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Validities and Abilities in Criminal Profiling: A Critique of the Studies Conducted by Richard Kocsis and His Colleagues

NCJ Number
International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology Volume: 50 Issue: 3 Dated: June 2006 Pages: 344-360
Craig Bennell; Natalie J. Jones; Paul J. Taylor; Brent Snook
Date Published
June 2006
17 pages
This article reviews the recent research of Kocsis and colleagues and calls into question their conclusions regarding the factors related to proficiency in criminal profiling.
Several criticisms are outlined of the research and conclusions of Kocsis and his colleagues. The criticisms focus on: (1) how the researchers measured and compared profiling accuracy across the sampled groups, and (2) how they analyzed and interpreted their data. Key criticisms relate to the way in which certain items on the questionnaires are open to interpretation by both the participants and the investigator and the degree of subjective interpretation required to complete some of the questions regarding the offender’s motives and thoughts. The authors illustrate how the form of analysis conducted by Kocsis created a bias in favor of certain groups, namely the professional profilers and the students. Finally, the authors assert that, in fact, no valid conclusions can be drawn about important profiling skills without an assessment of each group’s representative skills. Other criticisms focus on the number of professional profilers sampled, the time limits imposed on the different groups, and the degree of interaction between the groups. The authors focused their criticisms on the four major conclusions that Kocsis and his colleagues drew from their research over the past 4 years, which were: (1) professional profilers had greater numbers of correct profiling predictions when compared to police officers, students, psychics, and psychologists; (2) the poor performance of police personnel did not support the asserted importance of investigative experience as a key skill necessary for proficient profiling; (3) the capacity for logical reasoning was crucial to success in profiling, evidenced by the fact that students outperformed psychologists in the profiling task; and (4) the data provided little support for the use of psychics in generating the characteristics of an unknown offender. Recommendations for future research are offered and focus on research accuracy, skills, and validity. Table, notes, references


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