Forensic psychology is a recent field in the forensic sciences, so there are still many forensic psychology research topics to explore. Forensic psychology research questions focus on the intersection of psychology and different legal issues, and some examples of forensic psychology research topics are criminal justice, expert testimony, and forensic mental health assessments.
To write a good forensic psychology paper, you’ll need to use investigative skills to examine the application of psychology to different legal concepts. In this article, we’ll cover the most interesting topics in the field and give you some examples of forensic psychology research questions.
What Makes a Strong Forensic Psychology Research Topic?
A strong forensic psychology research topic has to address societal concerns and ethical issues while improving the quality of the legal system. The topic has to be something within the scope of legal psychology where you can use scientific methodology to collect data and make comparisons.
Tips for Choosing a Forensic Psychology Research Topic
- Brainstorm a list of possible topics. Create a list with as many forensic psychology topics as you can. Look for inspiration online, in scientific journals, and in your classes and textbooks.
- Choose a few topics that interest you. Now that you have an extensive list of topic ideas, pick the ones that interest you the most. Choosing topics that you like will make your research easier.
- Consider the difficulty of research. Some forensic psychology topics are harder to research than others. Some require complex ethical licenses, specific questionnaires, and controlled conditions. Pick current research topics that are easier to research.
- Do background research. Learn what other work has been done regarding the topic you chose. You’ll get a better understanding of what questions still need to be answered and what kinds of forensic evaluations are required in your current research topic. Good background research is half the work.
- Specify your topic and define your research questions. By now you should be able to focus on a forensic psychology issue that still needs to be explored. Make sure your topic is specific, and try to come up with some interesting research questions.
What’s the Difference Between a Research Topic and a Research Question?
The difference between a research topic and research question is the scope. A research topic is a specific area of forensic psychology that’s part of a broader subject. An example of forensic psychology research topics is the association between personality disorders and criminal behavior or how expert witnesses influence jury behavior.
A research question is a specific aspect that you want to investigate through research. Considering the previous topics, an example of a forensic psychology research question could be “Are individuals who are diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder more likely to be stalkers?” or “Does a clinical psychologist’s gender affect the jury’s perception of the evidence?”
How to Create Strong Forensic Psychology Research Questions
Strong forensic psychology research questions need to address current and relevant issues in the legal system, and you have to be able to answer them with research in a forensic psychology laboratory or by analyzing data from court cases. A strong research question is specific and simple. Forensic psychology courses can help you learn how to create strong research questions.
Top 10 Forensic Psychology Research Paper Topics
1. Screening Law Enforcement Recruits
Creating a fair and effective legal force requires careful screening of law enforcement officers. Forensic psychology experts help assess the competence of law enforcement candidates through psychological tests, personal interviews, and simulating ethical issues in on-the-job scenarios.
2. Forensic Psychology Tools to Assess Truthfulness
Much of the criminal justice system is based on a wide range of witness testimony from law enforcement officials to defendants. Assessing the truth of testimony is important to make sure justice is served. Forensic psychologists can use their clinical skills to develop lines of questioning in forensic interviews to try to assess whether individuals are telling the truth.
3. Eyewitness Testimony and Faulty Memory
Many legal cases use eyewitness memory, but false memories can be planted in eyewitnesses through misleading questions, misinterpretations of events, or personal expectations. Cognitive psychology can help us understand how memories are made and remade, and applying this knowledge in the forensic arena could help reduce wrongful convictions.
4. The Association Between Schizophrenia and Criminal Behavior
Existing research shows a link between schizophrenia and crime, but not all people with schizophrenia commit crimes, and plenty of people without schizophrenia commit crimes. Current topics in this field explore what additional risk factors are involved and what interventions might help individuals avoid criminal behavior.
5. Mental Illness and The Death Penalty
Criminals with mental illnesses are not exempt from the death penalty, only juvenile offenders and adults with intellectual disabilities are exempt. Some defendants use the insanity defense, citing mental illness. Forensic scientists can provide an assessment of competence to see if a person was in control during alleged criminal behavior.
6. Forensic Psychology in Cases of Child Abuse
Forensic psychologists play many roles in cases of child abuse. They’re required to evaluate both the alleged victim and perpetrator, provide psychological assistance if required, and even be called on to the court as an expert witness. This legal context has objectivity and bias issues that need to be studied.
7. Ethical Issues with Interviewing Children as Eyewitnesses
Using children as eyewitnesses is a source of heavy debate and ethical concerns. The main concerns are the accuracy of a child’s memory and adults’ perceptions of children’s memories. There is still a lot to research about the biases in this topic and whether it is ethical to ask children to relive memories of domestic violence and other crimes.
8. The Future Implications of Being a Juvenile Offender
Predicting the future of juvenile offenders is an important aspect of forensic psychology. Experts in this field can help determine if a juvenile offender might be at risk of having criminal behaviors in the future, and what interventions can successfully help juvenile offenders avoid future issues with the law.
9. The Association Between Childhood Trauma and Antisocial Behavior
According to one study, childhood trauma is a risk factor for developing antisocial personality disorder and psychopathy. Forensic psychologists use this topic to better understand how different types of childhood trauma, later on, turn into different types of antisocial behaviors.
10. The Forensic Psychologist’s Role in Child Custody Decisions
The forensic psychologist’s role in child custody cases is to help the court decide which parent can provide the best care for the child. They conduct interviews with the child and the parents, make home visits, and evaluate the general mental health of the parents. Creating culturally competent evaluation tools is very important in this field of scholarship.
Other Examples of Forensic Psychology Research Topics & Questions
Forensic Psychology Research Topics
- The practical implications of anger management interventions in prison
- Teachers as forensic evaluators in child custody disputes
- The challenges of forensic psychological evaluations in family law
- The main factors that contribute to eyewitness testimony distortion
- The differences between forensic and correctional psychology
Forensic Psychology Research Questions
- Can an anxiety disorder be used for a non-imputability plea?
- Can forensic psychologists predict the risk of future dangerousness through a questionnaire?
- How does mental competency affect the results of criminal sentencing?
- Are people with certain mental health issues more likely to commit crimes?
- How do forensic evaluations differ based on circumstantial evidence and bias?
Choosing the Right Forensic Psychology Research Topic
If you’re looking for the right forensic psychology research topic for your next paper, make sure to find a niche that not only inspires and motivates you but also is relevant to the current issues of society and the legal system.
Mental illness, childhood trauma, and eyewitness testimonies are only a few topics that you can choose as forensic psychology research topics. If you conduct thorough background research and come up with great questions, you’ll have a quality research paper in no time.
Forensic Psychology Research Topics FAQ
Yes, there are many online graduate programs in forensic psychology. A popular choice is an online Master’s Degree in Forensic Psychology. As long as you meet all of the admission requirements you can get your forensic psychology degree online. Doctoral programs usually require on-campus attendance.
A forensic scientist is someone who applies scientific methods and procedures to help solve legal cases. There are many reasons to become a forensic scientist come from a range of fields, from forensic psychology to chemistry.
A career as a forensic psychologist does pay well. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage is $100,130 for psychologists, with projected job growth of eight percent between 2020 and 2030. This growth is as fast as the average for all occupations.
Many other jobs use psychology besides a career in forensic psychology. Clinical psychologists, experimental psychologists, school psychologists, or market research analysts are all possible career fields once you get a degree in psychology.
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