October 1, 2013
Psychological association admits that forensic experts are biased in favor of who hires them
"Forensic psychologists and psychiatrists are ethically bound to be impartial when performing evaluations or providing expert opinions in court. But new research suggests that courtroom experts’ evaluations may be influenced by whether their paycheck comes from the defense or the prosecution. The research is published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
The findings reveal that experts who believed they were working for prosecutors tended to rate sexually violent offenders as being at greater risk of re-offending than did experts who thought they were working for the defense.
“We were surprised by how easy it was to find this ‘allegiance effect,’” says psychological scientist Daniel Murrie of the University of Virginia. “The justice system relies often on expert witnesses, and most expert witnesses believe they perform their job objectively — these findings suggest this may not be the case.”
Murrie and co-author Marcus Boccaccini at Sam Houston State have worked in forensic psychology for years, watching the adversarial justice system use forensic experts to gain an advantage in their cases."