The Evolution of Forensic Psychology: From Expert Witnesses to a Well-Established Discipline

When was forensic psychology first observed as a practice in the field of psychology?

Compared with other psychological fields, forensic psychology is rather young: in the late 19th century, the first examples of forensic psychology could be seen across Western Europe and the U.S. pertaining to implications in the legal system.

Forensic psychology can be traced back to the early 20th century when psychologists and psychiatrists began to play a role in court cases as expert witnesses. The first recorded example of forensic psychology being used in a court case dates back to 1901 when psychologist Albert Von Schrenck-Notzing testified in a German trial. However, it was not until the 1940s and 1950s that forensic psychology began to be recognized as a distinct field of study. During this time, pioneers such as Hugo Munsterberg and William Marston were instrumental in laying the foundations of forensic psychology and establishing its importance in the justice system. Today, forensic psychology is a well-established discipline that encompasses a range of subspecialties, including criminal profiling, eyewitness testimony, and the assessment and treatment of criminal offenders.

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