provides in the form of amicus briefs is questionable.
  • Expert witnesses– Legal psychologists are well trained to handle legal issues even though they have no formal training. They are helpful in testifying the witnesses. They also test the memory of eye witnesses whereas the forensic psychologist particularly testifies the competency of the defendant.

Forensic Psychology

Forensic psychology means applying psychology in understanding crimes and other legal concerns. American psychologists have defined forensic psychology as the application of clinical specialties in the legal arena. The ones who are experts in forensic law help with legal proceedings in different manners:
  • Assessment of mental condition Forensic psychology helps in analyzing the mental condition with regards to the insanity plea, which is a tactic adapted by people to avoid death sentence and imprisonment. Hence, forensic psychology helps in determining whether a person is really suffering from any mental disorder or not.
  • Prediction of violence and risk management– Forensic psychology also helps in determining whether a person has violent tendencies or not; this indicates the harm that can be inflicted by such person either upon himself or on others. This method is mainly applied when an accused is imprisoned or is set free.
  • Assessment of Child Custody in Divorce Determining the custody of a child after a divorce is the most crucial question and also a difficult decision to make as the child’s future is at stake. So, the forensic psychologists analyse the couple and after evaluating the situation, they recommend to the judge or jury as to whom the custody of the child should be given.
  • Competency to stand trial– Since the trial process is too long and tiring, it cannot be handled by mentally or physically ill people. Hence, forensic psychology helps in determining who can endure the trial and who should be immediately sent for psychiatric treatment.

Criticism of Psychology

  • The most important and frequent criticism is that psychology is a science and science cannot grant certainty, whereas law requires certainty.
  • It is helpful or covers only a few areas of law, like criminal law, family law, etc.
  • The other criticism is regarding the work of a psychologist as amicus brief, where sometimes due to lack of training, amicus brief is just cited to support the personal beliefs of the psychologist.

Conclusion

As it has effectively been seen through different examples, no legal framework is perfect. Nonetheless, psychology is a stage towards making a legal framework perfect. Any examination which relates mental standards with legal applications is considered as legal psychology. Where on one hand, forensic psychology gives information about the psychological condition of accused and witness and furthermore gives data in regards to the treatment of those intellectually poorly charged; then again, the legal psychologists as researchers and academicians help in fostering the legal framework by giving new viewpoints to legal issues and by giving various answers for it. Henceforth, the job which psychology plays in the legal framework alters our legal framework and helps in keeping up with justice, value and great conscience.
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