1st Edition

Social Psychology in Forensic Practice

Edited By Joel Harvey, Derval Ambrose Copyright 2023
    272 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    272 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book explores how different social psychology theories and concepts can be applied to practice. Considering theories from attribution theory to coercion theory, social identity theories to ostracism, the authors offer a greater understanding and appreciation of the ways in which social psychology can contribute to forensic practice.

    The book argues that social psychology is useful for carrying out assessments (including risk assessments), formulations, and interventions with clients in forensic settings, as well as for psychological consultation, training, and the development of services. These theories are also important when understanding multi-disciplinary and multi-agency working, staff–client relationships, and peer-to-peer relationships. Through illustrative composite case examples, taken from the authors’ experiences in forensic settings, the chapters demonstrate effective ways to pursue a theoretically informed practice.

    Exploring a broad range of theories and a timely topic, Social Psychology in Forensic Practice will interest a wide readership including graduate and undergraduate students and researchers in criminology, sociology, and forensic, social and clinical psychology. It will also be of practical use to health professionals and non-health professionals working in forensic settings as well as policy makers and others commissioning forensic services.


    Rosie Meek

    1. Introduction

    Joel Harvey and Derval Ambrose

    2. Attributions and Biases

    Laura Bowden, Emily Glorney, and Emily Durber

    3. Social Identity Theories

    Deborah Morris and Elanor Webb

    4. Impression Management

    Joel Harvey and Deborah H. Drake

    5. Attitudes and Beliefs

    Lara Arsuffi

    6. Aggression

    Matt Bruce and Veronica Rosenberger

    7. Group Formation and Behaviour

    Derval Ambrose and Tania Tancred

    8. Coercion and Social Influence

    Vyv Huddy and Timothy A. Carey

    9. Ostracism

    Dennis Kaip and Joel Harvey

    10. Stereotyping and Prejudice

    Derval Ambrose, Colin Campbell and Dennis Kaip


    Joel Harvey is a senior lecturer in forensic psychology at the Department of Law and Criminology, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK. He holds a PhD in criminology from the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge, and a doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Manchester. He has previously published Young Men in Prison: Surviving and Adapting to Life Inside (2007/2012), and co-edited Psychological Therapy in Prisons and Other Secure Settings (2010) and Young People in Forensic Mental Health Settings: Psychological Thinking and Practice (2015).

    Derval Ambrose is a Consultant Forensic Psychologist and the lead psychologist for the Offender Personality Disorder service in South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. She has worked and held leaderships posts across several organisations, including the National Health Service, HM Prison Service, London Probation Service, the National Offender Management Service and the third sector. Additionally, she is an Honorary Visiting Associate at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London, UK.

    "This is an excellent and timely review of the pertinent research related to social psychology and forensic practice. The writing is impeccable and engaging, the examples vivid, and the implications profound. The authors have gone beyond the boundaries that most books on this topic cover, making it truly unique, generative, and worth having on your bookshelf."

    Kipling D. Williams, Distinguished Professor, Department of Psychological Sciences, Purdue University, USA

    "This gem of a text invites us to shine a light through the many layers of complexity in forensic practice, providing exciting new social psychological perspectives on critical issues: power, attribution, ostracism, impression management, to name a few. From time to time, the unique world of forensic services feels like a turbulent, risk-saturated tinderbox, an imbalanced and imperfect world where the majority are typically related to as less powerful than the minority who hold the keys. This volume provides a much-needed demonstration, brought to life with case material throughout, of how to extend the relational, more culturally competent tool-kit for forensic practitioners; to shift shared understandings and consequent dialogues more robustly in the direction of change where it is needed most."

    Estelle Moore, Associate Professor of Forensic Psychology, Clinical & Forensic Psychologist, Head of High Secure Psychological Services, Broadmoor Hospital, UK