An exploratory study of South African clinical psychologists' opinions of the insanity defence.
This quantitative exploratory study surveyed 64 South African clinical psychologists' opinions of the insanity defence. Clinical psychologists are increasingly becoming meaningful contributors to the judicial process in South Africa with regard to criminal incapacity. It is therefore considered important to canvas their opinions. To the author's knowledge this is the first research on psychologists' opinions of the defence in South Africa, possibly internationally. A standardized Likert scale developed by Skeem and Evans-DeCicco (2004) to gauge jury views on the insanity defence in the United States was used as the data collection tool. This research employed an overall correlational research design. Due to heterogenous variances the more liberal assumptions of non-parametric tests were used to extrapolate findings. The bulk of opinion rested in the moderate to ambivalent support ranges, with few strongly positive or negative opinions of the insanity defence. Significant results suggest that female psychologists, regardless of race, showed less support of the insanity defence than their male counterparts. Furthermore, those whose primary therapeutic orientation was psychodynamic had less support than those who practiced other modalities. However, a disappointingly small sample size and low reliability of the scale makes the generalisability of the results tentative, and thus further research is needed to verify these findings