Date of Award

2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

David Faust

Abstract

Surveys on the evaluation of the scientific merit of expert witness testimony were mailed to 600 doctoral-level members of the American Psychological Association with professional experience in psychology and the law. Participants were asked questions related to their training, education, and professional experience, and questions aimed at clarifying participants' understanding of the error rate and general acceptance of methods. Participants were also asked to estimate the weight they would place on variables of potential relevance to the admissibility of expert witness testimony, and to estimate the weight they believe a judge would place on a subset of those variables. 126 surveys were returned in analyzable form. Results indicate that forensic psychologists are very consistent in their self-reported weights, and their estimated weights for judges. Participants report that they place moderate to great weight on virtually all variables and that they place greater weight on a wider range of variables than judges do, with the exception of face validity. The results are discussed in the context of legal, scientific, and philosophical views of scientific merit, and research on judgment and decision-making.

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