Psychological profiling styles

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Psychological profiling is known to be an effective forensic tool in the criminal justice system and has been used for the last 30 years. Analysis has found that the approach is based on the premise that the attributes of the perpetrator are linked to the act at the scene of the crime. Various analysis focuses on efforts that can establish a consistent and comprehensive basis for developing a sound psychological investigating method. The profiling process includes defining the attributes of the criminal and help the police prioritize a pool of offenders. To make it more effective, psychologists are sometimes called during investigations to analyze the crime indicators based on the traits and characteristics of offenders. There are various types of psychological profiling which are commonly used in the police department including offender profiling, paraphilia profiling, crime scene profiling, DNA profiling, and equivocal profiling. This paper, therefore, discusses 4 key profiling techniques.

Victim profiling

Victim profiling refers to a set of approaches used in predicting the characteristics of an unknown offender through the investigation and analysis of the evidence obtained at the crime scene. As investigators analyze the evidence, they always aim at understanding the demographic, personality, and behavioral characteristics of the person who could have committed the crime (Canter, 2000). During the profiling process, the profiler takes key information including the crime scene status, nature of the weapon found on the scene, and the victim’s testimony. The profiler may also consider the pattern of the crime in a geographical area, mode of entry to crime scene or the exit tactic, and the residence of the suspected offender (Canter, DAlison, Alison, & Wentink, 2004). The key approaches to victim profiling includes crime scene analysis, diagnostic evaluation, geographic profiling, and investigative psychology. Crime analysis approach always relies of the figurative judgment, intuition thoughts and identification of patterns of the crime while diagnostic evaluation solely considers clinical analysis (Canter¸ 2000). Investigative psychology, on the other hand, considers behaviorism in which the behavior of the potential offender is analyzed.

There are various challenges associated with victim profiling including ascertaining its effectiveness since it’s not considered a science, if not done correctly, the process can generate wrong leads which may affect the investigation process (Canter, DAlison, Alison, & Wentink, 2004). Cases of generalization and stereotyping are also common in victim profiling. An example is the possible cloud judgment in a rape case in which the profiler will assume that single men living with their parents are the possible offenders of such crime. This can create a wrong victim profile, especially is the offender is a married man with a family (Canter, DAlison, Alison, & Wentink, 2004). Another problem associated with the profiling technique is the lack of adequate data or inadequate capacity to interpret the data. These factors could result in the identification of an innocent individual as the offender, thus, wrong conviction.

DNA profiling

This is a forensic technique in which a specific DNA pattern or a body fluid sample from an individual is obtained for investigation purposes. DNA of individuals is used due to the uniqueness in the polymorphic structures. The profiling technique is used to identify the origin of a body fluid sample or DNA pattern associated with a crime scene or a particular crime (Canter, DAlison, Alison, & Wentink, 2004). A common technique utilized in the process is polymorshism in which the short tandem repeats (STRs) are examined to obtain the genetic loci for analysis. The profiling samples can be used to identify whether the DNA is from a man or a woman, and can help to determine the particular person whom it belongs (Canter, 2000). The profiling procedure includes first obtaining a DNA sample from the crime scene. DNA is then extracted from the sample by adding chemicals to break the cells and isolate the DNA components. This is then copied in order to obtain various STRs samples for the forensic analysis. A genetic analyser is then expected to determine the size of the STRs in each genetic locus by use of gel electrophoresis; this data can be used to determine an offender of the crime.

Geographical profiling

This is an offender investigative technique which analyzes the location of a connected number of crimes to find out the most likely area where the criminal lives. The process entails determining the location of the offender through the analysis of the base of his criminal activities (Rossmo, 2013). It uses the assumption that criminals could choose their victims and a crime that is centered near their home area. It involves combining the environmental criminology theory, mathematics, and offender spatial behavior research in a profiling software to determine the location of the offender. The software, Rigel, uses the criminal geographic target (CGT) to create a two-dimensional, geo-profile surface overlaid on a street map. The profiling technique prioritizes suspects by using their address data (Rossmo, 2013).

In a case where there are many suspects, geographical profile can aid in managing the information; it can be used to prioritize already obtained records including field interviews, arrest records and jail booking sheets (Rossmo, 2013). The parole information can also be used to place specific data collection tools such as parole cameras and license plate readers to obtain information about vehicles or people passing through an area. It combines quantitative and qualitative methods and helps in understanding behavior of an offender. When this method is used together with offender profiling, it becomes important in investigating serial crimes (Canter, 2000). The method however has limitation which include: It only looks at the spatial behavior of serial criminals, the computer systems cannot analyze all information involved in a crime series and the method may not differentiate multiple offenders operating in the same area.

Offender profiling

This is an investigative tool used by law enforcement agencies to locate probable suspects and scrutinize patterns that that may predict later offences or victims. Its goals are: provide law enforcement with a social and psychological testing and offering proposals and procedures for questioning process. It involves the use of both geographical and typology approaches in identifying the behavior and personality of the offender (Salfati¸ 2000). The typology approach entails identifying whether the crime had been planned beforehand. By identifying whether the crime is organized or disorganized, the FBI are able to build an offender profile which is then based on the characteristics and traits (Canter, 2000). During its operation, it follows the following steps: scrutinizing an offence and comparing it to similar past crimes, looking at victim’s background and activities, checking other motives, describing the likely criminal that can be compared with earlier cases (Salfati¸ 2000). One strength of this approach is the fact that geographic elements are scientific, and it is founded on a psychological theory which provides credibility in the information presented.


Psychological profiling has been a useful instrument in trying to identify criminals who do crimes and take off with the belief that they cannot be caught. Because of how important this profiling is, there is need for the law enforcement agencies to embrace the new technology and try all the level best to apply it. The highlighted profiling techniques can be used to solve cases in which police officers and detectives have been unable to find the offenders. With that, the country and even the world at large will be made a better place for human beings.


Rossmo, D. K. (2013). Geographic profiling. In G. Bruinsma & D. L. Weisburd (Eds.), Encyclopedia of criminology and criminal justice (pp. 1934-1942). New York: Springer.

Canter, D. (2000). Offender profiling and criminal differentiation. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 5, 23-16.

Canter, D. V., Alison, L. J., Alison, E., & Wentink, N. (2004). The organized/disorganized typology of serial murder: Myth or model? Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 10(3), 293-320.

Salfati, C. G. (2000). Profiling homicide: A multidimensional approach. Homicide Studies, 4(3), 265-293.

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