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When Law and Psychology Meet

  • Hans F. M. Crombag
Part of the Research in Criminology book series (RESEARCH CRIM.)

Abstract

Psychologists working in the field of law and psychology tend to think that there is a special relationship between the two disciplines. The law, as a system of rules and a practice of applying these rules, is a human, perhaps an all too human, enterprise. The rules of law, however, are not only invented and applied by men; they are also meant to apply to men. As a device for the control of human behavior, the law is subject to empirical constraints of a psychological nature. In order to be successful, the law must take into account the possibilities and impossibilities of human behavior. The rules can only prescribe what is humanly possible; they cannot forbid what is humanly unavoidable. As an institution it should only take measures that can successfully affect behavior. There is no moral issue here; it is merely a matter of practicalities. If the law disregards the constraints of empirical psychology, it simply becomes ineffective. Whether that would be morally wrong is at best a secondary question.

Keywords

Criminal Case Attribution Theory Eyewitness Testimony Variable Ratio Schedule Fundamental Attribution Error 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hans F. M. Crombag

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