Psychological Assessments in Forensic Settings

Tess M.S. Neal, Elizabeth Mathers, Jason R. Frizzell

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Psychologists are often asked to help judges, jurors, and other parties make decisions in legal cases when there are questions about a person's psychological capacities, current or past psychological functioning, or/or future behavioral likelihood. This article focuses on these types of cases, introducing a subfield of psychology called forensic psychology, which involves the application of psychological science or professional practice to the law to inform pending legal decisions (APA, 2013b; Neal, 2018). We introduce the basics of psychological assessments; address scenarios when the legal system may be interested in psychological assessment, including the most common forensic referral questions; and discuss ethics, including the unique features and dilemmas of working in legal contexts, such as the need to understand and address the problem of multiple roles and striving to reduce bias and error in our work. We cover typical processes involved in forensic assessment, from referral, to assessment processes, to report writing, to testifying. We conclude with limitations of psychological assessments in legal settings and future directions for research and practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationComprehensive Clinical Psychology, Second Edition
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9780128186978
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022


  • Assessment
  • Attorney
  • Court
  • Evaluation
  • Forensic
  • Jury
  • Law
  • Legal
  • Mental health
  • Psycholog
  • Psychometric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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