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hugo münsterberg forensic psychology

A few years ago a painful scene occurred in Berlin, in the University Seminary of Professor von Liszt, the famous criminologist. When she was in hypnotic sleep, he suggested to her to return in the afternoon when she would find us both, and, as soon as he took out his watch, to declare her willingness to make a last will in which I should become the only heir to all her property. I could not foresee that all the explanation I was looking for would be furnished only a few days later by Nature herself. But the unintentional movements may become symptoms of feelings in still a different way. The mere fact that I myself seemed to give all my attention to the colour-wheel had evidently inhibited in them the impressions of the other side. Of course, the negative precautions must be supplemented by the positive ones. She wanted to run," -- and so on and so on. The world is full of badly balanced or badly associating persons; we cannot deny that nature provided them poorly in the struggle for social existence; they are less fit than others, but their ending within prison walls is only one of the many dangers which life has in store for them; the same unfit apparatus may make them unable to gain a position or to have friends or to protect themselves against disease. Of course, the illusory effect of a suggestion need not wait till the labour of the memory sets in. We found that there were, above all, two distinct classes. The difficulties experienced by judges, juries, and lawyers in probing for the truth where conflicting versions are presented are in no small measure responsible for the cynical attitude which is general toward the administration of justice. When the distance was ten, the answers varied between half a second and sixty seconds, a good number judging forty-five seconds as the right time. The ghastly memory of a gruesome past seems locked up in the hero's mind; and yet when he is brought back to the place of his deed, it comes to light in his paleness and trembling, in the empty glaring of his eyes and the breaking of his voice. The courts show in all other fields that the progress of science breaks new paths for them. He even developed criminal profiles, analyzing memory processes, perception, and even talked about how to determine witness credibility. I say that no field shows such a variety in normal limits as the memory, and this refers to its positive features as much as to its negative ones, as much to the remembering as to the forgetting. Under these circumstances, it is surprising and seems unjustifiable that lawyers and laymen alike should not have given any attention, so far, to the methods of measurement of association which experimental psychology has developed in recent years. If experimental psychology is to enter into its period of practical service, it cannot be a question of simply using the ready-made results for ends which were not in view during the experiments. The result is suddenly changed: he reads it, closes his eyes, turns his head, opens his eyes again, and, without his knowledge, his eyes have not followed his head but are still turned towards the exciting word -- 74the feeling interest has been betrayed by the unintentional backward rotation of the eye-balls. I suppose I must have made those statements, since they all say I did. But it was not only that she gave him all; under his control she began absurd lawsuits to deprive the family of all they owned; she swore on the witness stand in court to the most cruel accusations and attacks against her mother, who had never wavered in her devoted love for her daughter, and everyone who knew her before felt from her expression and her voice that she was not herself any more, but that she was the passive instrument of an unscrupulous schemer. And no subjective feeling of certainty can be an objective criterion for the desired truth. But just that the laboratory psychologist is aiming at constantly and successfully. And the sister wrote: "I should go crazy if I saw her often." One revolution of the index thus means the tenth part of a second, and, as the whole dial is divided into one hundred parts, every division indicates the thousandth part of a second. But there is still another way open to observe the changes in our blood vessels. We call the readiness to receive such suggestions from other persons suggestibility. But they have a worse memory than the boys as far as correctness is concerned; they unintentionally falsify more. Experiment shows that such changes occur, indeed, if our brain is excited; any emotional disturbance influences the resistance: it seems that the activity of the sweat-glands in the skin is under the nervous influence of our feelings, and the functioning of these glands alters the electrical conditions. . But it is not only a question of the favourite work of our hygienists, the infectious and germ diseases, together with the sanitary conditions of factories and tenements. My letter somehow reached the papers and I became the target for editorial sharp-shooters everywhere. Of course some kind of a "'common-sense" consideration has entered, consciously or unconsciously, into hundreds of judicial decisions, inasmuch as the contradictory evidence has to be sifted. The absolute time of associations is, of course, quite different for different persons; to link familiar ideas like "chair" -- "table" or "black" -- "white" may take for the slow type more than a full second, while the alert mind may not need more than half a second. Of course, every one believes that he would be sure to admit only harmless words to his lips; but the conditions of the experiment quickly destroy that feeling of safety. There is interest in another direction in the associations which result from a second and a third repetition of the series. And from that moment everything became a blur and a blank. But the fact is that I did something else also; I measured in fractions of a second the time between my calling the word and his giving a reply. And finally, my whole story under oath referred to two burglars, without any doubt at the moment. The counter ideas awake too slowly, hasty action results from the first impulse before it can be checked, the inhibition of the forbidden deed becomes ineffective, the desire for rash vehement movements becomes overwhelming. Or if a word was given as starting point for any associations which might arise in consciousness, the average number of associations in one minute was for the students ten, for the criminals five. The description, on the other hand, called it: soft, mellow, humming, deep, dull, solemn, resonant, penetrating, full, rumbling, clear, low; but then again, rough, sharp, whistling, and so on. It is not different in principle from the hypnotic confessions which a patient may make against his will. Her body was found, by the unfortunate defendant, lying face downwards on a manure pile in a barnyard. A Comprehensive Guide To The Fascinating World of Forensic Psychology, By David Webb, Copyright © 2006-2020 All-About-Forensic-Psychology.Com. I exposed it for five seconds, and asked them how many black spots were on the sheet. No statistics can tell the story, but we can suppose that persons suspected wrongly of a crime may, in the face of an unfortunate combination of damaging evidence, prefer to make a false confession in the hope of a recommendation to mercy. New leading impulses, new groups of memory associations, new groups of feelings enter each time into play and change the whole aspect of our life. They do not wish to see that in this field preeminently applied experimental psychology has made strong strides, led by Binet, Stern, Lipmann, Jung, Wertheimer, Gross, Sommer, Aschaffenburg, and other scholars. Although the articles were first published about fourteen years ago, they have lost none of their timeliness, interest, or helpfulness. No one will deny the importance of those Italian inquiries which were quickly amplified by the researchers of all countries. How is it altered by interruption of training or by the feeling-tone of the ideas? The lawyer alone is obdurate. In the course of three hundred associations I varied the subject repeatedly, and she remained to the end unconscious that she had given me all the information needed. The physician told the young man that he had stolen; the boy protested vehemently. I told him that I should call at first fifty words, and each time, when he heard a word, he was to name to me as quickly as possible the first thing which came to his mind on the hearing of the word. But the signs which made Hamlet sure that his mother had committed murder have not been overlooked by those who are on the track of the criminal in our practical life. The specialty of forensic psychology can trace its roots to the beginning of the 20th century, when Professor Hugo Münsterberg implored judges and lawyers to seek the assistance of psychologists when wrestling with a variety of issues they were faced with, and psychologists began assessing youth who were involved in legal proceedings in newly established juvenile courts. There is no judge and no jury, only the physician and the nurse, yet no torture of punishment can be harder than the suffering of the melancholic who feels remorse for sins which he never committed, for crimes of which he never thought before. In his field, he was a deep scholar and a thorough and intensive researcher. Now, there were mixed in among the fifty words many which had direct relation to his criminal career and to his professed religious conversion -- for instance, the words confession, revolver, religion, heaven, jury, death, Bible, pardon, railroad, blood, jail, prayer, and some names of his victims and of his alleged accomplices. The judges have on such occasions more of less boldly philosophised or psychologised on their own account; but to consult the psychological authorities was out of the question. The lawyer who knows his average juryman instinctively makes the richest use of all the psychological factors which bring the arguments of the one side fully into the focus of interest and suppress and inhibit the effectiveness of the opposite idea. The same paper, which had insisted that the defendant must be the murderer because no innocent man would ever confess such a brutal crime, brought out a few days later a long report which began as follows: "With death on the gallows only six days away, he asserts his innocence of the atrocious murder. Of course in a criminal procedure there cannot be any better evidence than a confession, provided that it is reliable and well proved. Münsterberg first applied the science of psychology to legal matters. It has to do with the domain of facts which holds the dramatic episodes of every controversy between man and man or man and state. The study of these powers no longer lies outside of the realm of science. Both those who turn to the present and to the future cannot have a desire for true liberating confession. Then we vary it by a test where various movements are to be made in response to different lights, so that a choice and discrimination is involved. There is therefore no danger to be feared from this side. When the objective time was three seconds, the answers varied between half a second and fifteen seconds. The issues Münsterberg raised, such as eyewitness misidentification and false confessions, continue to be of paramount importance in the 21st century. On a higher level we may demand that it shall be the idea of moral dignity which checks the forbidden impulse. It has brought and will bring health and through it, happiness to uncounted sufferers, and therefore it has come to stay. And even if the memory itself is correct, the narration may be dictated by suggestive influences and the reported story itself may work backwards with auto-suggestive influence on the memory. Words distinguished by the unsuggestible mind would count for much; those distinguished by the suggestible one for almost nothing. There is thus really no doubt that experimental psychology can furnish amply everything which the court demands: it can register objectively the symptoms of the emotions and make the observation thus independent of chance judgment, and, moreover, it can trace emotions through involuntary movements, breathing, pulse, and so on, where ordinary observation fails entirely. And because the disease does not develop perfectly new features, but simply reinforces quite ordinary tendencies, it is easy to see that there is nowhere a sharp line between the normal trait and its pathological over-functioning. In other words, there cannot be any doubt that the reports of such prophecies which are communicated after having been realised are falsified. In contradiction to all this I have to confess: I have my doubts as to the purity of Trilby's hypnotic singing, and I have more than doubts -- yes, I feel practically sure that no real murder has ever been committed by an innocent man under the influence of posthypnotic suggestion. It would not do to go on claiming, for instance, that thought is quick as lightning when the experiments of the astronomers had proved that even the simplest mental act is a slow process, the time of which can be measured. The question is now only whether the fear of a future judicial punishment will be a sufficient counter idea to check the criminal impulse. Hugo Münsterberg (/ ˈ m ʊ n s t ər b ɜːr ɡ /; June 1, 1863 – December 16, 1916) was a German-American psychologist.He was one of the pioneers in applied psychology, extending his research and theories to industrial/organizational (I/O), legal, medical, clinical, educational and business settings. Yet in both cases there were some who believed that they saw seven or eight times more points than some others saw; and yet we should be disinclined to believe in the sincerity of two witnesses, of whom one felt sure that he saw two hundred persons in a hall in which the other found only twenty-five. He never sought the company of women. at the University of Heidelberg in 1887. At once she replied that she had just spent the last winter in that city, and that she had met me there daily on the street, and that from the first she had planned to leave me all that she owned. The wish to take a book from the shelf on the wall would be indeed inhibited and the books themselves would become correspondingly invisible, while I should believe I saw the flowers in the garden, which I should feel ready to pick. Here no resistance from moral principle is involved; the man who throws away all he owns acts in accordance with the order because the impulse is not checked by the habits of a trained conscience. The man had confessed the crime. In the region of feelings and emotions the experimental methods of psychology have been certainly not less successful than in other fields of inner life. The preposterous accusations were for them too sufficient proof of guilt, and not to confess appeared to them as obstinacy. But the results show the very remarkable fact that the dangerous words brought, on the whole, no retardation of the associative process. It is evident that crime may thus result from most different reasons. There is nowhere a standard, and it may therefore be worth while to take a bird's-eye-view of the whole field in which hypnotism and crime come really or supposedly in contact with each other. Simulation is excluded: I measured the involuntary reactions. The word forensic is defined as “the scientific method for investigation of crime”. The unsuspicious word "box" brought quickly the equally unsuspicious "white"; and yet I knew at once that it was a candy-box, for the next word, "pound," brought the association "two" and the following, "book," after several seconds the unfit association "sweet." The figures showed that in the state of excitement both the outward and inward movements became too long, and in the state of depression both became too short; in the state of pleasure the outward movements became too long, the inward movements too short; in the state of displeasure the opposite -- the outward movements too short and the inward movements too long. The laboratory experiment can demonstrate in turn how the psychological conditions are changed when such a dreary state of waiting and monotony lays hold on the mind; how certain mental functions are starving and others dangerously overwrought. But modern psychology recognises daily more strongly that the subtlest analysis of the occurrences in the borderland field is absolutely necessary if the higher ends of social justice to be reached. Hugo Münsterberg (1863 – 1916) was a German-American psychologist and one of the pioneers in applied psychology (Forensic, Clinical, Industrial, and Educational psychology). It is the same way in which common-sense tells a man what kind of diet is most nourishing. Dreams are hallucinations which become harmless only because the impulses to action become ineffective during sleep. Other sciences are less slow to learn. And especially the progress of modern psychology has been too rapid in recent years to ignore it still with that condescension which was in order at the time when psychologists indulged in speculation and psychological laboratories were unknown. But between the common-sense of the average juryman and the medical science of the alienist the world of criminal facts cannot be divided fairly. Münsterberg, M. (1922). The clean conscience of a modern nation rejects every such brutal scheme in the search of truth, and yet is painfully aware that the accredited means for unveiling the facts are too often insufficient. It is perhaps no exaggeration to say that a new special science has even grown up' which deals exclusively with the reliability of memory. Everything seemed to point to the fact that the woman was murdered by an unknown person at another place, and that her body was dragged during the night by the copper wire coiled around her neck from another street to the barnyard. And such a weird spectacle of an elusive mind, which is the old personality and yet not the old self, is not quite rare in our court rooms. More than that: cannot science make visible that which is too faint and weak to be noticed by the ordinary observer? His 1908 book On the Witness Standdetail… I find, perhaps, that his judgment depends upon the grouping, that those thirty pieces suggest different numbers according as they lie in regular lines or in irregular disorder; according as they are shut off in small groups or grouped in one circle; surrounded by a frame, or accentuated by a few ink spots, or brightened by a light background, -- in short, that very various side factors suggest an erroneous judgment as to the number of the perceived things. There was no stove in the picture. He really shivers at the thought of hurting others. a subject’s perceptions could be effected by the circumstances, making his/her memory of the events that transpired or testimony inaccurate. . The one said that I grew purple-red from excitement; and the other found that I grew white like chalk. more mistakes than those of the first half. The innocent man, especially the nervous man, may grow as much excited on the witness stand as the criminal when the victim and the means of the crime are mentioned; his fear that he may be condemned unjustly may influence his muscles, glands and blood vessels as strongly as if he were guilty.

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