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Tess Neal Collection


Tess Neal is an Assistant Professor of Psychology in the ASU New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences and is a founding faculty member of the Program on Law and Behavioral Science. Dr. Neal has published one edited book and more than two dozen peer-reviewed publications in such journals as PLOS ONE; Psychology, Public Policy, and Law; and Criminal Justice and Behavior.

Neal is the recipient of the 2016 Saleem Shah Award for Early Career Excellence in Psychology and Law, co-awarded by the American Psychology-Law Society and the American Academy of Forensic Psychology. She was named a 2016 "Rising Star" by the Association for Psychological Science, a designation that recognizes outstanding psychological scientists in the earliest stages of their research career post-PhD "whose innovative work has already advanced the field and signals great potential for their continued contributions." She directs the ASU Clinical and Legal Judgment Lab.


Date Range
2008 2018


We used archival data to examine the predictive validity of a pre-release violence risk assessment battery over six years at a forensic hospital (N=230, 100% male, 63.0% African-American, 34.3% Caucasian). Examining “real world” forensic decision-making is important for illuminating potential areas for improvement. The battery included the Historical-Clinical-Risk Management-20, Psychopathy Checklist-Revised, Schedule of Imagined Violence, and Novaco Anger Scale and Provocation Inventory. Three outcome “recidivism” variables included contact violence, contact & threatened violence, and any reason for hospital return. Results indicated measures of general violence risk and psychopathy were highly correlated but weakly associated with reports of imagined violence and ...

Contributors
Neal, Tess M.S., Miller, Sarah L., Shealy, R. Clayton
Created Date
2015-03-13

This study examined a knowledge-centered theory of institutional trust development. In the context of trust in water regulatory institutions, the moderating impact of knowledge was tested to determine if there were longitudinal changes in the bases of institutional trust as a function of increases in knowledge about a target institution. We hypothesized that as people learn about an institution with which they were previously unfamiliar, they begin to form more nuanced perceptions, distinguishing the new institution from other institutions and relying less upon their generalized trust to estimate their trust in that institution. Prior to having specific, differential information about ...

Contributors
PytlikZillig, Lisa M., Kimbrough, Christopher D., Shockley, Ellie, et al.
Created Date
2017-04-17

Prompted by the involvement of psychologists in torturous interrogations at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, the American Psychological Association (APA) revised its Ethics Code Standard 1.02 to prohibit psychologists from engaging in activities that would “justify or defend violating human rights.” The revision to Standard 1.02 followed APA policy statements condemning torture and prohibiting psychologists’ involvement in such activities that constitute a violation of human rights (APA, 2010). Cogent questions have subsequently been raised about the involvement of psychologists in other activities that could arguably lead to human rights violations, even if the activity in question is legal. While this language ...

Contributors
Brodsky, Stanley L., Neal, Tess M.S., Jones, Michelle A.
Created Date
2013

This survey of 206 forensic psychologists tested the “filtering” effects of preexisting expert attitudes in adversarial proceedings. Results confirmed the hypothesis that evaluator attitudes toward capital punishment influence willingness to accept capital case referrals from particular adversarial parties. Stronger death penalty opposition was associated with higher willingness to conduct evaluations for the defense and higher likelihood of rejecting referrals from all sources Conversely, stronger support was associated with higher willingness to be involved in capital cases generally, regardless of referral source. The findings raise the specter of skewed evaluator involvement in capital evaluations, where evaluators willing to do capital casework ...

Contributors
Neal, Tess M.S.
Created Date
2016-04-28

We conducted an international survey in which forensic examiners who were members of professional associations described their two most recent forensic evaluations (N=434 experts, 868 cases), focusing on the use of structured assessment tools to aid expert judgment. This study describes: (a) the relative frequency of various forensic referrals, (b) what tools are used globally, (c) frequency and type of structured tools used, and (d) practitioners’ rationales for using/not using tools. We provide general descriptive information for various referrals. We found most evaluations used tools (74.2%) and used several (on average 4). We noted the extreme variety in tools used ...

Contributors
Neal, Tess M.S., Grisso, Thomas
Created Date
2014-09-25

Prisoners sentenced to death must be competent for execution before they can actually be executed (Ford v. Wainwright, 1986). The decision for many mental health professionals whether to conduct competence for execution evaluations may be fraught with complex ethical issues. Mental health professionals who do not personally support capital punishment may have a particularly difficult decision to make in this regard but should seriously consider the consequences of their decisions. This article applies Bush, Connell, and Denney’s (2006) eight-step ethical decision-making model to the ethicality of deciding to or abstaining from conducting competence for execution evaluations. This article does not ...

Contributors
Neal, Tess M.S.
Created Date
2010

This study sought to identify stigma differences between HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Interviewees from Alabama, USA (n=537) rated two types of stigma (damage to social reputation and “moral weakness”) for seven infections ranging from “nuisance” conditions (e.g., pubic lice) to life-threatening disease (e.g., HIV/AIDS). When asked which of the seven STIs would be most damaging to reputation, 74.8% of respondents chose HIV/AIDS. However, when asked to choose which STI represented moral weakness in infected persons, HIV/AIDS was rated as significantly lower than the other STIs, which suggests that HIV/AIDS is perceived differently than non-HIV STIs. This study ...

Contributors
Neal, Tess M.S., Lichtenstein, Bronwen, Brodsky, Stanley L.
Created Date
2010

This study sought to investigate the relation between expert witness likeability and juror judgments of credibility and sentencing. Two actors playing expert witnesses were trained to present themselves as high and low in likeability in a standard testimony scenario involving capital trial sentencing. The effects of extraversion and gender in mock jurors in attending to expert testimony were also examined. The dependent variables were the perceptions of the witnesses’ credibility and agreement with testimony and the participants were 210 psychology undergraduates. Likeability of expert witnesses was found to be significantly related to judgments of trustworthiness of the experts, but not ...

Contributors
Brodsky, Stanley L., Neal, Tess M.S., Cramer, Robert J., et al.
Created Date
2009

The knowledge of experts presumably affects their credibility and the degree to which the trier of fact will agree with them. However, specific effects of demonstrated knowledge are largely unknown. This experiment manipulated a forensic expert’s level of knowledge in a mock trial paradigm. We tested the relation between low versus high expert knowledge on mock juror perceptions of expert credibility, on agreement with the expert, and on sentencing. We also tested expert gender as a potential moderator. Knowledge effects were statistically significant; however, these differences carried little practical utility in predicting mock jurors’ ultimate decisions. Contrary to hypotheses that ...

Contributors
Parrott, Caroline Titcomb, Neal, Tess M.S., Wilson, Jennifer K., et al.
Created Date
2015-03

This project began as an attempt to develop systematic, measurable indicators of bias in written forensic mental health evaluations focused on the issue of insanity. Although forensic clinicians observed in this study did vary systematically in their report-writing behaviors on several of the indicators of interest, the data are most useful in demonstrating how and why bias is hard to ferret out. Naturalistic data was used in this project (i.e., 122 real forensic insanity reports), which in some ways is a strength. However, given the nature of bias and the problem of inferring whether a particular judgment is biased, naturalistic ...

Contributors
Neal, Tess M.S.
Created Date
2018-04-19

The 64-item Hare Self-Report Psychopathy Scale (Hare SRP; Paulhus, Neumann, & Hare, in press) is the most recent revision of the SRP, which has undergone numerous iterations. Little research has been conducted with this new edition; therefore, the goal of the current study was to elucidate the factor structure as well as the criterion-related, convergent, and discriminant validity of the measure in a large sample of college students (N=602). Confirmatory factor analyses revealed that the best-fitting model was the original four-factor model proposed by the authors of the Hare SRP (compared to a one-factor, two-factor, and four-factor random model). The ...

Contributors
Neal, Tess M.S., Sellbom, Martin
Created Date
2012

The effect of eye contact on credibility was examined via a 3 (low, medium, high eye contact) x 2 (male, female) between-groups design with 232 undergraduate participants. A trial transcript excerpt about a defendant’s recidivism likelihood was utilized as the experts’ script. A main effect was found: experts with high eye contact had higher credibility ratings than in the medium and low conditions. Although a confound precluded comparisons between the genders, results indicated that males with high eye contact were more credible than males with medium or low eye contact. The female experts’ credibility wasn’t significantly different regardless of eye ...

Contributors
Neal, Tess M.S., Brodsky, Stanley L.
Created Date
2008

A qualitative study with 20 board-certified forensic psychologists was followed up by a mail survey of 351 forensic psychologists in this mixed-methods investigation of examiner bias awareness and strategies used to debias forensic judgments. Rich qualitative data emerged about awareness of bias, specific biasing situations that recur in forensic evaluations, and potential debiasing strategies. The continuum of bias awareness in forensic evaluators mapped cogently onto the “stages of change” model. Evaluators perceived themselves as less vulnerable to bias than their colleagues, consistent with the phenomenon called the “bias blind spot.” Recurring situations that posed challenges for forensic clinicians included disliking ...

Contributors
Neal, Tess M.S., Brodsky, Stanley L.
Created Date
2016-02

Since its debut over a century ago, forensic psychology has matured into a formally recognized specialty area of psychology with its own set of ethical guidelines; however, a consensual definition of forensic psychology remains elusive. After describing the field’s historical and current struggles to define itself, two ethical issues are discussed that are especially applicable to psychology in legal contexts. The first is the critical differences between serving in therapeutic versus forensic roles and the associated ethical obligation to refrain from serving in both roles in the same case. Despite the terminology used in the literature, treatment in forensic contexts ...

Contributors
Neal, Tess M.S.
Created Date
2017

The purpose of this volume is to consider how trust research, particularly trust in institutions, might benefit from increased inter- or transdisciplinarity. In this introductory chapter, we first give some background on prior disciplinary, multidisciplinary, and interdisciplinary work relating to trust. Next, we describe how this many-disciplined volume on institutional trust emerged from the joint activities of the Nebraska Symposium on Motivation and a National Science Foundation-funded Workshop on institutional trust. This chapter describes some of the themes that emerged, while also providing an overview of the rest of the volume, which includes chapters that discuss conceptualizations, definitions, and measurement ...

Contributors
Neal, Tess M.S., PytlikZillig, Lisa M., Shockley, Ellie, et al.
Created Date
2016

The current study used the Trauma Symptom Checklist-40 (TSC-40) to index both childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and childhood physical abuse (CPA) in a college student sample of both men and women (N = 441). Although the TSC-40 was designed as a measure of CSA trauma, this study concludes the measure is appropriately reliable for indexing the traumatic sequelae of CPA as well as CSA in nonclinical samples. The current study also explored the effects of gender and abuse severity on resulting symptomatology, finding that women and severely abused individuals report the most negative sequelae. Both CSA and CPA emerged as ...

Contributors
Neal, Tess M.S., Nagle, Jacklyn E.
Created Date
2013

This study examined the scope and components of mitigation assessments in a first effort to develop some guidelines for conducting mitigation evaluations. Using the Mitigation Evaluations Survey (MES) we developed for this research, we surveyed 266 psychologists about the characteristics and content of mitigation evaluations. A high percentage of participants endorsed each of the 14 content areas presented in the MES as essential or recommended for inclusion in mitigation evaluations. However, when the participants were given a hypothetical open-ended referral question regarding a mitigation evaluation, fewer participants included all 14 content areas in their responses. This discrepancy as well as ...

Contributors
Barnett, Michelle E., Brodsky, Stanley L., Neal, Tess M.S.
Created Date
2011

We investigated the role of moral disengagement in a legally‐relevant judgment in this theoretically‐driven empirical analysis. Moral disengagement is a social‐cognitive phenomenon through which people reason their way toward harming others, presenting a useful framework for investigating legal judgments that often result in harming individuals for the good of society. We tested the role of moral disengagement in forensic psychologists’ willingness to conduct the most ethically questionable clinical task in the criminal justice system: competence for execution evaluations. Our hypothesis that moral disengagement would function as mediator of participants’ existing attitudes and their judgments—a theoretical “bridge” between attitudes and judgments—was ...

Contributors
Neal, Tess M.S., Cramer, Robert J.
Created Date
2017-11-07

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 ...

Contributors
Candilis, Philip J., Neal, Tess M.S.
Created Date
2013-12-28

People who testify as expert witnesses in court are often fearful of blundering, feeling inept, and being “caught out” during cross-examinations. There are several reasons for lapses in professional demeanor and responses while testifying. We offer seven baits or temptations that can draw an expert into behaviors that are unbecoming, with examples of responses that are inappropriate and harmful. These seven bait and lures are accompanied by descriptions of how to handle them.

Contributors
Neal, Tess, Brodsky, Stanley, Dvoskin, Joel
Created Date
2017-12-01