The American Psychological Association defines forensic psychology as the application of clinical specialties to the legal system. This definition narrowly identifies forensic psychology as the application of clinical psychology to the forensic arena. However, a broad definition is also recognized to include experimentation and research in other areas of psychology (i.e. social psychology) to the forensic arena (Ward, n.d.). It is within this broad definition that the Forensic Clinical Research Team at Florida Tech operates.
Dr. Costopoulous’ team addresses a variety of psychological phenomenon and their role in legal arenas. Within psychological interventions, they are interested in therapeutic treatment approaches with violent offenders and the mentally ill, reduction of academic dishonesty through adaptive authority styles in the classroom, and integrated programs addressing violence in many environments. Theoretically, Dr. Costopoulos is interested in psychoanalytic understanding of the personality behind deviant behaviors and the internal processes that enable particularly aggressive crimes. The role of psychological factors in legal proceedings is apparent in competency and sanity statute. Another interest is the influence of legal status on behavior of the defendant and methods to assess aggravating/mitigating factors and risk for sentencing.
Undergraduate students have the opportunity to become involved in interesting studies such as these, learning more about the intricacies of forensic psychological research and practice, and also seeing first-hand how sophisticated research is conducted. Participation is available at an entry level (PSY2413) and would require 2-4 hours per week. Much work of the undergraduate student will be under the supervision of a doctoral level team captain. In addition, membership to the team will include the participation of the undergraduate student in monthly team meetings with Dr. Costopoulos, doctoral level captains, and fellow undergraduate volunteers.
For more information, please contact Dr. Costopoulos