Sunday, July 31, 2016

Research byte: The influence of working memory and cognitive load on police shooting decisions, interrogation, and jury decisions

Working Memory and Cognitive Load in the Legal System: Influences on Police Shooting Decisions, Interrogation and Jury Decisions


The ability of police and jurors to make informed, unbiased decisions is paramount to the integrity of the legal system. Police and jurors as decision-makers follow procedures ensuring that individuals receive a fair trial from the time of arrest to sentencing. However this process has come under public scrutiny with recent negative media attention focused on police shootings, aggressive handling or interrogation of suspects, and jurors’ seemingly biased treatment of minority group members. Most researchers studying factors that motivate police and juror behavior focus on the external influences of decision-making, such as the climate of violence in a neighborhood, or culturally-entrenched criminal stereotypes. Fewer have focused on the cognitive factors that impact the internal decision-making processes. In this review we compile the research on individual differences in cognitive ability (e.g., working memory capacity) and event circumstances (e.g., high emotion, attention load), that influence police and jury decision-making. The majority of studies in this area are laboratory-based which may attenuate the transfer of findings to real-world settings, but cognitive mechanisms engaged in the field are likely similar. Overall, this review suggests that overload of cognitive capacity reduces controlled processing ability, which may work to undermine the reliability of decision-making at all phases of the legal process. Field studies are needed to better understand when decision-makers may be overburdened, and what interventions are most appropriate.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Stephen Greenspan on "Why DSM5 suggested a switch from adaptive behavior to adaptive reasoning": APA Div 33 featured conversation

My long time friend and professional colleague Dr. Stephen Greenspan, is conducting a featured conversation hour for Division 33 at the forthcoming APA convention in Denver.  He has provided me an advanced copy of his outline and has graciously given me permission to make it available at the ICDP blog.  A copy can be obtained by clicking here.

Stephen is one of the great "thinkers" in the field of intellectual disabilities.  Our professional lives crossed long distance when I was a doctoral student.  My advisor, Dr. Robert Bruininks, put me in charge of a series of studies investigating the constructs of adaptive and maladaptive behavior.  These studies eventually led to my dissertation--which was a CFA validation study of Greenspan's Model of Personal Competence (see 1990 reference below).  To the best of my knowledge, this was the first published article validating Greenspan's model.

Below are links to the various articles (I simply grabbed them from my MindHub web page--please visit if you want additional information).  Consistent with Stephen's outline notes, in this validated model of personal competence, conceptual intelligence was operationalized as measured by intelligence tests, and was not considered a domain of adaptive behavior.

Of interest is the recent study by MaCann et al. that provides structural (CFA) evidence for a separate cognitively oriented social-emotional construct, distinct from the other cognitive domains in the CHC taxonomy of human intelligence.  Although MaCann et al. refer to the construct as emotional intelligence, a reading of the dimensions suggest it could easily be called social intelligence.  

Finally, as Bruininks and I were pulled away from our AB/PC program of research for different reasons, I continue to be perplexed why other researchers have not tried to extend and refine the research on the model of personal competence, particularly given its prominence (and disagreements) in definitions of ID.

Adaptive Behavior and Personal Competence Research (select articles)