Universität Wien FIND

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030391 KU Course, 2 hours, with continuous assessment (2020S)

This class presents the psychology of law. Law is fundamentally a human endeavour. It is deeply impacted by the way in which people (e.g., plaintiffs, lawyers, and judges) think , feel and behave. As a result, Psychology is an important framework for understanding most legal issues. In particular, psychology illuminates why people get into conflicts and how humans create and apply laws.

3.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 3 - Rechtswissenschaften
Continuous assessment of course work


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


max. 40 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Monday 04.05. 09:00 - 12:00 Seminarraum SEM31 Schottenbastei 10-16, Juridicum, 3.OG
Wednesday 06.05. 09:00 - 12:00 Seminarraum SEM31 Schottenbastei 10-16, Juridicum, 3.OG
Friday 08.05. 09:00 - 12:00 Seminarraum SEM31 Schottenbastei 10-16, Juridicum, 3.OG
Monday 11.05. 09:00 - 12:00 Seminarraum SEM31 Schottenbastei 10-16, Juridicum, 3.OG
Wednesday 13.05. 09:00 - 12:00 Seminarraum SEM31 Schottenbastei 10-16, Juridicum, 3.OG
Friday 15.05. 09:00 - 12:00 Seminarraum SEM31 Schottenbastei 10-16, Juridicum, 3.OG


Aims, contents and method of the course

The study of psychology, much like that of law, encompasses several sub-disciplines. For example, personality psychologists study the differences between individuals, whereas social psychologists study the way in which individuals and groups impact each other. Clinical psychologists study disordered thoughts, feelings and behaviours within individuals. Finally, cognitive psychologists focus on the thought processes that occur when individuals interact with the outside world. All of these areas of study are informed by the traits shared by all humans (i.e., human nature).
The study of law maps well onto these areas of psychological research. For instance, much as social psychologists study the way in which individuals are impacted by the groups they belong to, legal researchers examine the legal systems created as humans have organised themselves into small groups, nations, and eventually international bodies. Furthermore, there is a long history of cognitive psychologists studying the way in which the frailty of human cognition impacts the way in which eye-witnesses remember the scene of a crime.
This course explores these areas where the study of the mind and the study of law intersect. More specifically we will explore the study and practice of law through the lens of empirically-tested psychological theories.

The class is a mixture of lecture and seminar. The professor will introduce concepts and then the class will discuss them and answer questions aimed at applying them and better understanding the concepts.

Assessment and permitted materials

The assessment is:
(1) class participation in discussion and exercises (20%) and
(2) an original essay on any class topic (80%).
This essay is a legal-psychological research article about an issue in which law and psychology collide. The students may choose any topic covered in the course, or other relevant topic subject to approval by the professor. The professor will assist in ensuring the students can use these finished works to further their interest in the topic (e.g., expanding on it an submitting it to journals). The word limit is 3,000 words, excluding citations.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Students are assessed on the following criteria:
• Demonstrates understanding of fundamental concepts in psychology
• Applies psychological theories and findings to legal issues, doctrines and rules
• Develops or adapts convincing arguments and provides strong justification
• Communicates information and ideas clearly and fluently
• Shows consistent originality in generating arguments

Examination topics

Students may pick any topic covered in class to write their essay about.

Reading list

[All articles are available through your university library access. If you have any trouble, contact the professor: jason.chin@sydney.edu.au]

Class 1: Introduction to psychology and Law
Keith E Stanovich, How to Think Straight About Psychology (Pearson, 2012), Chapter 1 Psychology is alive and well (and doing fine among the sciences) 1-18.
Kathleen A Kennedy & Emily Pronin, ‘Bias Perception and the Spiral of Conflict’ in Jon Hanson and John Jost (eds), Ideology, Psychology, and Law (Oxford University Press, 2012
Jesse Graham, Jonathan Haidt & Brian A Nosek, ‘Liberals and Conservatives Rely on Different Sets of Moral Foundations’ (2009) 96:5 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1029.

Class 2: The credibility revolution in psychology and beyond
Jason M Chin, ‘Psychological Science’s Replicability Crisis and What It Means for Science in the Courtroom’ (2014) 20:3 Psychology, Public Policy, and Law 225.
Jason M Chin, Gianni Ribeiro & Alicia Reardon, ‘Open Forensic Science’ (2019) 6:1 The Journal of Law and the Biosciences 255.
Leif D Nelson, Joseph Simmons & Uri Simonsohn, ‘Psychology’s Renaissance’ (2017) 69 Annual Review of Psychology 17.

Class 3: Expert evidence
Jason M Chin, Michael Lutsky & Itiel E Dror ‘The biases of experts: An empirical analysis of expert witness challenges’ (2019) 42:4 Manitoba Law Journal 21

Class 4: Psychology and wrongful convictions
Jason M Chin & William E Crozier, ‘Rethinking the Ken Through the Lens of Psychological Science’ (2018) 55:3 Osgoode Hall Law Journal 625

Class 5: Judicial decision making, juries, and eyewitnesses
Lee Epstein et al, ‘Ideology and the Study of Judicial Behavior’ in Jon Hanson and John Jost (eds), Ideology, Psychology, and Law (Oxford University Press, 2012).
Steven E Clark et al, ‘Eyewitness Identification and the Accuracy of the Criminal Justice System’ (2015) 2:1 Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences 175-186.

Class 6: Neurolaw, punishment, and the emerging science of happiness
Christopher Slobogin, ‘Neuroscience Nuance: Dissecting the Relevance of Neuroscience in Adjudicating Criminal Culpability’ (2017) 4:3 Journal of Law & the Biosciences 577.
Avani Mehta Sood & Kevin M Carlsmith, ‘Aggressive Interrogation and Retributive Justice: A Proposed Psychological Model’ in Jon Hanson and John Jost (eds), Ideology, Psychology, and Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).
Lawrence S Krieger & Kennon M Sheldon, ‘What Makes Lawyers Happy?: A Data-Driven Prescription to Redefine Professional Success’ (2015) 83:2 The George Washington Law Review 554.

Association in the course directory

Last modified: Mo 07.09.2020 15:19