At the intersection
of law and psychology
Margaret Bull Kovera plans to commission papers
that have the potential to influence public policy.
BY REBECCA A. CLAY
The new editor of Law and Human Behavior, the journal of APA’s Div. 41 (American Psychology-Law Society)
is interested in research on the intersection of
law and behavior, no matter who produces it.
The journal features research from
such fields as criminal justice, sociology,
psychiatry, political science, education and
communication as well as law and psychology.
“What we really look for is the best
research in psychology and law on any topic,”
says Margaret Bull Kovera, PhD, a past
president of Div. 41 and psychology professor
at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the
City University of New York. “We’re less concerned about which
disciplines are contributing.”
As editor in chief, Kovera — who has served as associate
editor for the last six years — plans to continue the journal’s
tradition of commissioning special scientific review papers with
the aim of influencing public policy.
Unlike the regular articles the journal publishes, these papers
originate with the editor and Div. 41’s executive board, who
identify both topics and authors. The manuscripts are posted
for public comment, presented at psychology meetings, revised
and posted for another round of public comment before they
even begin the regular peer review process. The journal has
published two such papers in the past, one on best practices in
eyewitness identification situations and another that offered
recommendations for interrogating suspects in ways that help
prevent false confessions.
“Those two articles have been very influential, both research-
wise and in practice,” says Kovera, adding that
they also helped raise the journal’s profile.
“There are other areas ripe for that.” Possible
topics include gay parenting, the effects of pre-
trial publicity on jurors and the best way to
deal with juvenile offenders.