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Are Psychology and Law good bedfellows? - Book Review by Dr Hugh Koch

18/03/19. Professor Hugh Koch reviews the latest book attempting to answer this question:

Psychology and Law: Research and Practice by Bartol C.R., Bartol A.M. (Sage Publications, London, 2019)

This attractive and readable text by two authors with extensive experience as clinicians and educators illustrates many topics in criminal and legal jurisdictions. Topics include family law, mental health evaluations, police investigations, jury selection and decision making, and involuntary civil commitment.

The relationship between Psychology and Law continues to develop and grow and has already been well established as mutually advantageous. Despite obvious differences in assumptions, goals and practices not only do lawyers and psychologists work closely together in court contexts but the body of psychological research, is in itself, becoming more accessible to lawyers, barristers and the judiciary.

This is the 2nd edition of Psychology and Law covering new topics such as neuropsychological assessments and children and the law. The chapter on ‘Psychology and the Courts’ (chapter 2) is of particular interest and very well constructed, exploring the judicial process in depth.

Despite its emphasis on USA-based practice it has a balanced view of the UK and USA literature and research. Like many texts on this broad subject, its emphasis is more on criminal and forensic contexts than civil litigation, personal injury or medical negligence. Maybe the 3rd edition can take this into account.

An accessible and interesting textbook for the student, both legal and psychological.

Professor Hugh Koch, visiting Professor in Law and Psychology, Birmingham City University.

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