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Psychology and Law Lab

Overview

Legal psychology involves the study of the various psychological aspects of the legal system. In my Psychology and Law Lab, my students and I examine the social psychological factors that jeopardize defendants' right to due process.

I generally accept one graduate student and four undergraduate students into my Psychology and Law Lab on a yearly basis. While there is no formal application process, I do require that students take at least two courses with me (i.e., Research Methods and at least one psycholegal course) and earn "As" in the aforementioned courses before requesting to become a research assistant in my Psychology and Law Lab. In addition to taking coursework with me, I prefer students who demonstrate a strong interest in psychology and the law.

I currently collect all of my data at courthouses in the Twelfth Judicial Circuit (i.e., Desoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties) of Florida. I think that surveying venirepersons (i.e., people who have been called for jury duty via a random selection of driver's licenses and voter's registrations) is important for several reasons: 1) Venirepersons are a random sample of the jurisdiction from which they are selected and 2) Venirepersons are a representative sample of the jurisdiction from which they were selected. In addition, I think that surveying participants in field settings (i.e., "real people in the real world") enhances both the ecological and external validity of my research.

All of my studies involve parsimonious designs. I like to keep things simple for two reasons: 1) I think straightforward designs yield more powerful, practically significant findings; and 2) I want my research to be accessible to both legal scholars and legal practitioners.

Data collection is a just one facet of my Psychology and Law Lab. My research assistants and I hold biweekly research meetings in which we discuss psycholegal journal articles, legal rulings, and current psycholegal topics in the popular media. I believe that the power of research is in its application to real-world issues and my research assistants and I explore this concept on a regular basis.

Are you interested in becoming a research assistant in my Psychology and Law Lab? If so, feel free to e-mail me at bbutler@sar.usf.edu.