Public Policy Center, University of Nebraska


Date of this Version



Published in Psychology, Public Policy, and Law 20 :2 (2014), pp. 200-211; doi: 10.1037/a0035824


Copyright © 2014 American Psychological Association. Used by permission.


We integrate multiple domains of psychological science to identify, better understand, and manage the effects of subtle but powerful biases in forensic mental health assessment. This topic is ripe for discussion, as research evidence that challenges our objectivity and credibility garners increased attention both within and outside of psychology. We begin by defining bias and provide rich examples from the judgment and decision-making literature as they might apply to forensic assessment tasks. The cognitive biases we review can help us explain common problems in interpretation and judgment that confront forensic examiners. This leads us to ask (and attempt to answer) how we might use what we know about bias in forensic clinicians’ judgment to reduce its negative effects.