In 2018 we have research projects on stalking legislation in Finland, stress, trauma, and wellbeing in the legal system, psychopathy and violent fantasies, sexual harasment and recognising deceit and trauma in court hearing. Besides these research projects, Helinä is working on an international study on Bruce Springsteen fanship and fandom.
By doing our research we wish to provide the courts and lawyers as well as the police information of various psychological issues to be used for their purposes. The two professional domains, psychology and law, are constantly overlapping. During it’s over 100 years marriage with psychology, law has increasingly recognised the experimental strides that psychology as a science has made and integrated many findings into the practise of law. Studies on e.g. eyewitness identification, memory, confession, stalking victimization, human development and attachment have been ingratiated into the practice of criminal and civil law. We aim to continue this work.
Research based of real-world knowledge of legal practice
Psychological information can be used, misused or nonused in law. Our research group benefits of the practical experience we have from working both at the Finnish police for over ten years as well as working at the psychology and law firm PsyJuridica Ltd for the past seven years. We feel that this experience has increased our understanding of the appropriateness of using psychology in the legal and forensic settings.
Our research is pursued in a way that will be maximally productive in advancing understanding of human behaviour in law-related activities and in ways most likely to convince lawmakers and legal practitioners to seek out and apply for the information. Psychology can’t ignore the law’s need and concerns if it wishes to be relevant to legal actors and implementers. For this reason, we conduct research with high ecological validity. Due to our networks, we have had a unique possibility to conduct research within the police during 2002-2011 and since than also within a law firm. This allows us to study law-related behaviours of legal and nonlegal actors in real life and real police investigations and trials instead of experimental simulations. For us, placing great thought to the external and ecological validity of our research starts from questioning why we study what we study.
Expanding research to new areas
Only a very limited number of law-related behaviours by legal and nonlegal actors have been studied among psychologists. Traditionally psycholegal researchers have focused on juror, jury, witness and judge behaviours. Given that psycholegal researchers study human behaviour in legal setting, it is rather ironic that attorney or prosecutor behaviour have rarely been studied, even though they have a major role in court proceedings and at a court hearing their behaviour is readily observable. We are interested in expanding our research into new areas within the legal system. We rake our research methods to the courtroom. Close collaboration with several legal actors helps us to avoid mistakes resulting from not understanding how different legal systems operate.