This self-paced online training program is presented by Dr. Itiel Dror and focuses on Minimizing bias in Forensic Decision Making. The program covers brain and cognitive issues relating to bias and cognitive processing, and then connects the cognitive science issues to practical and specific issues in forensic decision making. In addition to knowledge about the cognitive factors in forensic decision making, the program also provides practical solutions to address weaknesses as well as best practices to enhance forensic practices.
Specific application to forensic mental health evaluation is provided through engaging discussions between Dr. Dror and Dr. Patricia Zapf, a forensic psychologist and expert in best practices in forensic mental health evaluation. In addition, Dr. Zapf provides elaboration on how the factors discussed by Dr. Dror are applicable to forensic mental health evaluation.
Conducting forensic examinations is similar to other expert domains that require perception and interpretation of information, such as in the military, medical, and financial domains. Even in everyday life humans constantly process information. Information is perceived, encoded, represented, transformed, stored, retrieved, compared to other information, evaluated and assessed, to name just a few cognitive processes. The human mind is not a camera, as we actively process and compare information. It is naive to think that we passively construct and experience reality, and perceive the environment as ‘it really is’.
We engage in a variety of cognitive processes that organize and structure the information as it comes in from the external world. Information is then further interpreted and processed in ways that highly depend on the human mind and cognitive factors. As we dynamically process information, we affect what we see, how we interpret and evaluate it, and our decision making process. Thus, to enhance expert performance and understand that different factors may affect their work, especially in a highly specialized domain such as forensics, one needs to take into account the role of the human mind and cognitive factors (Dror, 2015).
Although training is provided to forensic experts, there is a lack of training in psychological and cognitive elements involved in forensic decision making. Thus, there is a lack of systematic training and professional development in the influence of human cognition on forensic work and this workshop is a step towards addressing training in the cognitive factors involved in forensic decision making.
This training program is aimed at forensic evaluators, including psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, counselors, and other mental health professionals who engage in evaluations where decisions and opinions are required for a forensic context. This training program is appropriate for beginner, intermediate, and advanced level clinicians.