100% Original, Plagiarism Free, Tailored to your instructions

Order Now!

Criminal Justice and Behavior

Criminal Justice and Behavior
Project description
The case study will be split into two sections: 1000 words for Part A and 1000 words for B
Part A is a Visual Case Study, you have to login to my university student account to see the video
When you go to this link, the right hand side you will see “portal” click on it, then click “login to student portal”-id: ipn password: 1Kiki///
then, you will see on the right hand side “my moodle” in here you may have to longin again. after you long in click on M41 PY applying psychology then you will see Resit coursework Part A:Police:A complaint of rape.
Criminal Justice and Behavior
http://cjb.sagepub.com/ The Criminal Profiling Illusion : What’s Behind the Smoke and Mirrors?
Brent Snook, Richard M. Cullen, Craig Bennell, Paul J. Taylor and Paul Gendreau Criminal Justice and Behavior 2008 35: 1257 DOI: 10.1177/0093854808321528 The online version of this article can be found at: http://cjb.sagepub.com/content/35/10/1257
Published by:
On behalf of:
International Association for Correctional and Forensic Psychology
Additional services and information for Criminal Justice and Behavior can be found at: Email Alerts: http://cjb.sagepub.com/cgi/alerts Subscriptions: http://cjb.sagepub.com/subscriptions Reprints: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsReprints.nav Permissions: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav Citations: http://cjb.sagepub.com/content/35/10/1257.refs.html
>> Version of Record – Sep 4, 2008 What is This?
Downloaded from cjb.sagepub.com at COVENTRY UNIV PERIODICALS LIB on January 11, 2013
THE CRIMINAL PROFILING ILLUSION What’s Behind the Smoke and Mirrors?
Memorial University of Newfoundland
Carleton University
Lancaster University
University of New Brunswick–Saint John
There is a belief that criminal profilers can predict a criminal’s characteristics from crime scene evidence. In this article, the authors argue that this belief may be an illusion and explain how people may have been misled into believing that criminal profiling (CP) works despite no sound theoretical grounding and no strong empirical support for this possibility. Potentially responsible for this illusory belief is the information that people acquire about CP, which is heavily influenced by anecdotes, repetition of the message that profiling works, the expert profiler label, and a disproportionate emphasis on correct predictions. Also potentially responsible are aspects of information processing such as reasoning errors, creating meaning out of ambiguous information, imitating good ideas, and inferring fact from fiction. The authors conclude that CP should not be used as an investigative tool because it lacks scientific support. Keywords: criminal profiling; police investigations; belief formation; pseudoscience
riminal profiling (CP) is the practice of predicting a criminal’s personality, behavioral, and demographic characteristics based on crime scene evidence (Douglas, Ressler, Burgess, & Hartman, 1986; Hicks & Sales, 2006).1 This practice is being utilized by police agencies around the world despite no compelling scientific evidence that it is reliable, valid, or useful (Snook, Eastwood, Gendreau, Goggin, & Cullen, 2007). This disparity between the use and the lack of empirical support leads one to consider the question Why do people believe CP works despite the lack of evidence? We explain this criminal profiling illusion in terms of the nature of the information about CP that is presented to the people and how they process that information.
AUTHORS’ NOTE: We thank Inspector John C. House for his insightful comments on drafts of this article. Support for the research reported in this article was provided to the first author by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Brent Snook, Psychology Department, Science Building, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, NF A1B 3X9, Canada; e-mail: bsnook@play.psych.mun.ca.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND BEHAVIOR, Vol. 35 No. 10, October 2008 1257-1276 DOI: 10.1177/0093854808321528 © 2008 International Association for Correctional and Forensic Psychology
Downloaded from cjb.sagepub.com at COVENTRY UNIV PERIODICALS LIB on January 11, 2013
Our article is divided into five sections. First, we outline current knowledge of CP techniques, the frequency with which CP is used in criminal investigations, and the extent to which police officers and mental health professionals perceive CP as a valuable tool. Second, we argue that CP has no basis in scientific theory and has meager empirical support as an investigative tool. The third and fourth sections are devoted to a consideration of how the discrepancy may have arisen between the lack of evidence supporting CP practices and beliefs about its effectiveness. Specifically, in the third section, we discuss some of the ways that information about CP is distorted as it is conveyed. In the fourth section, we discuss some cognitive tendencies that are useful for learning and reasoning but appear to have led police officers, profilers, and the rest of us to form an illusory belief about CP. Fifth, we conclude by arguing that CP should not be used as an investigative tool until it receives adequate scientific support.
Constructing a profile of an unknown criminal typically involves three stages (Hicks & Sales, 2006; Homant & Kennedy, 1998). Police officers collect crime scene data (e.g., photographs, detective reports, and autopsy results). These data are then forwarded to a profiler who makes predictions about the personality, behavioral, and demographic characteristics of the likely criminal. These predictions are then reported to the investigating officers. In principle, CP differs little from what so-called psychic detectives allegedly do in helping law enforcement agencies catch criminals or find missing persons (see Lyons & Truzzi, 1991; Nickell, 1994; O’Keeffe & Alison, 2000; Wiseman, West, & Stemman, 1996). Although there are no standardized techniques for making these predictions, the different approaches to CP can be broadly classified as having a clinical or statistical orientation.2 Clinically oriented profilers draw on their training, knowledge, experience, and/or intuition to predict offender characteristics (e.g., Ault & Reese, 1980; Copson, Badcock, Boon, & Britton, 1997; Douglas & Munn, 1992; Holmes & Holmes, 1996; Keppel & Walter, 1999; Turvey, 1999; West, 2000). By contrast, statistically oriented predictions are derived from an analysis of offenders who have previously committed crimes that are judged as similar to those being investigated (e.g., Canter & Fritzon, 1998; Davies, Wittebrood, & Jackson, 1997; Farrington & Lambert, 1997; Jackson, van den Eshof, & de Kleuver, 1997; Keppel & Weis, 1993; Santilla, Häkkänen, Canter, & Elfgren, 2003). Published accounts testify to prolific growth in the utilization of CP techniques. For example, between 1971 and 1981, the FBI provided CP assistance on 192 occasions (Pinizzotto, 1984). A few years later, Douglas and Burgess (1986) indicated that FBI profilers were being asked to assist in 600 criminal investigations per year. A more recent account indicated that CP was applied by 12 FBI profilers in approximately 1,000 cases per year (Witkin, 1996). Police officers in the United Kingdom also appear to be incorporating CP into their investigations more frequently. Copson (1995), for instance, reported that 29 profilers were responsible for providing 242 instances of CP advice between 1981 and 1994, with the prevalence of CP increasing steadily during that period. Other professionals, such as police psychologists, are also becoming involved in CP (Bartol, 1996). Although we do not have exact estimates of CP prevalence elsewhere, its use has been documented in numerous countries, including Canada, Finland, Germany, Sweden, and the Netherlands (Åsgard, 1998; Clark, 2002; Jackson, Herbrink, & van Koppen, 1997).
Downloaded from cjb.sagepub.com at COVENTRY UNIV PERIODICALS LIB on January 11, 2013
As the prevalence of CP has increased, there has been a simultaneous increase in the volume of published literature addressing the practice. For example, in a recent quantitative review of 130 CP articles, it was found that the number of published CP articles has increased from 5 articles between 1976 and 1980, to 9 between 1981 and 1985, 10 between 1986 and 1990, 22 between 1991 and 1995, 56 between 1996 and 2000, 27 between 2001 and 2005, and 1 in 2006 (Snook, Eastwood, et al., 2007; see also Dowden, Bennell, & Bloomfield, 2007). Moreover, the authors of many of these articles promote CP as a useful investigative tool. The results of Snook, Eastwood, et al.’s (2007) examination accorded well with the views expressed by a significant number of police officers and mental health professionals. These views were identified from surveys about whether or not CP advice is valuable. In the earliest survey, Douglas (as cited in Pinizzotto, 1984) found that solving cases was attributed to CP advice in 46% of the 192 instances where FBI profiling was requested. Similarly, Jackson, van Koppen, and Herbrink (1993) found that five out of six surveyed police officers in the Netherlands reported some degree of usefulness for advice given by an FBI trained profiler. Likewise, Copson (1995) found that 82.6% of a sample of 184 police officers in the United Kingdom claimed that CP was operationally useful and 92.4% reported that they would seek CP advice again. Consistent with these results, Trager and Brewster (2001) showed that a significant portion of police officers in the United States believe that CP has value. Finally, Torres, Boccaccini, and Miller’s (2006) recent survey of 92 forensic mental health professionals indicated that 86% believe that CP is a useful law enforcement tool.
Having established that CP is in widespread use and that people generally believe that CP works, we now present a critical review of the CP literature. This review reveals the blunt reality that (a) most of the typologies used to create criminal profiles are in fact false typologies, (b) the majority of CP approaches are based on an outdated theory of personality that lacks empirical support, and (c) there is no compelling evidence that predictions made by professional profilers are significantly more accurate than those made by nonprofilers.
Current profiling practices typically involve some type of classification system, or typology, which is used to categorize both crime scene behaviors and offender background characteristics. By far the most routinely used typology is the FBI’s organized–disorganized dichotomy, which was developed from interviews with offenders (Ressler, Burgess, Douglas, Hartman, & D’Agostino, 1986). The assumptions underlying this typology are that (a) offenses can be categorized as organized (e.g., well planned) or disorganized (e.g., unplanned) based on the behaviors present at a crime scene, (b) offenders can be categorized as organized (e.g., high functioning) or disorganized (e.g., low functioning) based on the background characteristics of the offender, and (c) there is a correspondence between offenses and offenders (i.e., organized offenders commit organized crimes and disorganized offenders commit disorganized crimes). Although the organized–disorganized typology has been the driving force behind CP practices around the world for many years, it has only recently been the subject of
Downloaded from cjb.sagepub.com at COVENTRY UNIV PERIODICALS LIB on January 11, 2013
empirical scrutiny. Preliminary evaluations of this typology suggest that it does not match the variations in offender behavior. For example, Canter, Alison, Alison, and Wentink (2004) examined whether 100 murders committed by serial killers in the United States could be categorized as organized or disorganized. Using a multidimensional scaling procedure, they analyzed 39 crime scene behaviors that had been categorized as organized or disorganized in the FBI’s Crime Classification Manual (Douglas, Burgess, Burgess, & Ressler, 1992). In contrast to what would be predicted from the typology, the analysis did not reveal any distinct subsets of organized and disorganized behaviors, thus making it difficult to see how serial homicides may be categorized easily in this way. Similar findings have been reported for other popular classification systems (Canter & Wentink, 2004; Melnyk, Bloomfield, & Bennell, 2007). For example, Melnyk et al.’s (2007) examination of Keppel and Walter’s (1999) serial sexual homicide typology, which was borrowed from research on rape and refined on the basis of Keppel’s experiences as a homicide investigator, failed to find any evidence supporting the hypothesis that offenses or offenders could be categorized as power–assertive, power–reassurance, anger–retaliatory, and anger– excitation. As with the organized–disorganized dichotomy, the credibility of Keppel and Walter’s typology collapses under empirical scrutiny. Nevertheless, there are signs that progress is being made. Several individuals are attempting to develop CP classification systems and are going through the steps required to validate those systems (e.g., Häkkänen, Lindof, & Santilla, 2004; Kocsis, 2006; Salfati, 2000). Others are taking a bottom-up approach to profiling by identifying individual behavior–offender associations and the condition in which these will arise (e.g., Goodwill & Alison, 2007). However, this research is in its infancy and the typologies emerging are still not used widely in CP circles. Unfortunately, that role is currently taken up by classification systems that are not largely supported by psychological science.
In a similar way to the classic trait theory that was popular in personality psychology up until the late 1960s (Mischel, 1968), the majority of CP approaches (e.g., the organized– disorganized dichotomy) assume that criminal behavior is determined by underlying dispositions within offenders that make them behave in a particular way (e.g., Åsgard, 1998; Badcock, 1997; Boon, 1997; Canter, 1995; Douglas et al., 1992). The assumptions that emerge from this theory are fundamental to CP (Alison, Bennell, Mokros, & Ormerod, 2002; Woodhams & Toye, 2007). For example, the theory leads to the assumption that offenders will exhibit similar behaviors across their offenses as traits, versus situational factors, are the determinants of behavior. Perhaps more important for the practice of CP, the theory also suggests that offenders will display similar behaviors in their crimes and in other aspects of their lives (e.g., interpersonal relationships). How do these assumptions manifest themselves in practice? Take, for example, the FBI’s popular organized–disorganized dichotomy that was described above. This model of CP assumes that offenders are driven to behave either in an organized or disorganized fashion across all aspects of their lives. This supposedly allows the crimes committed by an individual to be correctly linked (i.e., a criminal committing an organized crime will continue to commit organized crimes) and the background characteristics of the offender to be accurately profiled (i.e., crime scenes consisting of organized behaviors reflect the fact that the offenses were committed by an organized individual; Ressler et al., 1986).
Downloaded from cjb.sagepub.com at COVENTRY UNIV PERIODICALS LIB on January 11, 2013
How valid are these assumptions? It is our contention that trait-based models of profiling are fundamentally flawed. Criminal profilers do not seem to have recognized that a consensus began to emerge in the psychological literature some 40 years ago that to rely on traits or personality dispositions as the primary explanation for behavior was a serious mistake. Situational factors contribute as much as personality dispositions to the prediction of behavior (Bowers, 1973; Mischel, 1968). This is equally true when predicting criminal behavior (Alison et al., 2002; Andrews & Bonta, 2006; Bennell & Canter, 2002; Gendreau, Smith, & French, 2006; Woodhams & Toye, 2007). This importance of situational factors is apparent when one actually considers the empirical research in the profiling domain. For example, some studies report that offenders exhibit a reasonable degree of consistency across their crimes, but typically this is only found for a specific subset of behavior. In Bennell and Canter’s (2002) study of serial commercial burglary, very low levels of consistency were observed for behaviors related to items stolen and entry methods (two domains that are heavily dependent on situational factors). However, a high level of consistency was found for crime site selection choices. Similar results (i.e., relatively high levels of consistency for some behaviors but low levels for many others) have been reported for residential burglary (Bennell & Jones, 2005), commercial robbery (Woodhams & Toye, 2007), and sexual offenses (Sjöstedt, Långström, Sturidsson, & Grann, 2004). In other cases, no evidence of across-crime consistency is found. For example, even when using liberal definitions of consistency and multiple methods for classifying and analyzing behaviors, Bateman and Salfati (2007) found no evidence of consistency across the crimes committed by serial killers. This finding is particularly alarming considering the frequency with which profiling is used in such cases (Snook, Haines, Taylor, & Bennell, 2007; Trager & Brewster, 2001). A similar picture emerges when evaluating the degree to which offenders exhibit consistency across their crimes and other aspects of their lives. At best, small pockets of psychologically meaningful consistency have been identified, whereby a specific crime scene behavior is found to relate to a specific background characteristic. For example, Davies et al. (1997) found that rapists who forced entry into premises were four times more likely to have prior convictions for property offenses than those who did not engage in that behavior. Similarly, striking the victim twice or more during a rape indicated that the offender was three times more likely to have a prior conviction for a violent offense than those who did not display this degree of aggression. Other research, however, has not found these relationships. House (1997), for instance, tested the hypothesis that rapists who exhibit a high degree of criminality in their rapes (e.g., overt criminal acts indicative of attempts to conceal identity and avoid apprehension) would be more likely, than other types of rapists (e.g., sadistic, aggressive, or pseudointimate), to exhibit background characteristics related to criminality (e.g., previous incarceration). This was found not to be the case. Even when ignoring the requirement for an underlying theoretical account for a behavior-characteristic relationship, Mokros and Alison (2002) and Woodhams and Toye (2007) were still unable to find compelling evidence of consistency. In general, profilers seem unaware of this empirical research and its implications. Profilers also appear to neglect research in closely related fields. For example, despite a massive effort to identify predictors of consistency in offender samples, within community and prison settings, research has failed to turn up anything of value to criminal profilers. Although it is possible to make reasonably accurate predictions of criminal behavior (with respect to recidivism) across a range of contexts (e.g., Andrews & Bonta, 2006; Andrews, Bonta, & Wormith, 2006; Gendreau, Little, & Goggin, 1996; Hanson & Morton-Bourgon,
Downloaded from cjb.sagepub.com at COVENTRY UNIV PERIODICALS LIB on January 11, 2013
2005), these predictions do not inform profiling practices. Indeed, well-established predictors of criminal behavior (e.g., antisocial attitudes and cognition) are quite unrelated to the sorts of variables typically focused on by profilers (e.g., crime scene behaviors and offender demographics). Unfortunately, instead of heeding this research, profilers continue to make predictions that have no basis in empirical research.
Douglas et al. (1986) stated that “The process used by an investigative profiler in developing a criminal profile is quite similar to that used by clinicians to make a diagnosis and treatment plan . . . Investigators traditionally have learned profiling through brainstorming, intuition, and educated guesswork” (p. 405). This clinically based process is reminiscent of psychoanalytic approaches to therapy where mental health professionals diagnose their clients through subjective interpretations and unsupported methods (Dawes, 1997). Empirical research has shown that clinical experience has a limited effect on the accuracy of psychologists’ and psychiatrists’ judgments across a range of tasks (e.g., Garb, 1998; Garb & Boyle, 2003; Meehl, 1997). In addition, Faust and Ziskin (1988) found low intraand interclinician consistency in judgments of mental health status and argued that when clinicians’ predictions are compared against objectively determinable hard data their error rate often exceeds their accuracy rate. A similar trend exists within the CP domain, where negligible quantitative differences have been found between the predictive ability of professional profilers and nonprofilers. The accuracy of profiler predictions has been tested by comparing the performance of the so-called professional profilers with that of the nonprofiler groups in mock profiling scenarios (Kocsis, 2004b; Kocsis, Hayes, & Irwin, 2002; Kocsis, Irwin, Hayes, & Nunn, 2000; Pinizzotto & Finkel, 1990). In a typical experiment, profilers and nonprofiler groups are asked to review details of a solved crime (or crime series) and then make predictions about the likely offender via a multiple choice questionnaire. Predictions are typically divided into four categories: cognitive processes, physical attributes, offense behaviors, and social history/habits (the results from these four categories are also combined to form an overall profile performance measure). The accuracy of the predictions is checked against the actual perpetrator’s characteristics. Because of a lack of clear agreement on who should be considered a profiler, Snook, Eastwood, et al. (2007) conducted two meta-analyses of these studies.3 The first analysis compared the predictive accuracy of a group of self-labeled profilers and experienced investigators against nonprofilers (e.g., college students and psychologists). The profilers/investigators were more accurate than nonpolice personnel on an overall measure of profile accuracy (r = .24) and on the physical attribute category (r = .10). In contrast, the predictive accuracy of the profilers/investigators was marginally worse or no better than the nonprofilers when it came to predictions of cognitive processes (r = –.06), offense behaviors (r = .00), and social history/habits (r = –.09). With respect to all comparisons, as the 95% confidence intervals (CI) about the point estimates were wide (e.g., two to five times the limit of .10), and often included 0, the estimates of the effect sizes were deemed imprecise. In the second analysis, the experienced investigators were included in the nonprofiler group. In this analysis, the results favored the profilers across all the four predictor categories, but again the 95% CI were unacceptably wide. The best result came when the overall profile was considered (r = .32, 95% CI = .10 to .54). Even if one assumes that this optimistic result could be replicated, it warrants consideration that many variables included
Downloaded from cjb.sagepub.com at COVENTRY UNIV PERIODICALS LIB on January 11, 2013
in this analysis are well known in the criminological literature (e.g., the likelihood that a serial offender will be of a particular age, have particular convictions, suffer substance abuse problems, etc.). This means, in our view, that any police professional with a good knowledge of the criminological literature should be able to achieve this level of success simply by relying on base rate information. In other words, success in CP may not be based on specialized knowledge of the peculiarities and idiosyncrasies found at a given crime scene. In sum, there is no compelling scientific evidence to support the positive view of CP that dominates popular opinion. Far from cutting edge science, CP approaches are based on typologies that lack empirical support and are often based on an outdated understanding of human behavior. In addition, professional profilers often produce predictions that are not significantly more accurate than nonprofilers. Given this state of affairs, one might wonder why police officers continue to request the assistance of profilers. Whereas some police officers report using CP because they believe that it works (e.g., Copson, 1995; Jackson et al., 1993; Pinizzotto, 1984), there are likely other officers who use CP but do not believe that it works. We suspect that some of these officers might use CP because they believe (or are instructed) that it is their duty to use all available investigative techniques. Others may believe that they have nothing to lose in seeing what a profiler can offer to an investigation. It is not known, however, whether CP is helpful or harmful to police investigations. As positive beliefs about the validity and reliability of CP are not supported by empirical evidence, the rest of this article is devoted to explaining why people might believe that CP works. We address eight reasons that can explain why criminal profilers, the police, and the public might believe CP works in the absence of scientific support. These reasons are divided into two categories: The first four are elements of the message that people receive about CP and the second four relate to human cognition. These reasons are neither exhaustive nor mutually exclusive.
Research shows that second hand knowledge, such as that acquired from the media, often does not reflect the actual state of affairs (Sprott, 1996). Thus, unless people adopt a critical approach to information consumption, their judgments about the viability of practices like CP can be contaminated by the inaccurate or biased information that is being conveyed (Stanovich, 1992). The following are the four aspects of information from the CP environment (i.e., messages about CP) that have the potential to convince people that CP works.
Personal stories about exceptional incidents and experiences can be very seductive because they are concrete, vivid, and memorable (Borgida & Nisbett, 1977; Stanovich, 1992). However, their seductiveness has no relation to their credibility. A cornerstone of the scientific method is that conclusions should not be drawn from anecdotes that have no way of being replicated or understood in a way that permits generalization (Fearon, 2003; Wallston, 1983). Yet because anecdotes hold appeal in their concrete example and because most people are not trained to seek objective facts and reliable evidence (Carroll, 2003; Gilovich, 1991; Sagan, 1996; Shermer, 2003), people may automatically allow information obtained from anecdotes to form the foundation of their beliefs.
Downloaded from cjb.sagepub.com at COVENTRY UNIV PERIODICALS LIB on January 11, 2013
Unfortunately, many published accounts of CP rely on anecdotal evidence to illustrate how the technique is useful in catching criminals (e.g., Canter, 1994; Cook & Hinman, 1999). Snook, Eastwood, et al. (2007), for example, found that 60% of the 130 CP articles they reviewed used at least one anecdote as a source of knowledge. The most vivid and widely cited anecdote is undoubtedly that of New York’s Mad Bomber, George Metesky (Brussel, 1968). In their attempts to catch the bomber, investigators requested the assistance of psychiatrist James A. Brussel to profile the criminal. Among other things, Brussel (1968) reportedly predicted that the bomber was a regular man, of ordinary fashions, who was foreign born and attended church regularly, and that he would be wearing a buttoned doublebreasted suit when apprehended by authorities. It is often reported that Brussel correctly predicted a number of factors such as Metesky’s demeanor, social activities, health condition, and even the double-breasted suit. However, certain details of this case are typically overlooked when it is discussed in CP accounts. For example, rarely is it mentioned that Brussel’s profile was published in The New York Times during the investigation (“16-year,” 1956) and that Metesky was acknowledged as following the media reports (Berger, 1957b), thus opening up the possibility that Metesky consciously or unconsciously altered his behavior based on what he had read. In addition, the profile did not actually solve the case as is commonly implied (Kocsis, 2004a). Information found on disgruntled employees in personnel files led investigators to inquire about Metesky (Berger, 1957a). Of course, it is not the use of case studies per se that necessarily biases people’s views of CP. Rather, it is the way case studies are used by advocates of CP that can result in problems. For example, nearly every published case study we have come across reports a success story, where a profiler provided an accurate profile that helped resolve a difficult criminal investigation. Many of these case studies have extremely seductive qualities, such as those highlighted by the Mad Bomber description provided above (e.g., extremely specific and seemingly accurate predictions, which are made with access to very limited information). In short, there is no element of balance in the presentation of case studies, despite the fact that much could be learned from cases where CP was employed unsuccessfully. Under such biased conditions it is not difficult to see why many people would believe that CP works. They simply generalize from the many success stories they read to the field of CP more generally.
Empirical research shows that the likelihood of an individual’s agreeing with a message generally increases as the message is repeated (Cacioppo & Petty, 1979). Thus, repeating the message that CP is an effective investigative tool may contribute to the CP illusion. In addition to repeated messages that CP works, people are often told that more and more people are becoming trained in CP. For example, one proponent of profiling stated that “As more and more personnel become trained and experienced in the application of the investigative technique of CP, more agencies will believe in its use” (Davis, 1999, p. 293). Repeated suggestions that police officers seek CP input for investigations because they find it helpful can also persuade people that CP is viable (Kocsis, 2003a). It is not uncommon to read statements testifying to the value of CP, such as “criminal personality profiling has been used by law enforcement agencies with success in many areas” (Douglas & Burgess, 1986, p. 9), “more and more cases are being successfully analyzed, and criminal profiles are being constructed with remarkable accuracy” (Depue, 1986, p. 5), and “profiling has proven time and time again to be a valuable investigative tool
Downloaded from cjb.sagepub.com at COVENTRY UNIV PERIODICALS LIB on January 11, 2013
in the arsenal of today’s modern law enforcement cadre” (Davis, 1999, p. 293). Although such testimonials may provide an uncritical reader with the impression that CP works, the unfortunate reality is that the validity of such testimonials has yet to be empirically supported, and they are an inadequate basis for a belief. More importantly, as highlighted above, such statements fail to correspond to research that has examined the predictive ability of profilers (Snook, Eastwood, et al., 2007).
Profilers can create the impression that their trade is viable by overemphasizing their correct predictions (e.g., Canter, 1994; Douglas & Olshaker, 1995; McCrary & Ramsland, 2003) and by conducting studies that only measure accuracy as the number of correct predictions rather than the proportion of correct predictions (Kocsis, 2004b; Kocsis et al., 2002; Kocsis et al., 2000; Pinizzotto & Finkel, 1990). When all the necessary and pertinent information is not reported, readers may form beliefs based solely on the information that is presented to them (Gilovich, 1991; Paulos, 1988; Plous, 1993). Previous research in the judgment and decision-making domain (Chapman & Chapman, 1967; Crocker, 1981, 1982; White, 2003) suggested that the exclusive presentation of correct predictions can lead people to overestimate the accuracy and potential utility of profiles. An article by Douglas et al. (1986) illustrates nicely how correct predictions are accentuated to promote the belief that CP is beneficial. Douglas and his colleagues presented a profile that predicted 29 criminal characteristics, but when discussing the accuracy of the profile, the authors emphasized just the 11 correct predictions (10 hits and 1 correct rejection). With some effort, one can collect all the evidence that is necessary (and should have been presented) for a reader to sufficiently assess the validity of that profile. If there were 11 correct predictions (hits and correct rejections), then there were 18 incorrect predictions (false alarms and misses). The profile was only 38% accurate! Because profilers focus their attention on their successes, they (and potentially the consumers of their profiles) appear to overattribute the causality of solved cases to their CP predictions (Lassiter, Geers, Munhall, Ploutz-Snyder, & Breitenbecher, 2002). It should not be overlooked that incorrect predictions have the potential to mislead an investigation.
Experts are people who have professional competence in a specialized area, usually acquired in the course of extensive theoretical and practical training (Kurz-Milcke & Gigerenzer, 2004). Because of this, people often accept information that is communicated to them by apparent authority figures or experts as being correct (Bochner & Insko, 1966; Milgram, 1964). This has been referred to in the literature as the use of an expertise heuristic (i.e., that experts’ statements can be trusted; Reimer, Mata, & Stoecklin, 2004). Evidence for usage of the expertise heuristic is already available in the CP domain. For example, police officers viewing a profile rate it as more accurate when the production of the profile is attributed to an expert rather than a nonexpert (Kocsis & Hayes, 2004; Kocsis & Heller, 2004). Experts in a criminal investigative context ought to provide the police with specialized skills or knowledge beyond that of the ordinary police officer (Gudjonsson & Copson, 1997). Some profilers claim that they possess accumulated wisdom, investigative and behavioral science experience, and training and/or knowledge of abnormal behavior that
Downloaded from cjb.sagepub.com at COVENTRY UNIV PERIODICALS LIB on January 11, 2013
provides them with the necessary skills to predict offender characteristics from crime scene data, which is presumably beyond the ability of the average police officer and layperson (e.g., Ault & Reese, 1980; Blau, 1994; Cook & Hinman, 1999; Douglas & Burgess, 1986; Hazelwood, Ressler, Depue, & Douglas, 1995). Other profilers claim that their skills and knowledge have come from a long, formal scientific education that trained them to identify the statistical relationships between crime details and criminal personality and background characteristics (e.g., Canter, 1994; Godwin, 1999; Kocsis, Cooksey, & Irwin, 2002a, 2002b; Salfati & Canter, 1999). To date, however, profilers have failed to show that their training improves their ability to develop accurate profiles (Snook, Eastwood et al., 2007). Other than the possession of specialized skills or knowledge, profilers might also be viewed as experts because they have testified as expert witnesses in court (McCann, 1992). Legal scholars, however, have been quick to challenge this notion because CP is not a generally accepted scientific technique, is not reliable, cannot prove the guilt of the defendant, and does not provide explanations that are outside the normal understanding of the jury (Ormerod, 1996a, 1996b; Risinger & Loop, 2002). Moreover, profile-based evidence has, on occasion, been found unacceptable by the courts because it is has been considered junk science (e.g., State v. Fortin, 1999). Also challenging the expert profiler label is the lack of consensus about who can be a profiler and a generally accepted regulatory body that provides professional profiling designations.4
People believe all kinds of strange things that are uncorroborated by scientific evidence. Prescient examples include the occurrence of alien abductions, the hot hand phenomenon in basketball, reincarnation, remote viewing, and the mystical power of the Egyptian pyramids (Gilovich, 1991; Hines, 1988; Vyse, 1997). Researchers have spent a great deal of time investigating how and why people might believe in unproven things. According to Shermer (2002), a consensus among many of these scientists is that the human mind evolved to identify patterns among environmental occurrences, a process that is believed to have been adaptive for the species, but which can lead to the identification of meaningless patterns. The identification of meaningless patterns can explain to a certain degree why people might believe that things such as psychic predictions, past-life regressions, and CP predictions are valid. Note that it is not our contention in this article to claim that these beliefs are irrational. Beliefs are merely a product of processing information from the environment. When the information is bogus, so will be the belief. Four aspects of human cognition that contribute to the CP illusion are discussed below.
People may believe in CP because of misguidance by natural human reasoning processes. People attempt to find order and meaning in an uncertain world and then form beliefs that can guide future behaviors (Gigerenzer, 2002; Shermer, 2003). From an evolutionary perspective, such cognitive processes allowed people to adapt to and control changing environments. However, in attempting to find useful patterns, people sometimes observe meaningless patterns. For example, a baseball player who does not shave before a game in
Downloaded from cjb.sagepub.com at COVENTRY UNIV PERIODICALS LIB on January 11, 2013
which he hits two home-runs may infer that not shaving increases his performance and consequently never shave again before a game. This type of natural reasoning is often labeled superstition (Vyse, 1997). In the psychological literature, a variety of ways in which natural cognitive processing can lead to erroneous inferences have been documented (see Myers, 2002, for an overview of cognitive distortions). A consideration of these cognitive tendencies can help explain why profilers, police officers, and the public might believe CP works. Judgment and decision-making research (e.g., Gilovich, 1991; Myers, 2002) suggests that profilers might assign more personal responsibility to investigative success than to investigative failure (i.e., self-serving bias) and be more confident in their ability to make accurate predictions than they should be (i.e., overconfidence). In addition, profilers and the public may attribute perceived successes to the profiler’s abilities and discount the importance of the police officers’ contribution (i.e., fundamental attribution error). Furthermore, profilers, police officers, and the public might be susceptible to misperceiving a profiler’s competence if they evaluate the accuracy of a profile after the apprehension of the criminal (i.e., hindsight bias), or perceive a relationship between a profiler’s predictions and the resolution of a case where one does not exist (i.e., illusory correlation). After-the-fact reasoning is one particularly good example of how natural reasoning can lead to the detection of meaningless patterns (Carroll, 2003; Gilovich, 1991; Pope & Vasquez, 2005; Sagan, 1996; Shermer, 2002). Many events follow sequential patterns without being causally related; after this does not necessarily mean because of this. In some cases, criminal profiles appear to be the primary cause of the successful resolution of an investigation simply because a profile was obtained before the case was solved (e.g., Copson, 1995; Tenten, 1989; Wilson, Lincoln, & Kocsis, 1997). It might be the case that people believe in CP due to the inability to distinguish between meaningful and meaningless patterns. A ubiquitous cognitive tendency that may also explain why profilers, law enforcement officers, and the rest of us believe in the veracity and predictive validity of CP is confirmation bias. Confirmation bias involves looking for, often unconsciously, evidence that confirms an existing belief and ignoring or filtering out evidence that disconfirms that belief (Nickerson, 1998; Shermer, 2003). This type of cognitive tendency has been shown to affect general public and scientists alike and, according to Shermer, is the most powerful of all cognitive biases that operates to confirm and justify many weird beliefs. He has argued that psychics, fortunetellers, palm readers, and astrologers all depend on confirmation bias to convince people of their abilities. Specifically, he believes that telling the client what to expect in the future (a one-sided event instead of a two-sided event) causes the client to notice the occurrence of a predicted event but ignore or filter out the nonoccurrence of a predicted event. By extension, it would not be surprising to discover that confirmation bias plays a role in the formation, and defense, of positive beliefs regarding CP. We suspect that there may be a tendency for those who have formed a positive belief about profiling to look for or remember confirmatory evidence (e.g., correct predictions or successful anecdotes, which are often evident in the literature and popular media) that supports their belief that profiling works and to ignore and/or forget contradictory evidence (e.g., incorrect predictions or unsuccessful anecdotes, which are rarely presented in the literature or popular media).
Clinical and personality research has consistently demonstrated that people are inclined to accept ambiguous, vague, and general statements as accurate descriptions of their own
Downloaded from cjb.sagepub.com at COVENTRY UNIV PERIODICALS LIB on January 11, 2013
personalities (e.g., Dickson & Kelly, 1985; Johnson, Cain, Falke, Hayman, & Perillo, 1985; Sundberg, 1955). This phenomenon has been coined the Barnum effect, and within the psychological field it is believed to be especially problematic for the acceptance of clinical diagnoses (Snyder, Shenkel, & Lowery, 1977). Some researchers attribute the considerable acceptance rate of high base-rate feedback to human gullibility, whereas others note the importance of factors such as social desirability, situational insecurity, and interpreter prestige (PiperTerry & Downey, 1998). Furthermore, Snyder, Larsen, and Bloom’s (1976) results suggested that people are more inclined to accept a bogus personality description when it is believed to be based on a psychological assessment procedure rather than an alternate technique such as astrology, although in that study, differences in the degrees of acceptance were marginal. In the CP context, a similar effect can occur when individuals evaluate whether or not an ambiguous profile describes a suspect accurately. Many profiles are so ambiguous that they can appear to describe any suspect (Alison, Smith, Eastman, & Rainbow, 2003). For example, Alison, Smith, Eastman, et al. (2003) analyzed 21 criminal profiles that were used in major criminal investigations and found a total of 3,090 statements. Of the 880 statements that contained predictions about the characteristics of the unknown criminal, 82% were unsubstantiated, 55% were unverifiable, 28% were falsifiable, and 24% were ambiguous. In a related study, Alison, Smith, and Morgan (2003) examined police officers’ propensity to estimate the accuracy of an ambiguous profile. Two groups of officers were given the same ambiguous profile but substantially different descriptions of the criminal that the profile supposedly described (only one being that of the genuine offender). Accuracy judgments for both groups averaged 5.3 out of 7, suggesting that when a criminal is apprehended, any profile might retrospectively appear to describe him or her accurately. A phenomenon related to the Barnum effect, known as the personal validation effect (e.g., Collins, Dmitruk, & Ranney, 1977), is concerned with changes in participants’ attitudes when taking part in Barnum experiments. Personality research suggests that faith in psychological assessment methods and perceptions of diagnosticians’ skills may increase as a result of exposure to ambiguous personality descriptions. For instance, Snyder et al. (1976) presented participants with a bogus personality interpretation and asked them to rate the acceptance of this interpretation as being personally relevant. As in previous studies, Snyder et al. found evidence for the Barnum effect. The more interesting contribution from this study, however, was that both faith in the assessment procedure and diagnostician’s perceived skill were found to increase significantly after the participants evaluated the interpretation, regardless of whether the assessment procedure was based on astrology, graphology, or psychology. Their findings suggest that beliefs about CP methods and profiler skills may become more favorable after people are exposed to ambiguous profile material, even when the CP method is not actually valid and the profiler is not actually skilled.
People often believe things, or do things a certain way, because they were believed or done that way by others (Dawkins, 2003). Dawkins (2003) contends that people form some beliefs without ever connecting them to evidence of their veracity. Simon (1990) has similarly argued that a large amount of what we know is naturally acquired from other people’s behavior and instructions, and the tendency to accept the beliefs of others allows people to obtain knowledge and skills that may be useful in many of life’s activities. Imitating others is adaptive because people do not need to expend much time or cognitive resources to
Downloaded from cjb.sagepub.com at COVENTRY UNIV PERIODICALS LIB on January 11, 2013
carefully evaluate the consequences of everything they have observed (Simon, 1990). Believing things through imitation is the outcome of bounded human rationality in a complex world (Simon, 1990), but the consequence of uncritical acceptance of ideas is that people sometimes accept unhelpful information. Police officers may believe CP is a valid investigative technique because they observe other police officers using it and accept messages promoting its effectiveness. Support for this argument comes from the results of a survey by Jackson et al. (1993). They found that police officers who used CP learned about it through informal policing networks within their police force and contact with colleagues who possessed knowledge about CP. Other ways by which officers learn about CP are through lectures, articles in police publications, and technical training at police academies and colleges (Jackson & Bekerian, 1997). As we have already described, most of these information sources present CP as a viable investigative tool. Related to imitation is the phenomenon of social contagion. Social contagion research suggests that people will adopt others’ beliefs after observing behavior that appeared to work. For example, suicide often occurs in clusters and is therefore thought to be contagious (Stack, 2000). According to Gould, Jamieson, and Romer (2003), fictional and nonfictional portrayals of suicide may make taking one’s own life appear as an effective tool for achieving personal gain. Social contagion has also been documented for such phenomena as burnout among teachers (Bakker & Schaufeli, 2000), violence and aggression (Berkowitz & Macaulay, 1971; Goldstein, Arnold, & Rosenberg, 2001), military coups (Li & Thompson, 1975), mood (Neumann & Strack, 2000), and scratching in Japanese monkeys (Nakayama, 2004). Using CP and believing it works is likely contagious as well. The importance of contagion to an account of why CP is believed to be a good idea is evidenced by numerous instances of public popularity. For example, according to Egger (1999), the Mad Bomber case ignited the notion that CP is a viable tool, but it was developments made by the FBI (e.g., training programs, extensive publications, television appearances) that led to the rapid growth in CP activities in the United States. In the United Kingdom, it appears that the apparent success of David Canter’s profile in the Railway Rapist case led to an upsurge in both the interest and usage of CP. For instance, Copson (1995) found a tripling of the number of profile requests in the year following that case. Although it may be difficult to assess whether CP contagion exists, it is indisputable that there has been a steady rise, with intermittent dramatic increases, in CP use (e.g., see Copson, 1995, for data from the United Kingdom). This suggests that both imitation and social contagion may be contributing to the CP illusion.
People are particularly attracted to phenomena that appeal to fantasy by focusing on the powers that ordinary people lack but desire (Sagan, 1996). Green, Brock, and Kaufman (2004) asserted that individuals generally want to be entertained and tend to seek out fiction rather than nonfiction to achieve this entertainment. They suggest that the main reason people appear to be attracted to the media is the desire to escape from the real world. They also maintain that people are susceptible to adopting beliefs about real world events that are entirely based on fictional accounts. Because people are often intrigued by the criminal mind, CP activities tend to generate considerable public fascination. This observation is evidenced by the number of books, films, and television programs that deal with CP as well as the recent growth in college and university courses that address CP issues. Grubin (1995) has also suggested that CP appeals to fantasy
Downloaded from cjb.sagepub.com at COVENTRY UNIV PERIODICALS LIB on January 11, 2013
because it conjures up the image of “the cerebral sleuth relying solely on his acute powers of observation and deductive reasoning to identify an elusive and much feared serial rapist” (p. 262). Indeed, some researchers have actually attributed, or at least associated, the origins of CP to fictional detectives such as Edgar Allan Poe’s C. Auguste Dupin, Agatha Christies’s Hercule Poirot, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes (Blau, 1994; Campbell, 1976; Canter, 2000; McCann, 1992; Muller, 2000). The profiling fantasy is also the result of journalists who write about profilers with mystical powers of deduction, thereby increasing the public’s belief in the validity of an unproven investigative method (Alison & Canter, 1999).
There is a growing belief that profilers can accurately and consistently predict a criminal’s characteristics based on crime scene evidence. This increased belief is evident from the fact that CP is becoming prevalent as an investigative technique, that positive opinions of CP are being communicated in published literature, and that police officers and mental health professionals support the use of CP. We contend that this belief is illusory because a critical analysis of research on CP showed that the field lacks theoretical grounding and empirical support. We proposed that belief in such a pseudoscientific practice is due to an interaction between the message and the mind—that is, the interaction between the information that people receive about CP and the way they process that information. As CP has the potential to mislead criminal investigators, and thereby either hinder the apprehension of guilty criminals or lead to wrongful convictions, it is a practice that must be approached critically. Various information sources present fictional or nonfictional anecdotes involving the invaluable help of expert profilers in solving serious cases. The expert profilers use post hoc analysis of ambiguous predictions to create the impression that they reduced a detective’s uncertainty about how to proceed with an investigation by providing a simple solution to a complex case. This has the potential of generating a reliance on a process that does not advance an investigation. The belief that CP works is troubling because of the meager scientific evidence to support the practice. Nevertheless, we agree with Lilienfeld (2005) that there are at least three reasons for researchers to conduct proper scientific evaluations of practices that currently lack scientific support. First, CP may actually work. As Lilienfeld has argued, extraordinary claims may be shown to contain a core of truth that should not be automatically dismissed. In our opinion, the burden is on profilers, who make extraordinary claims about their abilities, to prove their worth by actually participating in controlled experimental studies. Second, people deserve to have an accurate view of CP. Conducting and disseminating scientific research is the best method to ensure that this occurs. Third, the effect of CP on police investigations is unknown. Research will be able to determine these effects, whether positive or negative. We anticipate that police officers might argue that they do not have time to wait for scientific evidence from CP research because they have to use something to assist them in their investigations. Such a response is justified, but, according to Lilienfeld, it is likely to cause tension between those who are skeptical about CP and those who believe that CP can contribute to an investigation. More than 50 years of CP practice have passed without much rigorous scientific evaluation. We contend that it is now time to remove the shroud of secrecy in the CP field, evaluate it, and put the burden back on profilers to prove their worth.5 We explored the CP
Downloaded from cjb.sagepub.com at COVENTRY UNIV PERIODICALS LIB on January 11, 2013
illusion with the intention of providing a natural explanation for a belief that lacks scientific support. The next logical step is to test the various claims that we have made in this article. All currently uncorroborated statements we have made are testable and falsifiable by scientific research. Until this occurs, we advocate that readers approach CP, and even our article, with a critical mind.
1. Although the scope of criminal profiling (CP) practice now goes beyond this original definition to include advice on interview strategies, media strategies, prioritizing resources, statement analysis, and so on, we believe that predicting offender characteristics remains the primary goal of CP. All of this additional advice is dependent on the type of person that the profiler believes committed the crime. Some CP advocates will no doubt argue that there are newer approaches to profiling that are based on empirical science (or that the field has moved on). However, research demonstrating how these new approaches are superior to existing profiling methods, or data illustrating their improved predictive validity, is nonexistent (see Hicks & Sales, 2006, for a similar view). Although some may consider geographic profiling as an integral part of criminal profiling, it is beyond the scope of the current article. 2. These two types are not necessarily mutually exclusive. 3. Although credit must be given to Richard Kocsis for collecting data that are suitable for a meta-analysis, that research (e.g., Kocsis, 2003b, 2004b; Kocsis, Hayes, & Irwin, 2002; Kocsis, Irwin, Hayes, & Nunn, 2000) has been criticized for a range of methodological and conceptual limitations such as the use of multiple choice questionnaires, variation in the length of time given to participants to complete the experiment, and aggregating data to favor the experimental group (see Bennell, Jones, Taylor, & Snook, 2006). 4. There is an existing regulatory body, the International Criminal Investigative Analysis Fellowship (ICIAF), which trains and accredits profilers. However, this organization has yet to gain widespread acceptance within the profiling and research communities. 5. Whether or not criminal profilers will readily come forward in sufficient numbers to have their skills assessed is questionable. Kocsis et al. (2000) reported that they requested 40 active profilers to take part in their experiments, but only 5 agreed to participate. We hope that profilers who read this article will contact us about participating in experimental tests of their abilities.
Alison, L. J., Bennell, C., Mokros, A., & Ormerod, D. (2002). The personality paradox in offender profiling: A theoretical review of the processes involved in deriving background characteristics from crime scene actions. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 8, 115-135. Alison, L. J., & Canter, D. V. (1999). Professional, legal, and ethical issues in offender profiling. In D. V. Canter & L. J. Alison (Eds.), Profiling in policy and practice (pp. 21-54). Aldershot, UK: Ashgate. Alison, L. J., Smith, M. D., Eastman, O., & Rainbow, L. (2003). Toulmin’s philosophy of argument and its relevance to offender profiling. Psychology, Crime and Law, 9, 173-183. Alison, L. J., Smith, M. D., & Morgan, K. (2003). Interpreting the accuracy of offender profiles. Psychology, Crime and Law, 9, 185-195. Andrews, D. A., & Bonta, J. (2006). Psychology of criminal conduct. Cincinnati, OH: Anderson. Andrews, D. A., Bonta, J., & Wormith, J. S. (2006). The recent past and near future of risk and/or need assessment. Crime & Delinquency, 52, 7-27. Åsgard, U. (1998). Swedish experiences in offender profiling and evaluation of some aspects of a case of murder and abduction in Germany. In Case Analysis Unit (BKA), Method of case analysis: An international symposium (pp. 125-130). Weisbaden, Germany: Bundeskriminalamt Kriminalistisches Institut. Ault, R. L., Jr., & Reese, J. T. (1980). A psychological assessment of crime profiling. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, 49, 22-25. Badcock, R. (1997). Developmental and clinical issues in relation to offending in the individual. In J. L. Jackson & D. B. Bekerian (Eds.), Offender profiling: Theory, research, and practice (pp. 9-42). Chichester, UK: Wiley. Bakker, A. B., & Schaufeli, W. B. (2000). Burnout contagion processes among teachers. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 30, 2289-2308. Bartol, C. R. (1996). Police psychology: Then, now, and beyond. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 23, 70-89. Bateman, A. L., & Salfati, C. G. (2007). An examination of behavioral consistency using individual behaviors or groups of behaviors in serial homicide. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 25, 527-544. Bennell, C., & Canter, D. V. (2002). Linking commercial burglaries by modus operandi: Tests using regression and ROC analysis. Science & Justice, 42, 153-164.
Downloaded from cjb.sagepub.com at COVENTRY UNIV PERIODICALS LIB on January 11, 2013
Bennell, C., & Jones, N. J. (2005). Between a ROC and a hard place: A method for linking serial burglaries using an offender’s modus operandi. Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling, 2, 23-41. Bennell, C., Jones, N. J., Taylor, P. J., & Snook, B. (2006). Validities and abilities in criminal profiling: A critique of the studies conducted by Richard Kocsis and his colleagues. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 50, 344-360. Berger, M. (1957a, January 23). Bomber is booked: Sent to Bellevue for mental tests. The New York Times, pp. 1, 18. Berger, M. (1957b, January 25). Twisted course of “Mad Bomber” vengeance traced in a deeply complex personality. The New York Times, p. 18. Berkowitz, L., & Macaulay, J. (1971). The contagion of criminal violence. Sociometry, 34, 238-260. Blau, T. H. (1994). Psychological profiling. In T. H. Blau (Ed.), Psychological services for law enforcement (pp. 261-274). New York: John Wiley. Bochner, S., & Insko, C. A. (1966). Communicator discrepancy, source credibility, and opinion change. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 4, 614-621. Boon, J. C. W. (1997). The contribution of personality theories to psychological profiling. In J. L. Jackson & D. B. Bekerian (Eds.), Offender profiling: Theory, research, and practice (pp. 43-59). Chichester, UK: Wiley. Borgida, E., & Nisbett, R. E. (1977). The differential impact of abstract vs. concrete information on decisions. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 7, 258-271. Bowers, K. (1973). Situationism in psychology: An analysis and a critique. Psychological Review, 80, 307-336. Brussel, J. A. (1968). Casebook of a crime psychiatrist. London: New English Library. Cacioppo, J. T., & Petty, R. E. (1979). The effects of message repetition and position on cognitive responses, recall, and persuasion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 97-109. Campbell, C. (1976, May). Portrait of a mass killer. Psychology Today, 9, 110-119. Canter, D. V. (1994). Criminal shadows: Inside the mind of the serial killer. London: HarperCollins. Canter, D. V. (1995). Psychology of offender profiling. In R. Bull & D. Carson (Eds.), Handbook of psychology in legal contexts (pp. 343-373). Chichester, UK: Wiley. Canter, D. V. (2000). Offender profiling and criminal differentiation. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 5, 23-46. Canter, D. V., Alison, L. J., Alison, E., & Wentink, N. (2004). The organized/disorganized typology of serial murder: Myth or model? Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 10, 293-320. Canter, D. V., & Fritzon, K. (1998). Differentiating arsonists: A model of firesetting actions and characteristics. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 3, 73-96. Canter, D. V., & Wentink, N. (2004). An empirical test of Holmes and Holmes’s serial murder typology. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 20, 1-26. Carroll, R. T. (2003). The skeptic’s dictionary: A collection of strange beliefs, amusing deceptions, and dangerous delusions. New York: John Wiley. Chapman, L. J., & Chapman, J. P. (1967). Genesis of popular but erroneous psychodiagnostic observations. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 72, 271-280. Clark, D. (2002). Dark paths, cold trails: How a Mountie led the quest to link serial killers to their victims. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: HarperCollins. Collins, R. W., Dmitruk, V. M., & Ranney, J. R. (1977). Personal validation: Some empirical and ethical considerations. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 45, 70-77. Cook, P. E., & Hinman, D. L. (1999). Criminal profiling. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 15, 230-241. Copson, G. (1995). Coals to Newcastle? Part 1: A study of offender profiling. London: Home Office, Police Research Group. Copson, G., Badcock, R., Boon, J., & Britton, P. (1997). Editorial: Articulating a systematic approach to clinical crime profiling. Criminal Behavior and Mental Health, 7, 13-17. Crocker, J. (1981). Judgment of covariation by social perceivers. Psychological Bulletin, 90, 272-292. Crocker, J. (1982). Biased questions in judgments of covariation studies. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 8, 214220. Davies, A., Wittebrood, K., & Jackson, J. L. (1997). Predicting the criminal antecedents of a stranger rapist from his offence behaviour. Science & Justice, 37, 161-170. Davis, J. A. (1999). Criminal personality profiling and crime scene assessment. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 15, 291-301. Dawes, R. M. (1997). House of cards: Psychology and psychotherapy built on myth. New York: Free Press. Dawkins, R. (2003). A devil’s chaplain: Reflections on home, lies, science, and love. New York: Houghton Mifflin. Depue, R. L. (1986). An American response to an era of violence. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, 55(12), 2-5. Dickson, D. H., & Kelly, I. W. (1985). The “Barnum effect” in personality assessment: A review of the literature. Psychological Reports, 57, 367-382. Douglas, J. E., & Burgess, A. E. (1986). Criminal profiling: A viable investigative tool against violent crime. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, 55(12), 9-13. Douglas, J. E., Burgess, A. W., Burgess, A. G., & Ressler, R. K. (1992). Crime classification manual: A standard system for investigating and classifying violent crime. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Downloaded from cjb.sagepub.com at COVENTRY UNIV PERIODICALS LIB on January 11, 2013
Douglas, J. E., & Munn, C. (1992). Violent crime scene analysis: Modus operandi, signature, and staging. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, 61(2), 1-10. Douglas, J. E., & Olshaker, M. (1995). Mind hunter: Inside the FBI’s elite serial crime unit. New York: Simon & Schuster. Douglas, J. E., Ressler, R. K., Burgess, A. W., & Hartman, C. R. (1986). Criminal profiling from crime scene analysis. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 4, 401-421. Dowden, C., Bennell, C., & Bloomfield, S. (2007). Advances in offender profiling: A systematic review of the profiling literatures published over the past 30 years. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, 22, 44-56. Egger, S. A. (1999). Psychological profiling. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 15, 242-261. Farrington, D. P., & Lambert, S. (1997). Predicting offender profiles from the victim and witness descriptions. In J. L. Jackson & D. B. Bekerian (Eds.), Offender profiling: Theory, research, and practice (pp. 133-158). Chichester, UK: Wiley. Faust, D., & Ziskin, J. (1988). The expert witness in psychology and psychiatry. Science, 241, 31-35. Fearon, P. (2003). Big problems with small samples. Psychologist Special Statistics: Are You Behind the Times?, 16, 632-635. Garb, H. N. (1998). Studying the clinician: Judgment research and psychological assessment. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Garb, H. N., & Boyle, P. A. (2003). Understanding why some clinicians use pseudoscientific methods: Findings from research on clinical judgment. In S. O. Lilienfeld, S. J. Lynn, & J. M. Lohr (Eds.), Science and pseudoscience in clinical psychology (pp. 17-38). New York: Guilford. Gendreau, P., Little, T., & Goggin, C. (1996). A meta-analysis of adult offender recidivism: What works! Criminology, 34, 575-607. Gendreau, P., Smith, P., & French, S. (2006). The theory of effective correctional intervention: Empirical status and future directions. In F. Cullen, J. Wright, & M. Coleman (Eds.), Taking Stock: The status of criminological theory (pp. 419-446). Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Press. Gigerenzer, G. (2002). Reckoning with risk: Learning to live with uncertainty. London: Penguin. Gilovich, T. (1991). How we know what isn’t so: The fallibility of human reason in everyday life. New York: Free Press. Godwin, M. G. (1999). Hunting serial predators: A multivariate approach to profiling violent behavior. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. Goldstein, N. E., Arnold, D. H., & Rosenberg, J. L. (2001). Contagion of aggression in day care classrooms as a function of peer and teacher responses. Journal of Educational Psychology, 93, 708-719. Goodwill, A. M., & Alison, L. (2007). When is profiling possible? Offense planning and aggression as moderators in predicting offender age from victim age in stranger rape. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 25, 823-840. Gould, M., Jamieson, P., & Romer, D. (2003). Media contagion and suicide among the young. American Behavioral Scientist, 46, 1269-1284. Green, M. C., Brock, T. C., & Kaufman, G. (2004). Understanding media enjoyment: The role of transportation into narrative worlds. Communication Theory, 14, 311-327. Grubin, D. (1995). Offender profiling. The Journal of Forensic Psychiatry, 6, 259-263. Gudjonsson, G. H., & Copson, G. (1997). The role of the expert in the criminal investigation. In J. L. Jackson & D. B. Bekerian (Eds.), Offender profiling: Theory, research, and practice (pp. 61-76). Chichester, UK: Wiley. Häkkänen, H., Lindof, P., & Santilla, P. (2004). Crime scene actions and offender characteristics in a sample of Finnish stranger rapes. Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling, 1, 17-32. Hanson, R. K., & Morton-Bourgon, K. E. (2005). The characteristics of persistent sexual offenders: A meta-analysis of recidivism studies. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 73, 1154-1163. Hazelwood, R. R., Ressler, R. K., Depue, R. L., & Douglas, J. E. (1995). Criminal investigative analysis: An overview. In A. W. Burgess & R. R. Hazelwood (Eds.), Practical aspects of rape investigation: A multidisciplinary approach (pp. 115-126). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. Hicks, S. J., & Sales, B. D. (2006). Criminal profiling: Developing an effective science and practice. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Hines, T. (1988). Pseudoscience and the paranormal: A critical examination of the evidence. New York: Prometheus Books. Holmes, R. M., & Holmes, S. (1996). Profiling violent crimes: An investigative tool. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Homant, R. J., & Kennedy, D. B. (1998). Psychological aspects of crime scene profiling. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 25, 319-343. House, J. C. (1997). Towards a practical application of offender profiling: The RNC’s criminal suspect prioritization system. In J. L. Jackson & D. A. Bekerian (Eds.), Offender profiling: Theory, research and practice (pp. 177-190). Chichester, UK: Wiley. Jackson, J. L., & Bekerian, D. A. (1997). Does offender profiling have a role to play? In J. L. Jackson & D. B. Bekerian (Eds.), Offender profiling: Theory, research, and practice (pp. 1-7). Chichester, UK: Wiley. Jackson, J. L., Herbrink, J. C. M., & van Koppen, P. J. (1997). An empirical approach to offender profiling. In V. G. S. Redondon, J. Perez, & R. Barbaret (Eds.), Advances in psychology and law: International contributions (pp. 333-345). Berlin, Germany: De Gruyter. Jackson, J. L., van den Eshof. P., & de Kleuver, E. E. (1997). A research approach to offender profiling. In J. L. Jackson & D. B. Bekerian (Eds.), Offender profiling: Theory, research, and practice (pp. 107-132). Chichester, UK: Wiley.
Downloaded from cjb.sagepub.com at COVENTRY UNIV PERIODICALS LIB on January 11, 2013
Jackson, J. L., van Koppen, P. J., & Herbrink, J. C. M. (1993). Does the service meet the needs? An evaluation of consumer satisfaction with specific profile analysis and investigative advice offered by the Scientific Research Advisory Unit of the National Criminal Intelligence Division (CRI)—The Netherlands. Leiden: Netherlands Institute for the Study of Criminality and Law Enforcement. Johnson, J. T., Cain, L. M., Falke, T. L., Hayman, J., & Perillo, E. (1985). The “Barnum effect” revisited: Cognitive and motivational factors in the acceptance of personality descriptions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 49, 1378-1391. Keppel, R. D., & Walter, R. (1999). Profiling killers: A revised classification model for understanding sexual murder. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 43, 417-434. Keppel, R. D., & Weis, J. G. (1993). Improving the investigation of violent crime: The homicide investigation and tracking system. Research in Brief. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice. Kocsis, R. N. (2003a). Criminal psychological profiling: Validities and abilities. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 47, 126-144. Kocsis, R. N. (2003b). An empirical assessment of content in criminal psychological profiles. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 47, 38-47. Kocsis, R. N. (2004a). Profiling the criminal mind: Does it actually work? The Lancet, 364, 14-15. Kocsis, R. N. (2004b). Psychological profiling of serial arson skills: An assessment of skills and accuracy. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 31, 341-361. Kocsis, R. N. (2006). Criminal profiling: Principles and practice. Totowa, NJ: Humana Press. Kocsis, R. N., Cooksey, R. W., & Irwin, H. J. (2002a). Psychological profiling of offender characteristics from crime behaviors in serial rape offences. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 46, 144-169. Kocsis, R. N., Cooksey, R. W., & Irwin, H. J. (2002b). Psychological profiling of sexual murders: An empirical model. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 46, 532-554. Kocsis, R. N., & Hayes, A. F. (2004). Believing is seeing? Investigating the perceived accuracy of criminal psychological profiles. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 48, 149-160. Kocsis, R. N., Hayes, A. F., & Irwin, H. J. (2002). Investigative experience and accuracy in psychological profiling of a violent crime. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 17, 811-823. Kocsis, R. N., & Heller, G. Z. (2004). Believing is seeing II: Beliefs and perceptions of criminal psychological profiles. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 48, 313-329. Kocsis, R. N., Irwin, H. J., Hayes, A. F., & Nunn, R. (2000). Expertise in psychological profiling. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 15, 311-331. Kurz-Milcke, E., & Gigerenzer, G. (2004). Experts in science and society. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum. Lassiter, G. D., Geers, A. L., Munhall, P. J., Ploutz-Snyder, R. J., & Breitenbecher, D. L. (2002). Illusory causation: Why it occurs. Psychological Science, 13, 299-305. Li, R. P., & Thompson, W. R. (1975). The “coup contagion” hypothesis. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 19, 63-88. Lilienfeld, S. O. (2005). The 10 commandments of helping students distinguish science from pseudoscience in psychology. The Observer, 18, 39-51. Lyons, A., & Truzzi, M. (1991). The blue sense: Psychic detectives and crime. New York: Mysterious Press. McCann, J. T. (1992). Criminal personality profiling in the investigation of violent crime: Recent advances and future directions. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 10, 475-481. McCrary, G. O., & Ramsland, K. M. (2003). The unknown darkness: Profiling the predators among us. New York: HarperCollins. Meehl, P. E. (1997). Credentialed persons, credentialed knowledge. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 4, 91-98. Melnyk, T., Bloomfield, S., & Bennell, C. (2007, September). Classifying serial sexual homicide: Validating Keppel and Walter’s (1999) model. Poster session presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Police and Criminal Psychology, Springfield, MA. Milgram, S. (1964). Issues in the study of obedience. American Psychologist, 19, 848-852. Mischel, W. (1968). Personality and assessment. New York: John Wiley. Mokros, A., & Alison, L. (2002). Is offender profiling possible? Testing the predicted homology of crime scene actions and background characteristics in a sample of rapists. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 7, 25-43. Muller, D. A. (2000). Criminal profiling: Real science or just wishful thinking? Homicide Studies, 4, 234-264. Myers, D. G. (2002). Intuition: Its powers and perils. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Nakayama, K. (2004). Observing conspecifics scratching induces a contagion of scratching in Japanese monkeys (Macaca fuscata). Journal of Comparative Psychology, 118, 20-24. Neumann, R., & Strack, F. (2000). “Mood contagion”: The automatic transfer of mood between persons. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 211-223. Nickell, J. (1994). Psychic sleuths. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books. Nickerson, R. S. (1998). Confirmation bias: A ubiquitous phenomenon in many guises. Review of General Psychology, 30, 395-406. O’Keeffe, C., & Alison, L. J. (2000). Rhetoric in “psychic detection.” Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 64, 26-38.
Downloaded from cjb.sagepub.com at COVENTRY UNIV PERIODICALS LIB on January 11, 2013
Ormerod, D. (1996a). The evidential implications of psychological profiling. Criminal Law Review, 717, 863-877. Ormerod, D. (1996b). Psychological profiling. The Journal of Forensic Psychiatry, 7, 341-352. Paulos, J. A. (1988). Innumeracy: Mathematical illiteracy and its consequences. New York: Hill and Wang. Pinizzotto, A. J. (1984). Forensic psychology: Criminal personality profiling. Journal of Police Science and Administration, 12, 32-40. Pinizzotto, A. J., & Finkel, N. J. (1990). Criminal personality profiling: An outcome and process study. Law and Human Behavior, 14, 215-233. Piper-Terry, M. L., & Downey, J. L. (1998). Sex, gullibility, and the Barnum effect. Psychological Reports, 82, 571-576. Plous, S. (1993). The psychology of judgment and decision-making. New York: McGraw-Hill. Pope, K. S., & Vasquez, M. J. T. (2005). Avoiding logical fallacies in psychology. In K. S. Pope (Ed.), How to survive and thrive as a therapist: Information, ideas, and resources for psychologists in practice (pp. 101-107). Washington, DC: American Psychologist. Reimer, T., Mata, R., & Stoecklin, M. (2004). The use of heuristics in persuasion: Deriving cues on source expertise from argument quality. Current Research in Social Psychology, 10, 70-83. Ressler, R. K., Burgess, A. W., Douglas, J. E., Hartman, C. R., & D’Agostino, R. B. (1986). Sexual killers and their victims: Identifying patterns through crime scene analysis. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 1, 288-308. Risinger, D. M., & Loop, J. L. (2002). Three card monte, monty hall, modus operandi and “offender profiling”: Some lessons of modern cognitive science for the law of evidence. Cardozo Law Review, 24, 193-285. Sagan, C. (1996). The demon-haunted world: Science as a candle in the dark. New York: Ballantine Books. Salfati, C. G. (2000). The nature of expressiveness and instrumentality in homicide: Implications for offender profiling. Homicide Studies, 4, 265-293. Salfati, C. G., & Canter, D. V. (1999). Differentiating stranger murders: Profiling offender characteristics from behavioral styles. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 17, 391-406. Santilla, P., Häkkänen, H., Canter, D. V., & Elfgren, T. (2003). Classifying homicide offenders and predicting their characteristics from crime scene behavior. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 44, 107-118. Shermer, M. (2002). Why people believe weird things: Pseudoscience, superstition, and other confusions of our time. New York: Henry Holt. Shermer, M. (2003). The borderlands of science. Where sense meets nonsense. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Simon, H. A. (1990, December 21). A mechanism for social selection and successful altruism. Science, 250, 1665-1668. 16-year search for madman. (1956, December 25). The New York Times, pp. 1, 31. Sjöstedt, G., Långström, N., Sturidsson, K., & Grann, M. (2004). Stability of modus operandi in sexual offending. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 31, 609-623. Snook, B., Eastwood, J., Gendreau, P., Goggin, C., & Cullen, R. M. (2007). Taking stock of criminal profiling: A narrative review and meta-analysis. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 34, 437-453. Snook, B., Haines, A., Taylor, P. J., & Bennell, C. (2007). Criminal profiling belief and use: A survey of Canadian police officer opinion. Canadian Journal of Police and Security Services, 5, 169-179. Snyder, C. R., Larsen, D. L., & Bloom, L. J. (1976). Acceptance of general personality interpretations prior to and after receipt of diagnostic feedback supposedly based on psychological, graphological, and astrological assessment procedures. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 32, 258-265. Snyder, C. R., Shenkel, R. J., & Lowery, C. R. (1977). Acceptance of personality descriptions: The “Barnum effect” and beyond. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 45, 104-114. Sprott, J. B. (1996). Understanding public views of youth crime and the youth justice system. Canadian Journal of Criminology, 38, 271-290. Stack, S. (2000). Media impacts on suicide: A quantitative review of 293 findings. Social Science Quarterly, 81, 957-971. Stanovich, K. E. (1992). How to think straight about psychology. New York: HarperCollins. State v. Fortin, 724 A.2d 818 (N.J. Super. Ct. App.Div. 1999). Sundberg, N. D. (1955). The acceptability of “fake” versus “bona fide” personality test interpretations. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 50, 145-147. Tenten, H. (1989). Offender profiling. In W. Bailey (Ed.), Encyclopedia of police science (pp. 365-376). New York: Garland. Torres, A. N., Boccaccini, M. T., & Miller, H. A. (2006). Perceptions of the validity and utility of criminal profiling among forensic psychologists and psychiatrists. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 37, 51-58. Trager, J., & Brewster, J. (2001). The effectiveness of psychological profiles. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, 16(1), 20-28. Turvey, B. (1999). Criminal profiling: An introduction to behavioral evidence analysis. San Diego, CA: Academic Press. Vyse, S. A. (1997). Believing in magic: The psychology of superstition. London: Oxford University Press. Wallston, K. A. (1983). Problems of generalizing from small samples: Comment on Larde and Clopton. Psychological Reports, 53, 573-574. West, A. G. (2000). Clinical assessment of homicide offenders: The significance of crime scene in offense and offender analysis. Homicide Studies, 4, 219-233. White, P. A. (2003). Making causal judgments from the proportion of conforming instances: The pCl rule. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 29, 710-727.
Downloaded from cjb.sagepub.com at COVENTRY UNIV PERIODICALS LIB on January 11, 2013
Wilson, P., Lincoln, R., & Kocsis, R. (1997). Validity, utility and ethics of profiling for serial violent and sexual offenders. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 4, 1-12. Wiseman, R., West, D., & Stemman, R. (1996). An experimental test of psychic detection. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 61, 34-44. Witkin, G. (1996, April 22). How the FBI paints portraits of the nations most wanted. U.S. News & World Report, 120, 32. Woodhams, J., & Toye, K. (2007). An empirical test of the assumptions of case linkage and offender profiling with serial commercial robberies. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 13, 35-58.
Brent Snook, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and director of the Bounded Rationality and the Law Laboratory at Memorial University of Newfoundland. His research involves the study of bounded rationality and the law. He also researches the use and misuse of psychologically based investigative practices, geographical profiling, offender spatial decision making, and pseudoscience in the criminal justice system. Richard M. Cullen is in the final semester of his MSc and a member of the Bounded Rationality and Law Laboratory at Memorial University. In addition to the evaluation of criminal profiling, his research has focused largely on the rationality debate and its consequences for legal decision making. His thesis involves an examination of the assumption that the field of social psychology has painted an unfavorable picture of human rationality. Craig Bennell, Phd, is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at Carleton University, Canada, where he also acts as director of the Police Research Lab. His research interests include the examination of psychologically based investigative techniques, such as criminal and geographic profiling, the utility of signal detection models for improving police decision making, and the application of cognitive load theory to police training. Paul J. Taylor, PhD, is a senior lecturer in forensic psychology at Lancaster University, United Kingdom, where he directs the Department of Psychology’s postgraduates in investigative expertise. His research examines sense making and strategic choice in crisis environments, particularly in relation to negotiation, where he and his collaborators have addressed issues such as message framing and effective persuasion across cultures. More details appear at http://www.lancs.ac.uk/staff/taylorpj Paul Gendreau, OC, PhD, is a professor emeritus at University of New Brunswick, Saint John, Canada, and a visiting scholar, Division of Criminal Justice, University of Cincinnati, Ohio. His research involves the prediction and treatment of criminal behavior, the effects of prison life, meta-analytic issues, and the assessment of effect sizes.
Criminal Justice and Behavior (CJB) is pleased to offer the opportunity to earn continuing education credits online for this article. Please follow the access instructions below. The cost is $9 per unit, and a credit card number is required for payment. Access for IACFP members: • Go to the IACFP homepage (www.ia4cfp.org) and log in to the site using your email address • Click on the Publications heading in the sidebar on the left-hand side of the page or on the Publications icon at the bottom of the page • Click on the CJB cover image located at the bottom of the page. You will be prompted for your user name and password to log in to the journal • Once you have logged in to CJB, select the appropriate issue and article for which you wish to take the test, then click on the link in the article to be directed to the test (note: only marked articles are eligible for continuing education credits) Access for institutional subscribers: • Log in through your library or university portal to access CJB • Select the appropriate issue and article, then click on the link in the article to be directed to the test (note: only marked articles are eligible for continuing education credits) If you are not a member of the IACFP and your institution does not subscribe to CJB, individual articles (and corresponding test links within the articles) are available on a pay-per-view basis by visiting http://cjb.sagepub.com. However, membership in the IACFP provides you with unlimited access to CJB and many additional membership benefits! Learn more about becoming a member at www.ia4cfp.org. Should you have difficulty accessing this article’s test or the website, please contact Eddie Santos for further assistance at eddie.santos@sagepub.com or 805-410-7528.
Downloaded from cjb.sagepub.com at COVENTRY UNIV PERIODICALS LIB on January 11, 2013
Performing Psychological Autopsies: Procedural Information To put together a sense of the person’s final days and hours, a psychologist might use any number (or all) of the following sources, with the awareness that anyone he or she interviews may contaminate as easily as facilitate the process:
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
Interviews with eyewitnesses or police officers at the scene Medical autopsy reports (which can reveal things about the victim, such as substance abuse, that even close friends did not know) An examination of the death scene, at the scene or via photographs Journals, correspondences or suicide note associated with the victim Type of books the victim read, music preferred or videogames played Behaviour patterns noted by others, especially unusual recent behaviour Records (school, military, phone, employment, medical, psychiatric) History of medication, if any Acquaintance reports (accounts of last encounters or odd incidents) Comparisons against archival data (suicide studies, mental illness and risk prediction for suicide) Empirical Criteria for Determination of Suicide (a 16-item scoring system with a 92% accuracy rate) Reports about conflicted relationships or other stressors (life events that precipitated a loss of hope) Changes in wills or life insurance policies Death history or mental illness in family
To put together a description that will include:
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
Basic info (age, address, gender, marital status, family, occupation, religion, personal interests) Details of death An incident reconstruction Victim’s familiarity with death methods/accessibility Victim’s stress reaction patterns Recent stressors in victim’s life Role of alcohol or drugs in lifestyle Fantasies/dreams/night-time disorders/premonitions Changes in victim’s habits or routines Signs of preparation for ending life Occupational history (successes/failures) Relationship history Assessment of intention and motive How others react to the death (this can be significant, but also misleading)
The final result should be a fairly accurate sense of the victim’s personality, habits and behaviour patterns, specifically including any recent changes. Often the likely manner of death will emerge from these facts. Aside from determining the manner of death, psychological autopsies may serve other purposes as well:
? ? ? ? ? ?
In the event of suicide, determine the triggers In the event of homicide, help with crime reconstruction and block attempts by a defendant to raise the victim’s suicide as a defence Answer questions about testamentary capacity prior to death Post intervention for survivors (helping survivors deal with grief and loss) Gain actuarial information about behaviour, for improving databases Help with expert testimony at trial
Part B of M41PY Coursework – 2013 RESIT Written Case Study: Psychological Autopsy
Account 1 Jumped, Fell or Pushed?
Linda Stangel, headshot In Portland, Oregon, a young couple went drinking one night in 1995, going about their usual routine. As featured on Dateline and in several media reports, David Wahl, 27, and Linda Stangel, 23, had met at work, had quickly become inseparable, and had moved in together into his parents’ home. Linda and David spent most of their free time drinking. “Our relationship was based on alcohol,” she admitted. On November 12 at 3 in the morning, according to Linda, they decided to drive out to the Oregon coast. They went first to a town called Seaside and then drove down to Ecola State Park, arriving mid-morning. This is a rugged area with high cliffs—and can be a dangerous place to go walking after a sleepless night of drinking. More than 300 feet over the ocean, the rocky path has no guardrail. Linda says that while they were sitting in the van, David had decided to take a short walk, saying he would be back in 10 minutes. He wasn’t dressed for much more than that on that brisk morning. He took a can of beer and left. She waited in the car. Ten minutes went by, then 20. Linda grew more frustrated. She says that she fell asleep, then woke up and discovered that David still was not back. She had the car keys, so she decided to just go home. She had no idea why he’d gone off like that, but she was not about to sit there in the cold so she drove back to Portland. She expected a call on the answering machine, she says, so upon arriving back at their rooms, she checked. No call. At about 8 that night she called her sister to tell her what had happened and then called 911. Now she was getting worried. David had been missing for seven hours. Linda’s mother understood. Her own husband, Linda’s father, often did such things after drinking, disappearing for days at a time. She advised Linda to call David’s mother. “I’ve lost David,” she told them. The police, volunteers, and David’s family went to the park, searching the entire area extensively, but there was no sign of David. According to David’s mother, Linda offered no assistance. “It didn’t faze me to be worried,” she said. No one could believe that Linda would have just left him there without a coat. She herself did not think it was that strange. After a week with no luck, she went to be with her family in Minnesota. No one expected that David was still alive. Finally after two weeks, the search was called off. A month later, a headless male corpse washed ashore some 60 miles north in Washington State. In May 1996, a fingerprint and partial jawbone were matched to David Wahl. His death was declared a suicide, with the assumption that he had gone into the ocean, either from the cliff or from the beach, on a day when it was far too cold to be swimming. The Wahls were outraged. They insisted that David would not have done such a thing. At the very least, he had slipped and fallen by accident, but they believed the manner of his death was more sinister. They wanted a full investigation. They asked Linda over and over again what had happened and she stuck to her story. Yet they still
believed she had not told them everything. They knew, because they had lived with this couple, that Linda and David had been fighting a lot and were considering breaking up. David’s sister, Debbie, expressed her belief on Dateline that David was going to break up with Linda that night and that Linda might have pushed him off the cliff to his death. But Linda had left the state, so she was out of reach of the police. When they’d first questioned her, she had taken and had passed a polygraph, so they had not charged her with anything. Now the Clatsop County DA’s office wanted to get her back, so they lured her in July with the premise of a memorial service for David. Linda returned to Oregon, never suspecting a thing. Two detectives came to see her, and they took her back to the park, now eight months after the incident, and asked her to help them reconstruct the events of that day. They had her climb the 340-foot high cliff with them, urging her to tell them what had happened. According to the report on Courttv.com, “investigators suspected that Stangel knew more than she was admitting.” Apparently, they were right. All of a sudden, up there on the cliff, after hours of questioning by the detectives and their encouragement to remember that day, she changed her story. David had come back to the car, she admitted, and they had gone up the trail together to the cliff. They were discussing their relationship. He had “fake-pushed” her to scare her and she had pushed him back, inadvertently causing him to lose his balance in a precarious place, and he had fallen to his death on the rocks below. She had kept quiet about it, fearing she would be blamed. She then repeated all of this on tape, and told it later to the DA. Now David Wahl’s death was being considered accidental. For the moment, anyway. The family was not happy with this and neither was DA Joshua Marquis. manslaughter and bound her over for trial. She pleaded not guilty. He charged Linda with first-degree
Yet at trial, Linda changed her recollection once again. She said that she had made up the story about pushing David because she was afraid of heights and she thought it was the only way to get the officers to let her off the cliff. “Unless I made a statement,” she declared, “I knew I wasn’t getting off that trail. I was scared.”
Richard Ofshe, headshot Her attorney hired sociologist and confession expert Richard Ofshe to tell the jury that her confession was coerced under her extreme fear, and should be considered false. She had retold an incident from Seaside earlier that morning as if it had occurred in the park. The detectives had encouraged her, the defense stated, by reassuring her that if it had been an accident, no one would blame her. Tearfully, Linda retold her original story for the jury and explained why she had made up the second one. They did not buy it. As they saw it, Linda had made no effort to ask anyone if they had seen David and had not considered the consequences of just leaving him there. A man at the park recalled seeing her outside the van, although she said she had never gotten out. Her story just did not add up and she clearly had no trouble lying. On January 16, 1997, they sentenced her to six years in prison for second-degree manslaughter. She got out in February 2003, with three more years on probation. David Wahl’s family expressed their concern that his death had been neither suicide nor accident, but outright homicide. Linda, they believed, had planned it. Given the ambiguous circumstances, the truth may never be known.
Account 2 Linda Stangel was convicted of killing her boyfriend, David Wahl, by recklessly pushing him to his death from a cliff. On November 12, 1995, Wahl disappeared while on a trip with Stangel to the Oregon coast. Several weeks later a body washed up in Washington, which was ultimately identified as Wahl’s. The injuries to the body suggested that his death was caused by a sudden impact, such as falling from an extreme height. Stangel initially told the police that she and Wahl got into a fight. Wahl left to go on a walk by himself around noon at the oceanside Ecola State Park and never came back. She fell asleep in the van for four to five hours. When she awoke, Wahl still had not returned, so she drove the two hours home. Stangel never stopped on the way to seek help in finding Wahl. Finally, at 7:30 p.m., nearly eight hours after Stangel last saw Wahl, she called the police. Stangel moved to Minnesota after Wahl’s death but returned to Oregon in July for Wahl’s memorial service. Police officers Travis Hampton and Alan Corson asked if Stangel would accompany them in an effort to run through the last day Wahl was seen. Stangel wondered why police had not done this sooner and indicated that it was appropriate under the circumstances. The two officers and Stangel retraced the route down the coast, eventually arriving at Ecola Park. At the park, Leo and Ofshe claim the two officers “obliged [Stangel] to walk up the narrow, steadily rising bluff trail” where she “broke down in apparent fear of the cliff edge as they climbed the trail” and confessed to accidentally shoving Wahl off the cliff. The trial judge found a different version of the facts to be credible after hearing testimony directly from officers Hampton and Corson, defendant Stangel, and Richard Ofshe. While sitting in the parking lot with the officers Stangel repeatedly looked over her shoulder toward the cliff. Hampton asked if something happened to Wahl up there, but Stangel did not reply. Hampton asked if there was something she had not told them, but Stangel again did not reply. Hampton asked if she wanted to go up, and Stangel said yes. They proceeded up the cliffside trail, arriving at a viewpoint. Stangel sat down and said she was afraid of heights. Hampton asked if she wanted to go back, but Stangel said no and led the officers further up the trail. When their way was obstructed by a log, Stangel asked Hampton “out of the blue” if hypnosis could help her remember what happened. Hampton asked her to simply explain what happened. Stangel said, “What if I could tell you what happened but not where it happened?” She explained that Wahl came at her, that she was scared, and demonstrated a straight arm push. Hampton told her that she was not guilty of murder if it was truly an accident. He asked Stangel to elaborate, and she laughed and said she made the whole thing up. She was silent, momentarily, and then told Hampton that she was afraid to talk because she would be blamed. Stangel told Hampton that she wanted to continue up the trail. After a short hike, they arrived at a viewpoint without a railing next to a 300 foot drop to the beach below. Stangel told the detectives that this was the place where Wahl fell off the cliff. Stangel and the two officers spent the next fifteen minutes at the viewpoint. Stangel described how Wahl went over the cliff and demonstrated the event by moving the officers into Wahl’s position. Stangel told the officers that she and Wahl had been talking about their relationship. She wanted to end it, but Wahl wanted to continue it. While they were talking, Wahl gave her a slight push to scare her, and it frightened her, even though she was not in fear of going over the edge. She then withdrew herself, yelled “fu*ker,” and pushed him over the edge. In the police car back at the parking lot, the officers took a recorded statement from Stangel. On the day Wahl died, Stangel told him she “was going back to Minnesota” without him. Wahl went to the beach for fifteen minutes, then returned and asked Stangel to go with him up the trail. They walked slowly discussing their relationship, reaching the edge of the “very steep” cliff. Stangel stated: We were talking about our relationship again. Then I’m like just forget about it. And I proceeded to go near the edge of the cliff. And Dave came up behind me . . . And, while we were standing there, he faked pushed me. And I’m afraid of heights, so my natural reaction was to just push him back. I just said, “hey f*r” and pushed him, accidentally. Wahl was “inches,” or “maybe a foot,” from the cliff at the time. Wahl “made this loud, annoying scream” as he fell to his death. Stangel made no attempt to get medical attention for Wahl and was sure he was dead. Stangel then went back to her car for a “couple of hours” and drove home without calling for help. She told everyone, including the police, that Wahl just walked off because “I didn’t want to be accused and there were lots of fingers pointing at me right away.” At 9:00 p.m. the same day, when Stangel was safely back in her hotel room-and presumably no longer needing to “escape the immediate stress of the narrow and terrifying heights” that Leo and Ofshe claim induced the first confession – she waived her Miranda rights and gave another parallel statement. Stangel recounted the same facts leading up to the fatal push and then explained, “He had one hand on my back, one hand like on my stomach. I
mean I’m out there in space and he pretends to push and I freaked. So I pushed him back. . . It was like a get the hell away from me kind of push.” At a suppression hearing, Stangel claimed the confessions were “made up to make these officers happy.” Ofshe testified for the defense as well, relying in significant measure on information from Stangel* to conclude that her fear of heights and the officer’s statement that an accident was not a murder led to a false confession.3 At the conclusion of the hearing, the court advised the parties how it would rule: “I will accept Detective Hampton and Detective Corson’s version of events and find them to be believable and more believable than the defendant.” Similarly, the court concluded, “I do not accept Dr. [sic] Ofshe’s opinions regarding the coercion or the coercive nature of the interrogation. I simply didn’t believe him, and I do believe that Ms. Stangel gave her statements freely and voluntarily, and that the detectives did not coerce her into giving the statement.” At trial, the jury heard from the two officers and from Stangel and Ofshe. During trial, Linda Stangel was caught telling several lies. After hearing all the evidence, the jury did not credit Stangel’s and Ofshe’s testimony and returned a guilty verdict. The jury’s verdict poses a serious methodological issue for Leo and Ofshe. They promise to include in their collection only cases in which the “overwhelming majority” of neutral observers would find the confession to be false. Yet in this case, all twelve jurors unanimously found to the contrary-beyond a reasonable doubt-after hearing directly from Ofshe and after reviewing all of the available evidence. Leo and Ofshe do not suggest that any direct evidence was withheld from the jury, noting only that the indirect evidence that Stangel “passed” a polygraph test was excluded from the trial. Leo and Ofshe appear to be unaware that Oregon law makes polygraph results absolutely inadmissible, and their treatment of Stangel’s allegedly exculpatory polygraph test seems inconsistent with their refusal to credit inculpatory tests in other cases. In any event, the exculpatory polygraph test was an equivocal result from a defective machine – one of its four channels was broken produced in the defendant’s hometown where her mother worked with the police department. All neutral observers in the judicial system in the Stangel case-the judge and the twelve jurors-found the confession was not coerced, and Leo and Ofshe offer no good reason for relitigating and discounting the findings here.
How would you go about doing a psychological autopsy for a case like this? Refer to the guidance in the M41PY Module Guide for completing the case study report (Part B).
This module guide provides you with information about the module, aims and summary, assessment etc. and should be read in conjunction with the Module Descriptor found on the Module Information Directory (MID)
(https://students.coventry.ac.uk/MID/Pages/default.aspx) and also the Module Web.
Aims and Summary The main aims of this module are to introduce students to a selection of applied areas in psychology; to include various psychological theories as they are applied to the area, and examples of types of research that are appropriate to those areas; to provide career information leading to professional practice in those areas. Within each area, students will explore issues of current interest in the field, and develop skills which would be useful to a psychologist practising in the field. Applied areas presented may vary from year to year according to the expertise available within the department but may include occupational psychology, forensic psychology, health psychology, educational psychology, clinical psychology, counselling psychology and developmental psychology.
Module Learning Outcomes The intended learning outcomes are that on completion of this module the student should be able to: 1. Compare/contrast and choose theories to apply to psychological problems of practical significance. 2. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the impact that psychology can have in applied areas of psychology (such as occupational, health, forensic, educational, developmental, clinical, counselling etc) and how these relate to policy; 3. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the challenges of applying psychological principles to practice such as legal and ethical issues. 4. Demonstrate analytical and problem solving skills which can be applied to specific practical issues.
Syllabus Module content will include an overview of the domains in which psychology can be applied, such as occupational psychology, forensic psychology, health psychology, educational psychology, clinical psychology, counselling psychology and developmental psychology. Students will be encouraged to consider possible career options in psychological areas and develop transferable skills relevant to these careers. Students will be encouraged to develop an understanding of the importance of cost-benefit/risk assessment when making decisions regarding interventions and the ethical, logistical and methodological challenges of applying psychology to the real world.
Skill Development
This module specifically focuses on the development of a number of different skills and abilities which are relevant and directly transferable to a number of workplace settings. These skills include:
? Critical analysis and evaluation skills
? Identification of theoretical and methodological issues within research
? The ability to formulate arguments and utilise research evidence to support them
? Report writing skills
Teaching and Learning Methods
Teaching occurs in a weekly two hour block which involves a lecture/seminar, student led discussion and audio-visual material as appropriate. The module will also be supported with CUOnline/Moodle. Attendance is essential at all classes if you are to successfully complete the module. Student activity comprises: 22 hours of lecture/seminar sessions, 28 hours of guided study, and 50 hours of self-guided study
You will be expected to engage in a lot of reading and preparation outside of class. Relying on the lecture and seminar materials only is not advisable when studying at Masters Level; you are not likely to achieve good marks if you do. The module tutors will often refer to additional reading materials (such as relevant book chapters and journal articles) and it is important that you look at these original sources. However, you are also encouraged to develop your skills at locating material additional to that provided by your tutors. The addition of relevant material beyond that given by your tutors will almost certainly improve your marks on assessments and demonstrates an element of independent study and learning.
The module will be delivered on Friday afternoons from 1.00 – 3.00pm in JA141 during Semester 2. There will be a range of lecturers, each with their own personal style. You are encouraged to make your own notes during every session, as not all lecturers will provide lecture notes/PowerPoint slides.
Schedule of Lectures
This module is assessed by a 2000 word case study report. You must achieve a mark of 40% in the coursework in order to pass the module. The specific guidance relating to the assessment is below.
Components are as follows:
% of module mark
Learning outcomes assessed
Submission Date:
Case Study Report
28th March 2014
Specific Assessment Information
The assessment for this module will be in the form of a 2000 word case study report that will form 100% of the module mark. The deadline for this coursework is Friday 28th March at 23:55. You will be required to submit your case study report through turnitin on the M41PY moodle module web. You must achieve a mark of 40% or higher to pass this module.
The case study will be split into two sections:
Introduction to the Module & Assessment
Emma Sleath
Applying Forensic Psychology 1:
Emma Sleath
Applying Forensic Psychology 2:
Offender Profiling & Psychological Autopsy
Emma Sleath
Applying Educational Psychology 1
Andrew Holliman
Applying Educational Psychology 2
Andrew Holliman
Applying Counselling Psychology 1
Tony Lawrence
Applying Counselling Psychology 2
Tony Lawrence
Applying Occupational Psychology 1
Christine Grant + Angie Ingman (guest speaker)
Applying Occupational Psychology 2
Gail Steptoe-Warren
Applying Clinical Psychology 1
Sarah Johnston (guest speaker)
Applying Clinical Psychology 2
Rachael Davies
A. Visual Case Study: Identifying factors that impact upon victim perception in rape cases. (1000 words)
For the first part of the case study, you will be required to view a recreation of the judicial process for a reported rape case. This is available via online digital streaming via CURVE and a link will also be provided on Moodle. This recreation depicts a rape case from the committing of the crime to the court trial process. For this section of the case study, you will need to identify and evaluate how factors identified within the case may have impacted upon the perception of the victim e.g., in relation to credibility, responsibility, blaming.
? Factors can relate to any aspect of the case e.g., case and/or victim characteristics. Stronger answers will focus on a limited number of factors so that sufficient depth of discussion can be achieved.
? Evaluate the evidence that demonstrates these factors can impact upon the perception of the victim. These perceptions are likely to focus (but not limited to) attitudes such as blame, responsibility, and witness credibility.
? Consider how these perceptions may impact on the prosecution of the case.
The focus of this piece of work should be critical evaluation/analysis and you should be able to support your statements/claims with appropriate empirical research literature in order to enhance the credibility of your line of argument throughout the report.
B. Written Case Study: Psychological Autopsy (1000 words)
For this section of the case study, you will be given material/information which describes a case of an equivocal/ambiguous death. This case depicts the death of an individual where the physiological cause of death is clear but the means by which that individual died is not (i.e. was the death caused by a suicide, accident or homicide). To complete this section of the case study, you will need to consider the following aspects:
? How would you perform a psychological autopsy for this case?
? What information would you want to gather to perform a psychological autopsy?
? What information is missing from the case material available?
? What principles/processes do you follow when performing a psychological autopsy?
? What is the research evidence to support the use of psychological autopsy in police investigations?
? How much credence/value should be placed on the results of psychological autopsy in court?
Whilst the focus of this section of the case study should be based on the written case material provided, you can also draw upon other material which may be relevant (i.e. further sourced information which relates to the case in question) in order to enhance your level of argument. The focus of this piece of work should be critical evaluation/analysis and you should be able to support your statements/claims with appropriate empirical research literature in order to enhance the credibility of your line of argument throughout the report. Please note that the aim of this piece of work is not to identify how good you are at performing psychological autopsies, but instead it is about how well you can apply theory and research to a specific case study and how well you can critique the approach within the field of Forensic Psychology.
Instructions and Marking Scheme
Marking Criteria
In order to ensure equity in student assessment the Psychology and Behavioural Sciences Department employs a number of generic marking criteria that are used by all staff marking essays and practical reports submitted as assessment (please refer to Table 5 for a description of the specific Postgraduate Marking Criteria).
HLS Faculty Postgraduate Assessment Marking Criteria
Specific help available
1. During lectures students will receive all the background information relating to the assessment.
2. The reading lists provided in the module guide and in lectures give some help in starting to find appropriate material to accompany the lecture notes in preparation for the phase examination.
3. On-line material is available to support this in Moodle.
Please note that if you are unable to submit coursework or attend an assessment ie. phase test or examination you may be eligible to apply for an extension or a deferral. Please refer to the Extenuating Circumstances guidance for students at the following link:
Plagiarism and Cheating
The University takes very seriously any attempt to cheat in coursework or examinations by any student and if a case is proven this can result in expulsion form the University. Cheating refers to plagiarism, collusion, taking unauthorised materials into an examination (this list is not exhaustive). Please refer to the essential information within your Student Handbook.
Coventry University have adopted the Harvard Referencing System as the standard format for citations and references. There is a Centre for Academic Writing (located next to the library, also see the links on Moodle) which can provide detailed support on the Harvard System. There is also a useful reference guide on the Harvard Style that we advise you to download and keep. This can be found at:

Our Service Charter

  1. Excellent Quality / 100% Plagiarism-Free

    We employ a number of measures to ensure top quality essays. The papers go through a system of quality control prior to delivery. We run plagiarism checks on each paper to ensure that they will be 100% plagiarism-free. So, only clean copies hit customers’ emails. We also never resell the papers completed by our writers. So, once it is checked using a plagiarism checker, the paper will be unique. Speaking of the academic writing standards, we will stick to the assignment brief given by the customer and assign the perfect writer. By saying “the perfect writer” we mean the one having an academic degree in the customer’s study field and positive feedback from other customers.
  2. Free Revisions

    We keep the quality bar of all papers high. But in case you need some extra brilliance to the paper, here’s what to do. First of all, you can choose a top writer. It means that we will assign an expert with a degree in your subject. And secondly, you can rely on our editing services. Our editors will revise your papers, checking whether or not they comply with high standards of academic writing. In addition, editing entails adjusting content if it’s off the topic, adding more sources, refining the language style, and making sure the referencing style is followed.
  3. Confidentiality / 100% No Disclosure

    We make sure that clients’ personal data remains confidential and is not exploited for any purposes beyond those related to our services. We only ask you to provide us with the information that is required to produce the paper according to your writing needs. Please note that the payment info is protected as well. Feel free to refer to the support team for more information about our payment methods. The fact that you used our service is kept secret due to the advanced security standards. So, you can be sure that no one will find out that you got a paper from our writing service.
  4. Money Back Guarantee

    If the writer doesn’t address all the questions on your assignment brief or the delivered paper appears to be off the topic, you can ask for a refund. Or, if it is applicable, you can opt in for free revision within 14-30 days, depending on your paper’s length. The revision or refund request should be sent within 14 days after delivery. The customer gets 100% money-back in case they haven't downloaded the paper. All approved refunds will be returned to the customer’s credit card or Bonus Balance in a form of store credit. Take a note that we will send an extra compensation if the customers goes with a store credit.
  5. 24/7 Customer Support

    We have a support team working 24/7 ready to give your issue concerning the order their immediate attention. If you have any questions about the ordering process, communication with the writer, payment options, feel free to join live chat. Be sure to get a fast response. They can also give you the exact price quote, taking into account the timing, desired academic level of the paper, and the number of pages.

Excellent Quality
Zero Plagiarism
Expert Writers

Instant Quote

Single spaced
approx 275 words per page
Urgency (Less urgent, less costly):
Total Cost: NaN

Get 10% Off on your 1st order!