Umbrella term that refers to a scientific approach designed to improve our understanding of criminal behavior and the investigative process.
Investigative psychologist studies fall into three broad categories
1) the nature of the offender behavior
2) the social psychology of group crime and terrorism
3) cognitive psychology of investigative decision making by law enforcement investigators
Profiling is a technique that tries to identify the behavioral, cognitive, emotional, and demographic characteristics of a person based on information gathered from a wide range of sources.
Crime scene profiling
The development of a rough behavioral or psychological sketch of an offender based on clues identified at the crime scene. Also may be referred to as offender profiling.
Crime scene profiler tries to predict…
Characteristics and habits of the offender and where and how the person’s next crime may occur, assuming that another crime will be committed
Case linkage analysis (CLA)
Method of identifying crimes that are likely to have been committed by the same offender because of similarities across the crimes.
The tendency to look for evidence that confirms one’s preexisting expectations or beliefs.
There seems to be a tendency for some police investigators to interpret ambiguous information sometimes contained within profiles to fit their own biases about the case or the suspect
Focuses on the location of the crime and how it relates to the residence or base of operations of the offender. Assumes that serial offenders prefer to commit their crimes near their own residences.
Concerned with analyzing the spatial patterns of crimes committed by numerous offenders over a period of time.
Focuses on identifying the “hot spots” of certain types of crimes.
Geographical profiling’s connection to psychology
Can be connected to psychological principles
- Such as the need to operate within one’s comfort zone or the desire to commit crime as far away from one’s home as possible
The process of collecting data on behavioral, personality, cognitive, and demographic data on previous offenders in an attempt to identify other offenders. Often used to detect drug trafficking and terrorism-related criminal activity.
The suspect-based profile summarizes the psychological features of persons who may commit a crime based on features of past individuals who have committed similar crime
The gathering of information on a known individual who poses a threat or is believed to be dangerous.
In some cases, the identity of the individual is unknown
Concerned with predicting future violence or other undesirable actions targeted at specific individuals or institutions after an expressed threat has been communicated.
Used to determine if an actual, expressed threat is likely to be carried out
A systematic process of evaluating the likelihood that a person will engage in dangerous behavior, even though the person has not made a direct or implied threat.
Used to determine if a person is dangerous to self or to others
Primarily undertaken in an effort to make a reasonable determination of what may have been in the mind of the deceased person leading up to and at the time of death - particularly if the death appears to be a suicide.
Person’s mental state prior to death
An equivocal death is one where the manner of death is unknown or undetermined —> believed that 5% to 20% of all deaths are equivocal
Suicide psychological autopsy (SPA)
Goal —> identify and understand the psychosocial factors that contributed to the suicide
Equivocal death psychological autopsy (EDPA)
Goal —> clarify the manner (or mode) of death and to determine the reasons for the death
Five generally accepted manners of death
Natural, accident, suicide, homicide, and undetermined
Most troubling aspects of eyewitness identification
Approximately 1 out of every 4 witnesses shown a lineup selected the wrong person
Reconstructive theory of memory
Perspective that memory is continually vulnerable to revision.
Pertain to potential sources of eyewitness error that are beyond the control of the criminal justice system.
Ex: stress levels experienced by the witness during the crime
Originally defined as variables in eyewitness identifications that influence the accuracy of eyewitness identifications over which justice system has (or can exert) control.
Ex: feedback from an investigator administering a lineup
Occurs when a person seen in one situation is confused with a person seen in another situation.
Own-race bias (ORB)
The tendency of people to be able to discriminate between faces of their own race better than those of others races.
Research findings that people are more accurate in recognizing persons of their own race.
Weapon focus (or Weapon effect)
Refers to the concentration of a victim’s or witness’s attention at a threatening object while paying less attention to other details and events of a crime
Differential experience hypothesis
States that individuals will have greater familiarity or experience with members of their own race and will thus - in identification procedures - be better able to discern differences among members of their own race.
- Most popular explanation for ORB and CRE
A live or photo lineup in which a witness views individuals all at once, such as standing in a row or in a photo array.
A live or photo lineup in which a witness views individuals in a series, requiring the witness to decide on whether to identify one individual before moving on to another. Compare with simultaneous lineup.
Characteristic of a police lineup that unfairly encourages a witness to identify the suspect in custody (e.g., no lineup members approximate the suspect’s age).
The phenomenon that once a witness commits to a certain viewpoint, such as identification of a face, the witness is less likely to change their mind.
Identification procedure in which police present a single suspect to the eyewitness(es) to see if the person or persons will identify that individual as the perpetrator. Typically but not always followed by a lineup procedure, where the suspect appears with foils.
The predominant method used by law enforcement in the United States to interview and interrogate criminal suspects.
Major interrogation techniques
Rapport and relationship building
- Show kindness and respect
- Conduct the interrogation in a small room
- Interrogate the suspect while very stressed
Confrontation and competition
- Threaten suspect with consequences for non-cooperation
- Make bargain with suspect
Presentation of evidence
- Bluff or bait suspect about supposed evidence of involvement in crime
In police interrogation, an aggressive questioning procedure that assumes the suspect is responsible for a criminal offense and has the goal of obtaining a confession.
Best represented by the Reid method
A method of police interviewing and interrogation that does not presume guilt on the part of the person being questioned, but rather seeks to obtain information about events surrounding a crime.
Steps of the Reid method
Custody and isolation
Courts have allowed police to lie or trick suspects, such as by pretending they have eyewitness testimony or evidence that does not exist.
- Referred to as bait questioning
Admissions of guilt that are not valid and are often but not necessarily induced by coercive interrogation procedures.
Voluntary false confessions
Confessions to crimes one did not commit, offered without coercion by others such as police or family members.
Coerced-compliant false confessions
Admissions of guilt most likely to occur after prolonged and intense interrogation experiences, such as when sleep deprivation is a feature. The suspect, in desperation to avoid further discomfort, admits to the crime even knowing that they are innocent.
Compliance is a form of conformity in which we change our public behavior - but not our private beliefs or attitudes - to appease other people or reduce social pressure or threats from others
Coerced-internalized false confessions
These occur when innocent persons - who are tired, confused, and highly psychologically vulnerable - come to believe that they actually committed the crime.
Internalization refers to changes in our private thoughts or beliefs that occurs because we sincerely believe in the issue or perspective
Three basic processes involved in deception
During police interviewing and interrogation, this refers to the cognitive demands placed on the interviewee, with the premise that this will make it more difficult for the interviewee to be deceptive. An example would be asking the person to recount events of the past day in reverse order of when they occurred.