Public Policy Center, University of Nebraska


Date of this Version



Published in Legal and Criminological Psychology 19 (2014), pp. 19–29; doi: 10.1111/lcrp.12038


Copyright © 2013 The British Psychological Society; published by John Wiley & Sons Inc. Used by permission


The ethics of forensic professionalism is often couched in terms of competing individual and societal values. Indeed, the welfare of individuals is often secondary to the requirements of society, especially given the public nature of courts of law, forensic hospitals, jails, and prisons. We explore the weaknesses of this dichotomous approach to forensic ethics, offering an analysis of Psychology’s historical narrative especially relevant to the national security and correctional settings. We contend that a richer, more robust ethical analysis is available if practitioners consider the multiple perspectives in the forensic encounter, and acknowledge the multiple influences of personal, professional, and social values. The setting, context, or role is not sufficient to determine the ethics of forensic practice.