Friday, 1 April 2016

Forensic Psychology - Witness Investigation

Yesterday I had the great pleasure to take part in a Facebook chat with MOOC students on a Forensic Psychology course run by the Open University. It’s the second time I’ve taken part in this type of chat, answering questions on Forensic Psychology and how I use the topic in my novels.

The particpants’ questions are fascinating, and yesterday was no exception. The two hours of rapid typing passed in a flash. Questions ranged from ‘the criminal mind’ through how to structure a crime story. One in particular concerning writing a story went like this…’I have the beginning, I have the end, it’s the middle I can’t get.’ A problem faced by many writers.

We discussed eye witness testimonies, which are pretty unreliable. I could vouch for this personally, having witnessed a robbery a week ago in New Look on Princes Street in Edinburgh. Standing just inside the door, I realised the young man wasn’t rifling through the clothes in order to select something nice for a girlfriend, but rather was stuffing them inside his jacket. He then headed out to make his escape.

I remember his gender, his height (tall and skinny), and the fact that he was dressed all in black including a black hat. I remember he had a prominent nose. The thing that stuck in my head was the way he moved, agitated and awkward. I would not have been able to pick him out of a line up, despite being only a yard or so away from him when the robbery took place.

My own main reference book for Forensic Psychology, recommended by Dr Kathy Charles of Napier University, is Howitt’s Introduction to Forensic and Criminal Psychology. It is a fascinating read, which helped a great deal when I was writing The Reborn, which features the forensic study of a psychopath.

I would highly recommend the Open University Forensic Psychology MOOC.
The Open University are sponsors of
the Bloody Scotland crime writing festival.

About MOOCs
Massive Open Online Courses are free, high quality online courses created by leading universities, which anyone can access, anywhere in the world. They are designed for large numbers of learners.

The Reborn eBook is on special offer for only 99p during April 2016.

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