Previous research has examined the influence of courses on attitude change, and some has established that Psychology and Law courses may increase cynicism toward the legal system. Two other bodies of literature have examined the separate influence of major of study and political attitudes on legal attitudes, and found that criminology majors and political conservatives tend to be more punitive. The current research sought to determine the relationships among the majors of study, political orientation, and attitudes toward the legal system, as well as the effect of course presentation style on attitude change in psychology and law courses. A criminology class, psychology and law class, modified psychology and law class, and introduction to psychology class were questioned about attitudes toward the legal system at the beginning and the end of the course. Results demonstrated that major of study and political orientation were related to legal attitudes, and that modifying the presentation of psychology and law courses may reduce the cynicism effect.

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Keywords attitudes toward the insanity defense, attitudes toward the legal system, attitudinal differences, major of study, political affiliation
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Journal Criminal Justice Studies
Maeder, E.M, & Laub, C.E. (Cindy E.). (2012). Changing minds: The effect of course and teaching approach on attitudes toward the legal system. Criminal Justice Studies, 25(1), 17–31. doi:10.1080/1478601X.2012.657900