Psychology & Law researchers at the University of Michigan study questions related to jury decision making, eyewitness testimony, legal and extra-legal influences on verdicts, and attitudes towards the death penalty. Faculty and student research has employed a wide range of methods, including laboratory experiments, field studies, simulations, surveys, and archival analyses. The University of Michigan Law School, one of the top ten law schools in the country, has several faculty who teach courses and conduct research on topics related to Psychology & Law.
Faculty in the Social and Cognitive Psychology Area with active research programs in Psychology & Law include:
Phoebe Ellsworth: Ellsworth studies jury decision making, including 1) jurors' competence to perform different aspects of their task (e.g., finding facts, assessing witness credibility, applying law) and ways to improve their performance, and 2) the effects of the composition of the jury (racial, attitudinal) on decision making. She is also an expert on capital punishment and the psychology of attitudes about the death penalty.
Richard Gonzalez: Gonzalez’s interest in psychology and law deals with eyewitness identification decisions (e.g., modeling how a witness selects someone from a police lineup). He also has interests in jury decision making.
Colleen Seifert: Seiffert's work in this area addresses the role of memory in jury reasoning. Case presentation results in a great deal of information in memory, from many sources and with varying degrees of certainty and relevance. How do jurors, or reasoners more generally, attribute and correct information in memory based on knowledge or inferences about its current status? Using laboratory studies, the influence of information on later judgments can be determined. Other work examines information status in memory with cognitive measures of interference to identify "guilty knowledge." Ongoing research extends the paradigm to witness memory and forensic investigation.