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Forensic clinical research

Research Studies

Mental Health Court

law book & gavelThe mental health court (MHC) team is working to prove the efficacy of Brevard County's Mental Health Court system. In many areas mentally ill people that commit crimes are sent to jail and receive minimal treatment for their illness while in custody. After their release, they are often arrested for another crime. The MHC provides an alternative to the typical punitive system and gives these offenders the option of getting treatment rather than going to jail. Its goal is to give these offenders access to the treatment they need in order to prevent future offenses. Our research examined the criminal histories of MHC participants both prior to and after receiving treatment through the MHC system. The research demonstrated that the MHC system lowers recidivism rates among mentally ill offenders in Brevard County, regardless of their prior criminal behavior.

Click here to review all research published on this data.

Costopoulos & Wellman (2017)

Inmate Attachment

noir jail hands

Incarcerated rapists and murderers were asked to complete measures of their defense mechanisms and attachment styles. It is hypothesized that degree of intimacy of the crime, relationship to the victim, and weapon used will relate to specific defense mechanisms and attachment styles. Preliminary results were presented at the annual School of Psychology Research Colloquium.



Testing For Memory Malingering

This study furthered the normative data by including elderly samples for multiple diagnoses and differentiating a number of typologies of dementia, recognizing the differences in presentation and impact of different cognitive disorders. Researchers, in cooperation with a multidisciplinary team determined diagnoses and found that specific diagnoses were at risk of being identified as malingering cognitive impairment in frequently used forensic measure. This study found specificity to be impacted for the participants with mood disorders, Alzheimer’s dementia and other dementia disorders. These scores were not able to be predicted by other neuropsychological measures. It is important to consider this sample when determining the efficacy of the TOMM in differentiating malingerers from non-malingerers in an elderly cognitively impaired population.

Jail Re-Entry

The Jail Re-entry Project examines the impact of providing released inmates with community resources on their likelihood of committing future crimes. We have collaborated with the Brevard County Jail Complex, the Florida State Attorney's Office, and the Florida Department of Children and Families to gather our data on the impact of a re-entry supprt program. We hope to impact the types and amounts of resources given to released inmates in Florida. The published findings indicate that older, African American men benefitted the most from these resources. By providing this research, we hope to help our community become a safer place by helping to find ways to reduce crime rates.

Assaults In Inpatient Psychiatric Facilities

This dataset is comprised of physical assaults committed by inpatients at a psychiatric hospital over eight years. The impact of diagnoses, commitment status, and severity of crime were examined for significant differences among the rate of assaults committed by individuals. Combinations of commitment status with specific diagnoses were noted to have a particularly high rate of assaults. The results indicate empirically demonstrated factors that influence assault and can be targeted to improve the quality of assessment and management of risk in patients.

Culture And Academic Dishonesty

 The purpose of this study is to identify the pressures influencing students from different cultures to academically cheat while in United States higher education. In cooperation with a professor in Saudi Arabia, a survey was developed and administered regarding pressure from peers and family, experience with teaching styles, and concerns about future goals. Participants included Saudi Arabians studying in the U.S., Saudi Arabians studying in their home country, and U.S. citizens studying in the U.S. Influences from peers and family differed between the samples. It is recommended that academic institutions use the strong peer and family influences in these populations to promote academic integrity.

Psychopathy, Memory, And Cognition

inmate handsDr. Costopoulos leads a graduate level research team, which focuses on the most widely used psychopathy measure, the Hare Psychopathy Checklist (PCL-R).  Current research is exploring the relationship between psychopathic domains and academic behaviors, intelligence, and memory.  Beyond furthering the field of forensic psychology through research, the doctoral students are given the opportunity to engage in psychological assessment to foster their clinical interviewing skills, the following of standardized protocols, and scoring of psychological tests.




Math Anxiety Study

math stress

The Math Anxiety study is researching the correlation between academic performance and reported math anxiety. Math anxiety is frequently experienced by college students and may impede their academic success, therefore this study would like to assess these symptoms and perhaps identify contributing factors. In this study, participants complete questionnaires regarding their behavior and symptoms in an effort to measure math performance and their trait math anxiety. Preliminary findings of this study have been reported at the American Psychological Association's Annual Convention (2012) and data collection is still in progress.




Click here to review publications based on these studies.