Forensic psychology is a subset of psychology. This thing is related to the law and it’s working with the criminal justice system. As we know, a psychologist may work in many settings, including prisons, police departments, and courts. Want to know more about the history of forensic psychology? Here its brief story:
The Beginning of Forensic Psychology
Psychologists practice this subset of psychology in the legal system, especially in the courts. Here are three psychologists that conducted their research in forensic psychology:
- McKeen Catell
McKeen Catell took the first research and study on the psychology of testimony at Columbia University. He conducted his studies in 1893. In his study, McKeen Cattell asked a series of questions to 56 college students.
Among the issues were: What was the weather like one week ago? Do chestnut or oak trees lose their leaves earlier in autumn? In addition, McKeen Catell asked several questions about their confidence. His study discovered that confidence did not equal correctness.
- William Stern
In 1901, this psychologist worked together with a criminologist. They worked on an experiment. Those researchers arranged a false argument in a law class. It ended with one student drawing a revolver. At this end, the researchers involved themselves and stopped the fight.
All students were requested to give oral and written reports. The finding of their study revealed that emotions reduced the correctness of recall.
Forensic Psychology during the World Wars
During the World Wars, there was stagnation in forensic psychology research. In 1940s and in 1950s, several psychologists started to testify some psychological topics in courts. In 1954, several psychologists gave evidence in the Brown versus the Board of Education, and they played a role in the decision of the court.
After that time, forensic psychology began to grow. Several graduate programs started to provide dual degree in law and psychology. Then the American Psychological Association formally accepted the forensic psychology as a subset of psychology.
Media’s Role in the Growth of Forensic Psychology
Media indeed plays a powerful role in the growth of forensic psychology. Some books, movies, and news have pushed the forensic psychology to public. Those media raise public interest and also awareness in the forensic psychology.
For example, several books presented forensic psychology in the famous public discourse. Then, televisions and movies often presented a forensic psychology as a challenging and exciting career.
Experts or the Main Players in Forensic Psychology
There were many experts who began to conduct research on forensic psychology or psychology in the courts. They were:
- James McKeen Catell in 1800s,
- Huge Munsterberh in 1908,
- Alfred Binet,
- Wiliam Stern,
- Wiliam Marston, and
- Lewis Terman.
Forensic psychology now has been known and officially admitted as a subset of psychology. That history of forensic psychology can bring us back to the beginning of forensic psychology. That history also reveals the truth, experts’ effort, and the role of media in that time in spreading the forensic psychology to public.