In many areas of the justice system, the law makes assumptions about human behaviour. These include standards for the mental competence of individuals to stand trial, the ability of jurors to understand the law, consistency in sentencing, and the accuracy of witness testimony. Where these assumptions are wrong, the consequences can be extremely serious and lead to unjust outcomes. Psychological research can be used to examine these assumptions and determine approaches to bring the law in line with a realistic understanding of human psychology. 

Our research on psychology and legal processes focuses on: 

  • The operation and effectiveness of specialist courts 
  • People’s perceptions of the fairness of the justice system 
  • Juror and judicial decision making 
  • Eyewitness’ memories for events and people.

Current and recent projects 

  • Evaluation of the specialist family violence court and family violence reforms 
  • Evaluation of group conferencing in the children’s court on reducing youth offending 
  • Examining jury comprehension of judicial instructions 
  • Effectiveness of judicial supervision of perpetrators in mainstream courts. 

Research stream leaders 

Recent publications 

Blake, G.A., Ogloff, J. R. P. & Chen, W. S. (2019). Meta-analysis of second generation competency to stand trial assessment measures: Preliminary findings.  International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 64, 238-249. 

Clough, J., Spivak, B., Ogloff, J. R. P., Ruffles, J., Goodman-Delahunty, J., & Young, W. (2019). The Jury Project 10 Years On – Practices of Australian and New Zealand Judges.  Melbourne, Australia: Australian Institute of Judicial Administration 

Spivak, B., Ogloff, J. R. P., Clough, J., Tinsley, Y., & Young, W. (2020). The impact of fact-based instructions on juror application of the law: Results from a trans-Tasman field study. Social Science Quarterly, 101 (1), 346-361. 

Spivak, B., Ogloff, J.R.P., & Clough, J. (2019). Asking the right questions: Examining the efficacy of fact-based instructions as a method of improving lay comprehension and application of legal concepts. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 26 (3), 441-456 

Clough, J., Spivak, B., Ogloff, J. R. P., Tinsley, Y., & Young, W. (2018). The judge as cartographer and guide: The role of fact-based directions in improving juror comprehension. Criminal Law Review, 42, 278 -294. 

Ogloff, J. R. P., Ruffles, J., & Sullivan, D. (2018). Addressing Needs and Strengthening Services: Review of the Queensland Forensic Disability Service System. Brisbane, QLD: Department of Health and the Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors. 

Explore our other research programs

Contact the Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science

There are many ways to engage with us. Whether you’re a student, from the media or an organisation interested in our professional development and training programs or consulting services, contact us on +61 3 9214 3887 or via

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