Application: Beginning Your Research
Perhaps more than any other area of psychology, forensic psychology has at its base, an empirical foundation. This is not to say that all forensic psychology professionals are researchers; they are not. However, forensic psychology professionals need to have a good understanding of statistical terminology, research design, and the contemporary empirical findings in their practice areas.
It has often been said that one can use statistics to support any hypothesis. Although this may have some truth to it, forensic psychology professionals need to understand what the empirical findings really do support or refute in their areas of interest. Eye-witness testimony research is an excellent example. As a forensic psychology professional testifying on the accuracy of eye-witness testimony, you would need to know the many findings in this area of research. You also would need to know competing theories, the amount of evidence for any single area, and even the limitations of individual research articles regarding eye-witness testimony. The tool that a forensic psychology professional uses to understand research in any area of study is the literature review.
This week, you begin the process of learning how to conduct a literature review, starting with perhaps one of the least accurate sources, the popular news media. By the time a research study is broken down by the media and presented to the general public many of the weaknesses are often left out. You will get a better feel for this issue throughout this course, but for this week, you start with this area of information dissemination.
To prepare for this assignment: Review Chapter 2 in your course text, Research Methods for the Behavioral Sciences. Focus on the guidelines for conducting an effective literature search. Think about how to search and locate research articles applicable to forensic psychology. Select a single topic that exemplifies the application of psychological research in forensic psychology. Research this topic and review three news articles you found related to the application of research in forensic psychology. Think about any possible flaws in the articles and why you believe they are flaws.
The assignment (2–3 pages): Briefly describe three news articles you selected (past or current) on a single topic in forensic psychology that you find most interesting. Briefly explain the search terms (keywords) you used. Describe any flaws you discovered in the articles. Then, explain your reasons for identifying the flaws you discovered.