ppsychological profiling | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Criminal Investigations

Psychological profiling is a criminal investigative technique that uses behavioral and psychological characteristics to identify and apprehend criminal suspects and is considered ethical as it focuses on the individual’s behavior and actions rather than their race or ethnicity.

Psychological profiling, also known as offender profiling, involves the analysis of crime scene evidence, victimology, and other factors to develop a profile of the likely offender. This profile can then be used to narrow the field of suspects and provide investigators with useful information about the offender’s personality, motivations, and potential future behavior.

Unlike racial profiling, which is based solely on a person’s race or ethnicity and can lead to unfair and discriminatory treatment, psychological profiling focuses on the behavior and actions of the individual. This approach is considered ethical as it does not discriminate against individuals based on their race or ethnicity and is based on scientific and empirical evidence.

Moreover, psychological profiling can be an effective tool in criminal investigations, as it can help investigators identify suspects who may not fit the typical demographic or physical characteristics of an offender. This can lead to more accurate identifications and reduce the risk of wrongful convictions based on faulty assumptions or biases.

However, psychological profiling is not without its limitations and criticisms. Some experts argue that the techniques used in profiling are not scientifically sound and may be subject to biases and errors. Additionally, there is a risk that profiling can become too focused on specific characteristics or traits, leading investigators to overlook other important evidence or suspects.

To address these concerns, it is essential that psychological profiling is used in conjunction with other investigative techniques and that it is subject to rigorous scientific testing and validation. Furthermore, it is important that investigators are trained in the proper use of profiling techniques and that they are aware of the limitations and potential pitfalls of this approach.

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Last Modified: 03/13/2023


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