Forensic and legal psychology

Roman Kraft

What are we researching?

Psychologists can contribute to (criminal) justice in various ways. For example, they can advise on the reliability of witness statements, provide information on neuroscientific explanations for antisocial behaviour, and contribute to the diagnosis and treatment of mentally disturbed criminals. We research these topics.

Why are we doing this research?

In all our research, we focus on new techniques to improve existing practice. For example, we investigate how psychologists can communicate their advice to lawyers using a Bayesian model. We also investigate whether and how neuroscientific methods (e.g., EEG) can improve diagnostics in forensic clinics. Another research theme revolves around psychological tests to find out whether a client exaggerates their complaints. Finally, we look at the sustainability of classifications of criminals and the effectiveness of treatment programs for, for example, problem youths.

How are we doing this research?

We conduct research in practice and in the laboratory.

How does our research make an impact?

Research on forensic psychological expertise resulted in codification of alternative scenario thinking in expert practice in Dutch criminal law (www.NRGD.nl). Furthermore, our research contributes to the identification of factors that help determine the validity of witness statements. With our study on neuroscientific correlates of crime, we want to implement neuropsychological and neuroscientific measurements in forensic practice. Furthermore, we advocate the implementation of measurement tools that help detect dishonest answers during forensic diagnostic examinations. Our research on psychopathy and other dark personality traits aims to increase understanding of the origins, prevention and treatment of crime. We have contacts at and regularly present our results to the judiciary, the Public Prosecution Service, the police, forensic clinics and youth welfare agencies.

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