Who Are Criminal Profilers? Rebecca Wiltshire Colby-Sawyer College Criminal profilers mix both the world of psychology with criminal justice. The field itself is fairly new and often time’s profilers don't always agree on methodology or even terminology. The term "profiling" is popular among the public because of media interoperations such as “The Silence of the Lambs” and “Criminal Minds”. However the FBI calls its form of profiling “criminal investigative analysis”; another profiler, a prominent forensic psychologist, calls his work “investigative psychology”; and another calls his “crime action profiling” only further proving the lack of agreement in terminology (8).
When it comes to identifying criminals, there are many approaches that help the police identify perpetrators of serious crimes. There are different techniques or approaches that can be used when it comes to profiling, as these different techniques can provide different types of information about the perpetrator. These approaches include; the US (top-down) approach, the British (bottom-up) approach and geographical profiling. Profiling began with the FBI in the 1970s. They began researching backgrounds, personalities and behaviours etc with sexual aspects to serial killers.
One of the many doctors to introduce the Biological Theory of Crime was Cesare Lombroso. Mr. Lombroso felt that if a person was born with certain physical characteristics that he or she was bound for criminal behavior. Lombroso described criminals as “a retarded species and as ‘individual mutations or natural accidents living among civilized humans”, “distinctive physical features, such as protruding jaws, sloping foreheads, left-handedness, and red hair” ( Fagin 2003) were among some of the top features of his study. Could one imagine what it would be like in this era to be considered a criminal for such physical features? Due to having these physical features ones predisposition for a criminal lifestyle was somewhat automatic.
The frontal lobes control motor function, problem solving, judgment, impulse control, and social behavior and when damage is inflicted upon this area, an individual is affected in the way they react and think due to the cognitive impairment. Individuals who have suffered TBI may engage in crime because of these cognitive impairments. They have lower levels of cognitive skills that interferes with their understanding of what is right and what is wrong. The lack of understanding on how criminal behavior cultivates has lead numerous researchers to study criminals who have suffered from a form of TBI in order to have their questions answered. The researchers in this literature review focused mainly on self-reported brain injury in violent offenders as a way to determine the correlation between brain injury and crime.
Discuss approaches to profiling There are three approaches to criminal profiling; the British approach, the US approach and Geographical Profiling. The US approach is a top down approach which means they start with the big parts of the case and work down to the smaller things involved. The approach was invented by the FBI in the 1970’s when they first looked at the family backgrounds, personalities, behaviours, crimes and motives of serial killers who had sexual aspects to their crimes. They then went on to use in-depth interviews with 36 serial killers. The information they gathered from this and the FBI’s experience and intuition they developed the classification system.
Describe and Evaluate the use of Laboratory Experiments in Criminal Psychology (12 marks) Laboratory experiments are used in Criminal Psychology to isolate and observe the effect of one variable on others, thus establishing a cause and effect relationship. For example, if the presence of a weapon in a crime causes an eyewitness to focus on that rather than other factors of the crime. This may effect eyewitness reliability. The dependent variable can be strictly measured, providing quantitative data. For example, in Loftus experiments on eye witness testimony the participants were asked to say if there was broken glass present or not.
Offender profiling is the establishing of a hypothesis to identify a criminal via examining the evidence accumulated from a crime scene, this helps authorities narrow down searches for individuals with traits that correlate with signatures of the crime, one such noted profiler was Robert Ressler. In discussing the FBI approach to offender profiling, it is essential to draw focus on the methodology developed by Ressler and how it is utilised by authorities in addition to its strengths and limitations. In this context offender profiling is used when examining crimes involving serial murders of a sexual nature. The FBI profile emerges from stages, the process begins with what is termed the Assimilation Stage. Evidence of the crime scene is obtained, this would include photographs or an in person examining of the scene, a profile of the victim (including their pathology reports), witness statements and DNA analyses of the victim and the offender.
There are many theories relating to deviance and crime with each theory illustrating a different aspect of the procedure by which people break rules and are classed as deviants or criminals. (New texts pg 138) which highlights the problems in defining crime or deviance. DIFFERENCES BETWEEN CRIME AND DEVIANCE Many believe crime and deviance has developed on separate tracks over the years as criminologist serve only for legality, crime and crime-related phenomena. The study of deviance however serves for a wider range of behaviours that are not necessarily illegal for example suicide, alcoholism, homosexuality, mentally disordered behaviours. (Bader et al) The main difference between crime and deviance is deviant behaviour is when a social norm has been broken whereas a crime is where a formal and social norm is broken.
With much of the past research focusing on those with criminal records, new research has come to examine and include psychopathic personality traits of persons in non forensic settings. Specifically for this purpose, a shorter version of the PCL-R is being used called The Psychopathy Checklist Screening Version (PCL: SV). The Psychopathy Checklist-Revised Introduction Cleckley (1941) saw psychopathic features as being based in personality traits more than in behavioral characteristics hence his definition of a successful psychopath, one who does not necessarily engage in the behavioral aspect of psychopathy. Hare, on the other hand, focused his assessment measures on the criminal behavior characteristics of psychopathy impulsiveness and aggression (Akobeng, 2007). Building on research done by Cleckley, Hare (1991) advanced the study and diagnosis of psychopathy by creating a new
The Positivist School theory explains crime in the sense that people are destined to be criminals based on factors outside their control. It says that juvenile delinquency is a selective phenomenon, and that it does not occur spontaneously. Cesare Lombroso, an Italian medical doctor who published Criminal Man, studied the physical sizes of the heads of criminals. Lombroso concluded that persons born with larger heads were likely to engage in the life of criminality. Lombroso also says that criminals were products of heridty, and that physical appearance is a telling factor whether certain people would be predisposed to criminality.