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Admissibility of Expert Testimony

  1. David L. Shapiro

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0017

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Shapiro, D. L. 2010. Admissibility of Expert Testimony. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–3.

Author Information

  1. Nova Southeastern University

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


The first test for the admissibility of expert testimony occurred in 1923 in a case entitled Frye v. United States (293 F 1013, 1923). Although this case dealt with the admissibility of the polygraph in court, it has been used in a much wider context to decide the admissibility of any proffered or proposed expert testimony. It is described as a general acceptability theory. That is, if the theory, methodology, or conclusion that is being “proffered” or offered as expert testimony is “generally accepted” within the relevant scientific field, it is deemed to meet the criteria for acceptability. Reliability, in other words, is determined by general acceptability. One of the problems with the Frye standard is that it did not define what “generally acceptable” meant. Subsequent commentary by various legal scholars has described general acceptability as referring to acceptance by “a substantial majority of the relevant scientific discipline,” but once again the term “substantial majority” was not defined. In a similar manner, the “relevant scientific discipline” was not well-defined either.