Research in the Psychology, Law, Emotions, and Attitudes (PLEA) Lab focuses on the application of social and cognitive psychology to questions and issues related to law and the legal system. Currently, the PLEA Lab is involved in research projects addressing these important issues:
A primary area of research in the lab focuses on a specific phenomenon called the verbal overshadowing effect. First demonstrated in the eyewitness memory literature, the verbal overshadowing effect (VOE) is observed when participants demonstrate impaired eyewitness identification accuracy after providing a verbal description of a previously seen perpetrator. The main goal the lab’s current research on the VOE is to examine the cognitive mechanisms underlying the VOE in an attempt to understand why verbal overshadowing occurs.
Public Attitudes Toward Police
Another area of the research in the lab examines public attitudes toward police officers. Specifically, we examine factors that influence people’s judgments of an officer’s use of force after witnessing an ambiguous police officer-civilian confrontation video. Our research, motivated by social and cognitive psychological theories, is designed to examine how people process such videos and subsequently make decisions about the actions of the police officer and civilian depicted in the videos.
Research Methodologies and Quantitative Methods in Forensic Psychology
Research in the lab also explores various research methods and quantitative treatments used in forensic psychological research. There is a need for a careful reevaluation of both research design and quantitative analysis used in forensic psychological research. Concerning research methodologies, current research in the lab examines issues such as the use of crowdsourced samples in forensic psychological research. Regarding quantitative methods, research in the lab compares statistical procedures used to assess eyewitness identification accuracy. The newest research endeavor in the lab has been to apply a Bayesian approach to eyewitness identification research.