The objectivity demand: experiences and behaviors of psychologists in capital case evaluations

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dc.contributor Brodsky, Stanley L.
dc.contributor Prentice-Dunn, Steven
dc.contributor Crowther, Martha R.
dc.contributor Shealy, R. Clayton
dc.contributor Salekin, Karen L.
dc.contributor McKnight, Utz Lars
dc.contributor.advisor Brodsky, Stanley L.
dc.contributor.author Neal, Tess Marie-Schrader
dc.date.accessioned 2017-03-01T16:34:29Z
dc.date.available 2017-03-01T16:34:29Z
dc.date.issued 2012
dc.identifier.other u0015_0000001_0001021
dc.identifier.other Neal_alatus_0004D_10881
dc.identifier.uri https://ir.ua.edu/handle/123456789/1506
dc.description Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
dc.description.abstract Mental health professionals who work in the legal system are bound by ethical standards to practice objectively and to leave personal beliefs and opinions out of their work; however, whether objectivity is practiced is an empirical question. This series of studies was designed to examine the effect of human bias and error in clinical forensic evaluations. Four specific aims were achieved: 1) integrating quantitative and qualitative methods in compiling descriptive information about forensic psychologists' occupational socialization processes, awareness of biases, capital punishment attitudes, and behaviors in capital case evaluations; 2) investigating how psychologists' personal attitudes toward capital punishment influence data interpretation and conclusions in assessments of capital defendants; 3) comparing evaluator awareness of bias to implicit bias; and 4) generating hypotheses for future research on bias recognition and mitigation. The studies involved a three-part mixed-method plan, starting with a qualitative interview with board-certified psychologists (N = 20). The purpose of the first study was to explore forensic psychologists' thoughts about and experiences with potential biases. An unexpected wealth of data emerged regarding strategies psychologists use to mitigate the effects of biases. Twenty seven unique bias correction strategies were discovered. Study two surveyed a large national sample of forensic psychologists (N = 334). Psychologists' personal attitudes toward capital punishment systematically predicted from whom they were willing to accept capital case referrals. This novel finding has not been documented elsewhere in the literature. An analysis of actual capital case reports was undertaken in the third study to examine the report-writing behavior of forensic psychologists (N= 122 reports). Results suggest psychologists act in more biased ways in than they think they do. Individual clinicians accounted for a large portion of the variance (up to 68%) in several outcome variables indicative of potential bias. Since bias is an issue worthy of concern, the field has a duty to teach new practitioners to become aware of and minimize the effects of potential biases. The strategies discussed herein may be beneficial for inclusion in clinical training programs to emphasize objectivity in the process of clinical judgment and decision-making.
dc.format.extent 263 p.
dc.format.medium electronic
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf
dc.language English
dc.language.iso en_US
dc.publisher University of Alabama Libraries
dc.relation.ispartof The University of Alabama Electronic Theses and Dissertations
dc.relation.ispartof The University of Alabama Libraries Digital Collections
dc.relation.hasversion born digital
dc.rights All rights reserved by the author unless otherwise indicated.
dc.subject.other Clinical psychology
dc.subject.other Psychology
dc.subject.other Behavioral sciences
dc.title The objectivity demand: experiences and behaviors of psychologists in capital case evaluations
dc.type thesis
dc.type text
etdms.degree.department University of Alabama. Dept. of Psychology
etdms.degree.discipline Psychology
etdms.degree.grantor The University of Alabama
etdms.degree.level doctoral
etdms.degree.name Ph.D.


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