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Criminal Profiling: Does it Really Work? Essay

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Criminal profiling has become a very popular and controversial topic. Profiling is used in many different ways to identify a suspect or offender in a criminal investigation. “Criminal profiling is the process of using behavioral and scientific evidence left at a crime scene to make inferences about the offender, including inferences about personality characteristics and psychopathology” (Torres, Boccaccini, & Miller, 2006, p. 51). “The science of profiling rests on two foundation blocks, basic forensic science and empirical behavioral research. Forensic science includes blood spatter analysis, crime scene reconstruction, and autopsy evidence. Empirical behavioral research identifies offender typologies, relates crime behaviors to suspect identifiers, and determines base rates” (Cook & Hinman, 1999, p. 239). Criminal profiling is the main subject of many books, television shows, and movies for entertainment purposes, which is why it is typically more fiction than fact. I think that this could be a logical reason as to why criminal profiling is so widely used and why it is largely misunderstood and misinterpreted. Movies and television shows portray criminal profiling as 100% accurate and widely accepted. Profiling is typically shown in cases that involve violent crimes such as murder and rape. Contrary to popular belief, criminal profiling is applied to every type of crime not just murder (Bartol & Bartol, 2012). Most of the studies conducted about criminal profiling focus of those of violent criminals (Cook & Hinman, 1999). With that said, criminal profiling of serial killers has intrigued people more than any other investigative technique. I believe this is because people find murderers more interesting than thieves. The entertai...


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...oi:10.1177/0306624X02239273
Kocsis, R. N. (2003). Criminal psychological profiling: Validities and abilities. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 47(2), 126-144. doi:10.1177/0306624X03251092
Pinizzotto, A. J., & Finkel, N. J. (1990). Criminal personality profiling: An outcome and process study. Law And Human Behavior, 14(3), 215-233. doi:10.1007/BF01352750
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(4), 437-453. doi:10.1177/0093854806296925
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(1), 51-58. doi:10.1037/0735-7028.37.1.51



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