The Emergence of Forensic Media Psychology

The Emergence of Forensic Media Psychology
 Author: Kushala Prasad,
studying BA LLB ,
 Christ (deemed to be University) 

The paper consists of a overview of various contemporary legal issues that have arised through forensic psychology and how its implementation is necessary in the media industry. Forensic media law is essential to various practitioners, researchers, scholars and students of fields pertaining to law, psychology, journalism and other sociological schools of thought. The emergence of forensics and media law is slow however, its importance must not be neglected due to its present unimportance. The paper is going to address the need for regulation of forensic media psychology in the realm of criminal investigation and the importance of psychological assessment of factors during the same.
Key words: Forensic Media Psychology, Criminal Investigation, Social Media, Forensic Investigator, Public Policy.
Human behaviour is irrational. There is no set procedure to determine how the mind responds to social stimuli. Social stimuli is not a pattern that can be predictable through math. It is abstract, it is dynamic and is ever changing according to its atmosphere. Humans however have developed cognitive sets of replies to certain similar situations for example, in case of an instance of rape, people often instantly respond with fear and disgust. These reactions to such social stimuli lead us to forming opinions surrounding the area of rape. Forensic psychology has till today dealt with the essence of understanding truth through such opinions. However, little discovery has been made to find out the exact truth.[1]Forensic media psychology is that area that correlates with the fields of law, sociology, public policy, intellectual property, marketing dynamics and several other scopes of study.
The study of forensic media psychology was introduced as a norm in entertainment industries through rigorous litigation and criminal disputes. The field has become of utmost importance due to its need in media firms and several governmental organisations to objectively analyse what influences the mind to act in a certain way. The behavioural impacts of forensic media psychology is influential in determining current media based phenomena including cyber bullying, cyber-terrorism and theft of intellectual property.[2]It is a rigorous study to understand the mental constructs that provoke informed behaviour.
The media is a platform for several communities and individuals to voice out their concerns and campaign for a select law reform. The media acts as a pillar of support for various backward socially excluded groups to come out of their deliberate isolation and be given a chance to communicate with other socio economic groups. The media ever since its inception has been growing constantly in order to aid the masses in understanding several issues persisting among various communities. The freedom of circulation as granted under Article 19 of the Constitution has been cited by various judges and juries of the court not just in India but also in several other countries to reiterate the need of the press despite the trying times. The media balanced the needs of both the government and its people to ensure every individuals right is not unheard and every citizens unfair treatment is outspoken. In the case of Sakal Papers V. Union of India, the courts have reiterated the right to freedom of circulation by distributing newspapers all across the country and has made a significant impact on the people. This change would not have been
possible if not for the unsurmountable pressure that have been put through various communal groups and trade unions to introduce a new system of governance in a democracy.
It was within the computer age that the term “information society” acquired wide currency to describe the context within which we now live. An information society was one that introduced the group of tech savvies that were well versed in the language of the computer and the internet. The “communication revolution”[3]became a fast paced social stigma wherein both work and leisure were measured to ascertain the level of output the revolution brought about in determining the effects of communication in an isolated society. Digital media is now a part of everyday processes. The digital era has not only been a source of leisure for the adolescents of this generation but has also been of great importance in the medical and healthcare sector. It has been an invention of prime importance for the forensic department due to its adaption through newer forms of technology and content generation. Media has advanced studies of various psychological issues and has open opportunities for a wider range of societal issues that need to be explored. Psychology being one of the prime aspects of this essay, the role of media in determining psychological behaviour will be discussed through its legal implications. Forensic media psychology has been introduced as a newer concept and a subset under forensic psychology due to vast growth in human behaviour and faster adaptation to the needs of the society. The ambit of forensics is growing and so is the rate of crime. In this digital world, the increasing rates of cyber terrorism and cyber bullying calls[4]for not only punishment of offenders but also analysing the human behaviour of such individuals to detect the position of the offender from its initial stages itself. This would speed up the pace of investigation by leaps and bounds further providing a safety net for various other victims and non-victims to be aware of the symptoms of such cyber-crime.
History of Forensic Psychology
James Mackeen Cattell a renowned psychologist was known to have conducted some of the earliest researches in psychology. He conducted an experiment at the University of Columbia asking them to provide their response and rate their degree of confidence in each answer. What took a surprising turn is the amount of uncertainty that was brought about when answering those questions. A similar experiment was conducted with a group of eye witnesses and the results were still the same. Shaky. This caused a series of issues concerning the validity of their usefulness and their statements in court. In 1896, a psychologist by the name of Albert von Schrenck-Notzing testified at a murder trial about the effects of suggestibility on witness testimony.[5]Stanford Psychologist Lewis Terman was known for his inter disciplinary study of applying psychology to law enforcement and an experiment was conducted in order to ascertain the intelligence of job candidates that were willing to apply for law enforcement jobs. In 1908, German- American psychologist Hugo Munsterberg published a book “On the Witness Stand”[6], a book advocating the use of psychology in legal matters. In the landmark 1954 case of Brown v. Board of Education[7], several psychologists testified for the plaintiffs and the defendants. Later, the courts gave support to psychologists serving as mental illness experts in the case of Jenkins v. the United States[8]. The word forensics originates from the word “forensic” which means “the forum” thus referring to the court system of Ancient Rome. Forensics since its inception has been used as an evidence producing platform in order to determine various facets of truth during criminal trial. What has evolved is its implication in the media and entertainment industry. The American Board of Forensic Psychology describes this field as the application of psychology to the legal system.
The role of forensic psychology in criminal justice
The digital era has given birth to a lot of content online including the growth of script writers, directors, screen play artists and certain issues are discussed more freely than others. This is inclusive of the number of forensic psychologists that are used as “criminal profilers” in high rated television series such as Criminal Minds or Mind Hunter. From investigations to several courtroom debates in “Minds on Trial: Great Cases in Law and Psychology”[9]UB law professor Charles Patrick Ewing, J.D., Ph.D., and Joseph T. McCann, Psy.D., J.D., examine the sometimes bizarre and often intriguing workings of the human mind, as exposed by the legal system and by the psychologists who worked on the cases. The famous case of Ted Bundy who was known for his “charismatic” killing who brutally assaulted and murdered several women was first examined by a group of forensic psychologists. He acknowledged himself as a cold blooded killer in it for the chase of killing women. The irony in this situation was the fact that he was a clean- cut law student with no adult criminal record. This case was picked to identify the job of a forensic psychologist in a criminal proceeding and also through analysis point out the flaws in such study. The appellant Nita Neary in the case of Bundy V. State[10] was kept under hypnosis to recollect events of the crime scene and through examination, various testimonials were brought out which were not recorded at the time prior to the hypnosis. There were claims of the hypnotist persuading the appellant to see and recall circumstances that were in fact not present at the time of event. The position of a hypnotist is powerful and suggestively influential for a party to twist the facts of a particular scenario towards their favour. Similarly, the results of this particular test were inconclusive in fact however, through evidence and the position of law, the appellants contention was taken forth and the defendant was held guilty.
To correlate this particular incident with social media, there is a vast amount of biased information also called “input data” that is stored in the form of opinions or case studies or other forms of “factual” matter. However, the validity of the fact of the matter is unascertainable and  can lead to controversial conclusions. The media is a hub for a plethora of information and people can choose to pick a side to favour their stance. These stances however, need not be true nor do they have to be according to a particular persons “conscience”. The extent of influence digital networking has on an individual’s thinking capacity is to be given more credit for.
The role of the media in criminal investigation
The media interest in serious crimes. The press interest lies in what interests the public and crime and grave danger causes a serious imbalance in the psychological state of mind of the people. The media plays an important role in aiding criminal investigation by keeping the identity of the victim discreet. More so, social media plays an even crucial role in guiding large scale masses into developing similar forms of opinion which invites the interest of the press and the public. Todd Piett is the chief product officer at Rave Mobile Safety and he writes about technology trends in public safety and enhanced 9-1-1. As the society moves into mainstream, people have accepted social media as a form of communication and at times rejected the same. According to a  survey conducted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police Center for Social Media, 88.1% of the 800 law enforcement agencies that responded utilize social media in some capacity.[11]Forensic analysis of social data is performed post the events occurrence. Naturally investigators are gravitated towards where the evidence lies and more often than not lies on platforms
ranging from Youtube to Twitter to Facebook. Although the victim themselves are aware to publish a photo or video of the incident online, various other spectator’s videos can be relied upon as evidence. Criminals have done the public and the police a favour by bragging and often even uploading pictures of their crime online which has only been a thread for investigators evidence. There is conclusive proof of the act of crime, intention and the completion of the said offence. Murder and offences related to physical injury can easily be scrutinised through photos and descriptions laid out by the offenders themselves.  The increasing amount of tech savvy gangs that use social media as an interface to both threaten victims as well as recruit more members into their gangs. This use of social media is often discreet and very “below the belt”. However, if the court were to take cognizance of these offences, it would significantly pull out a number of social media constructed gangs and pressure groups that are detrimental to the very socio, democratic set up of the country. The one drawback that can be inferred through such set up of social media chains is that if there is a threat of disclosure, tech savvy professionals can find a way to deactivate any usage of social media oriented activity immediately. Therefore, the ambit of social media investigation and forensic discovery is a new and evolving concept that requires speedy and efficient delivery of information from one user to another. The efforts currently underway by police in Vancouver, BC provide an excellent example of an investigation leveraging social media to identify those responsible for the 
Stanley Cup riots in 2011. The IRIT (Integrated Riot Investigation Team), comprised of members of eight different law enforcement agencies, has posted photographs of over 100 suspected rioters on its website, along with a simple electronic means for the public to identify a rioter.
Forensic Media Psychology in India
Forensic psychology is a growing field in the Indian legal system. The correlation of psychological and criminal subjects has led to immense growth in sectors of law, medicine, media, intellectual property and also various business markets. The Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) started Lie Detection Division in the year 1968 by appointing a Psychologist. The procedure laid down was quite simple. Truth and detection through lie detectors. As a consequence several other state forensic laboratories set up lie detection units in forensic set ups. The process of lie detection slowly came to a halt due to its gross violation of human rights and personal liberties. The courts suo motto took cognizance of the case while deciding whether the usage of lie detectors was essential in determining the truth of a particular situation through investigation. The quote below was laid down by a supreme court judge when the initial risk of lie detectors were made use of to determine the truth of a particular witness or defendants.
“In  important   crimes   wherein   no   direct  evidence  is  available   and  it  is   suspected  that witnesses/suspects are suppressing the truth, the investigating officer can avail the facility of  scientific techniques of interrogation of such persons through the lie detection, hypnosis, etc., at  the forensic science laboratory in their forensic psychology division and other scientific means available with them”.[12]
However, with time the growth of social media has led to several outbreaks of falsified information online. Not only is it a gross violation of public rights but it is also detrimental to the status of several common and eminent persons of the democratic republic. Social media has aided the Indian government not only in propagating several ideologies but also when introducing various public policy programmes but its relevance in the detection of truth in criminal investigation is still undiscovered territory. It is important
for the media to step in not only through its fundamental right of the press but also as common civilians raising their voices through aided platforms. The concept is evolving and rationalising human behaviour through media is time consuming considering there is such strong opposition to the voices of the people of India in itself.
Privacy concerns around social media
In the case of US V. Jones, a GPS tracker was installed without a warrant and monitored his movements for a period of 28 days. The supreme court in this decision observed that GPS tracking qualifies “search” under the fourth amendment of the constitution and therefore requires a warrant. In 2004, Jones was suspected of drug trafficking by the FBI and DC Police wherein the investigating officers used traditional methods of tracking that included GPS surveillance and wire-tapping. An initial warrant was given to search in the areas in Columbia only for ten days. However, the officers had used this tracking device outside the perimeters of Columbia on the eleventh day. This violated the court order of warrant to search the premises and person through GPS monitors.
Constitutional machineries have already added instant messaging, photos and videos as excruciating evidence however there are floating sites like twitter, Instagram and Facebook that contain vast amounts of personal data useful during the process of criminal trial and litigation. Still, the bulk of ethical guidance and legal authority is rooted in precedent based on antecedent technologies, which has little resemblance to the emerging social centres of cyberspace. No code or statute present guidelines or rules for regulation of such centres for defenceless criminal investigation and discovery. Social media is by far a conduit of communication and a storage facility of information. A safety net is the only solution for a boundaryless intermediary and this is possible only through stringent regulation and policy formation. The virtual social scape exists at right angles to the real mortar world and there seems to be no guide to even make the first move towards a structured internet space hub. The cyber network is one big global unit that is interconnected through signals and a significant amount of stories.
Theory of Informed Behaviour
The theory of informed behaviour is a psychological study of people and their responses to several stimuli in unfamiliar and familiar social circumstances. People are prepared for a certain amount of discomfort at the beginning but as and when the issues become more complex in nature it is this theory of informed behaviour which essentially means knowledge of a particular instance to be able to take it in a positive stride. For example, various psychologists use the example of a donut to be kept in front of students who are likely informed that there will be more donuts coming soon if that particular donut is not eaten within the next 20 minutes. This situation is very well informed in order to know how many kids response to the immediate sensory responses to the donut in front of them and how many are going to prioritise the future in order to receive a bonus of another donut.
Similarly, in case of social media, the theory of informed behaviour stands correctly in place when there is sufficient consensus among the people in order to believe a particular opinion to be true. This is not to dispute general facts however more subjective theme based responses, for instance, if there is a statement that projects a sentiment of all goat are sheep and more than 70 percent of the population believe it to be true, then the statement automatically becomes true as that is what has been communicated time and again through informed behaviour. The usage of Theoretical Domains Framework in depicting the development of this domain in order to advance the science of implementation research. The intervention was developed considering three main components: theory, evidence and practical issues. A complex implementation intervention was designed that aimed to improve acute low back pain management in primary care. We used the TDF to identify the barriers and enablers to the uptake of evidence into practice and to guide the choice of intervention components. These components were then combined into a cohesive intervention. The intervention was delivered via two facilitated interactive small group workshops. We also produced a DVD to distribute to all participants in the intervention group. We chose outcome measures in order to assess the mediating mechanisms of behaviour change.
In conclusion, a systematic framework is provided through the use of complex interventions that could be used by others in order to develop further complex interventions in research. While this framework should be iteratively adjusted and refined to suit other contexts and settings, the authors believe that the four-step process should be maintained as the primary framework to guide researchers through a comprehensive intervention development process[13].
Memory Manipulation
Until very recently, scientists and psychologists believed that memory retention was static and once stayed, stayed for a long time in the same format as it was once recalled. However, through further study it was told that the memory of person changes each time they recall a particular incident. There might not be varied differences however each chapter of the brain revisits and rephrases the entire sequence of the story in different fragments with different aspects to a similar plot line. Dr. Julia Shaw convinced 70 percent of participants in her study published last year they committed a crime they never actually committed. In her experiment she repeatedly fed falsified information allegedly from an acquaintance expanding the experience to include the committing of a crime. As the witness rethinks what they witnessed, their mind may start to mould their memory to better fit the expectations of the news report.
Civil and criminal litigation are often time bound in order to obtain absolute accuracy from witnesses who are present at the scene of the crime due to uncertainty of reliable judgements to be made by the courts of law when times of trial are prolonged unnecessarily. When lawsuits are filed decades after an injury, witness memory becomes unreliable. As witness testimony is often the most influential factor in a case, accuracy is of utmost importance.
Learn to think critically. Critical thinking is extremely essential specially for kids as they decide whether the messages available to them makes sense or not. It is the youth that know how to critically use information useful to them and further explore and expand through conscious thought on how to build upon those opinions.
Become a smart consumer of products and information. The credibility of a particular product or service is extremely essential and media literacy exposes the younger minds to think objectively whether a particular commodity is credible or not.  It also helps them determine the “persuasive intent” of advertising and resist the techniques marketers use to sell products.
Recognize point of view. Every creator has a perspective. Identifying an author’s point of view helps kids appreciate different perspectives. It also helps put information in the context of what they already know — or think they know.
Create media responsibly. Recognizing your own point of view, saying what you want to say how you want to say it, and understanding that your messages have an impact is key to effective communication.
Identify the role of media in our culture. From celebrity gossip to magazine covers to memes, media is telling us something, shaping our understanding of the world, and even compelling us to act or think in certain ways.
Therefore in conclusion, forensic media psychology is a growing field of law that requires undivided dedication and time in order to ensure accurate analysis and understanding of world events, economic and social tensions and global e commerce. Forensic media psychology is not yet understood by many but is offering tremendous growth in terms of research and professional employment as well. Psychological research has contributed to the legal system in refining interrogation and jury selection technique, popularisation of the use of psychological tests, raised awareness among law professionals and the general public concerning the various social and psychological influences on eyewitness memory and jury decisions. Specialties such as broadcasting, publishing, politics and public policy, commerce, entertainment and health care offer professional opportunities for those with unique experience and knowledge. With the proliferation and saturation of media into every culture, forensic media psychology can be a pervasive specialty of increasing significance across many fields, providing new careers and professional opportunity. Society for Media Psychology and Technology seeks to advance psychology in the practice and science of media communications and technology. The society is a community of researchers, psychologists and other mental health providers, consultants, educators and communications professionals actively involved with all forms of traditional and evolving media and emerging technologies. The society supports the study and dissemination of information related to the impact of the media on human behaviour, as well as the development of media literacy essential to the public and profession.

[1] Bernard. J. Luskin; Finding the Truth Through Forensic Media Psychology.
[2]Vitriol, J. (2008). The Reality of Forensic Psychology. Observer, 21(3). Retrieved.
[3] Oxford University Press, 2006.
[4] Vitriol, J. (2008). The Reality of Forensic Psychology. Observer, 21(3). Retrieved.
[5]Cherry, Kendra. A brief History of Forensic Psychology.
[6] Hugo Münsterberg. On the Witness Stand: Essays on Psychology and Crime
[7] 347 U.S. 483 (1954).
[8] 307 F.2d 637
[9] Oxford University Press, 2006.
[10] 497 So.2d 1209, Fla. Supreme Court (1986)

[11] How Law Enforcement Uses Social Media for Forensic Investigation

[12] Home departments letter number, GPM-1092-1041-B, dated 15/9/92

[13] Developing theory-informed behaviour change interventions to implement evidence into practice: a systematic approach using the Theoretical Domains Framework

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