Forensic psychology

Clinical and critical

Authored by: Sam Warner

Handbook of Critical Psychology

Print publication date:  April  2015
Online publication date:  April  2015

Print ISBN: 9781848722187
eBook ISBN: 9781315726526
Adobe ISBN: 9781317537182


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Forensic psychology operates at the interface between psychology and the law. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in this area of psychology. This is not least because the application of psychology to understanding criminals and criminal behaviour has been increasingly popularized through fictional television programmes, movies, and books. For example, most people know about criminal ‘profiling’ through reference to the work of the FBI’s Behavioral Research and Instruction Unit (BRIU) at Quantico, USA, in programmes such as ‘Criminal Minds’; in reference to individual depictions of maverick psychology profilers in programmes such as the British ‘Cracker’; or in films and books such as the era-defining ‘The Silence of the Lambs’. These fictional media representations shape our perceptions and beliefs about crime and justice, and the role of the forensic psychologist. For example, when ‘Cracker’ was first aired on British TV (1993–1996) one British University noted that, although the overall number of applications to their undergraduate psychology programme did not increase, over 90 per cent of applicants during this period referenced forensic psychology as a reason they wanted to study psychology – previously, forensic psychology had been mentioned in a minority of applications (Entwisle, personal communication 1996). In fact, ‘offender profiling’ represents a small part of forensic psychology.

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