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Behav Sci Law. 2013 Mar-Apr;31(2):192-202. doi: 10.1002/bsl.2042. Epub 2012 Nov 27.

Empathy in forensic evaluations: a systematic reconsideration.

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Department of Psychology, The University of Alabama, Box 870348, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0348, USA.


This paper reexamines the Shuman seminal paper arguing against empathic behaviors in forensic evaluations. Shuman concluded that empathy by examiners seduces evaluees into believing a therapeutic relationship exists. We reconsider empathy as an element of rapport and a helpful supplement in a successful assessment. Actively avoiding empathy could lead to cold and callous examiner self-presentation, which may in turn produce biased and negative results. In this paper we assert that ethical forensic professionals may use moderate empathy during an assessment. Examiners should consider it not as a component of subjectivity and pseudotherapy, but rather as a potentially useful tool for effective assessments.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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