Forensic psychology
Forensic psychology

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Forensic psychology

Week 1: Introduction to eyewitness psychology


Crime dramas have become incredibly popular and many of us are used to seeing our favourite detectives cracking the case and arresting the criminal. In real life, cases are rarely straightforward, and there is often considerable uncertainty as to whether the person accused of the crime actually did it.

In this course, you will explore how psychological knowledge can be used to help prevent wrongful convictions and how it has helped obtain evidence from eyewitnesses. You will follow the investigation of an armed robbery, evaluate the evidence gathered and see if you can solve the case as well as the police did.

Watch the following video in which Graham Pike and Catriona Havard from The Open University introduce the course.

Download this video clip.Video player: ou_futurelearn_psychology_vid_1002.mp4
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Hello and welcome to the course. I'm Graham Pike, and I'm Professor of Forensic Cognition, here at The Open University. I'm one of the two guides for this course and we will be catching up with you at the start of each of the 8 weeks, to help put the course material in context, summarise where we've got to on our journey and understand the significance of what's coming up next.
If you're a fan of crime dramas, you may think it is forensics and crime labs that hold the key to solving crimes, but in real life, cases are rarely straight forward, there is often a high degree of uncertainty, and sometimes it is the verbal evidence from witnesses and victims which we have to rely upon the most.
I'm Catriona Havard and I'm a lecturer in Psychology, and I'm your other guide. Our goal on this course is to examine how psychological knowledge can be used to help prevent wrongful convictions and how the police can use psychology to obtain evidence from eyewitnesses. We'll be taking you behind the scenes of police investigation and putting ourselves in the shoes of the lead detectives, with a chance to evaluate the evidence and see if we can solve the case the same way as the police.
So welcome to week 1.
To begin with we'll learn about a real case of mistaken identity, which led to an innocent man being imprisoned.
We'll then see how well you know your own mind. We know that our memories are not always accurate, but how does our memory actually work? To test yours, you can answer the quiz. And we'll get our first glimpses of the crime and investigation we'll be following, as we'll meet the police, and witnesses that are involved.
Enjoy the journey. And we'll be back to catch up with you next week.
End transcript
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Please note that this course deals with the investigation of serious crimes, including hearing from a victim of rape, and you should give careful consideration to how these sensitive issues might affect you personally.

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