Tara L Mitchell
Lock Haven University
I am currently an Associate Professor in the Psychology Department at Lock Haven University. I received my Ph.D. in Legal Psychology from Florida International University's Legal Psychology program. As part of that program, I have been trained in basic cognitive and social psychology, and their applications to the legal system. I have studied a variety of topics, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the cross-race effect in eyewitness identifications, and racial bias. My primary research interest is the influence of race on the legal system, from both an eyewitness and a jury decision-making perspective. A second research interest deals with perceptions of disabilities and their influence on employment law decisions. My thesis research, under the supervision of Dr. Margaret Kovera, investigated the influence of attributions of responsibility and work history on reasonable accommodation decisions under the ADA. My dissertation, under the supervision of Dr. Christian Meissner, is investigating the influence of the cross-race effect on the lineup construction process, from generating a witness description of the perpetrator to assessments of the overall lineup fairness. A copy of my curriculum vitae can be downloaded here as an Adobe Acrobat file.
For more information on graduate training in psychology, please visit the Psychology Undergraduate Advising page.
I enjoy teaching a variety of courses in cognitive, social, legal, and industrial/organizational psychology. I have taught courses at both Florida International University and Lock Haven University. The courses I have taught include Introduction to Psychological Science, Forensic Psychology, Psychology of Personality, and Applying Research Methods in Psychology. I am also helping to develop courses in both gender and sexuality studies.
My research interests are varied, but center around social justice issues. As a graduate student, I developed programs of research that investigate the underlying cognitive mechanisms of the cross-race effect in eyewitness identifications; the influence of defendant race on jury decision-making, particularly taking into account the race of the juror, the type of crime, and judicial instructions; and the influence of stereotypes and attributions regarding individuals with disabilities on employment law decisions. I had the opportunity to collaborate with several individuals as part of my research during that time. They include: Dr. Ronald P Fisher, Dr. Ryann M. Leonard (formerly Haw), Dr. Kimberly MacLin, Dr. Christian Meissner, and Dr. Gary Wells.
At this time, I am focusing my research on broader social justice issues, such as discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual assault, although I still focus on these issues within the legal system.
For more information on conducting psycho-legal research in general, please visit the Psychology and the Law Research page.