Lecture 2 (May 10 )
Criminal profiler: psychological consultant or investigator who examines evidence from crime
scenes, victims and witnesses
o Retroclassification – goal: to constrict accurate profile/description of perpetrator
o Draws inferences about perpetrator’s personality, behaviour and motivation
o Normally, success rate is very low
Techniques pioneered by FBIs “Behavioural Science Unit”, Quantico, Virginia, 1970s
o Relatively new – only 40 years or so
Want to be a criminal profiler?
Few criminal profiling jobs
o Approximately 12 in the U.S., maybe one in Canada
Training controlled by law-enforcement in the US and Canada
o Psychology has very little to do with a criminal profiling background
Profilers mostly psychologists in UK and Netherlands
Expert testimony not admissible at trial – does not meet court standards
o The key attribute necessary to be a good profiler is judgment – a judgment based primarily
on the analysis of facts and figures, but on instinct...(Douglas & Olshaker, 1997, p15)
Why Develop Profiles?
To Solve mis-matches
o Between physical information from crime scene with characteristics of specific suspect
Pregnant wife & 2 young children brutally clubbed and stabbed
Cyril Wecht: Physical evidence fit, psychological profile did not
To overcome false stereotypes/simplified assumptions about...
o Motives: Why criminals do what they do?
Edmund Kemper (very smart serial killer, IQ of 136)
Ted Bundy – charming man who is able to talk extremely well, can lie well
Just because they say something, does not necessarily mean it’s true
“it’s what they know best”
BTK – claims that he was possessed and had not control over his actions
Do they ever take personal responsibility for their murders? Do they blame something?
o i.e. Ted Bundy blamed pornography
o Personality Types – murder? Rape? Fraud?
o Backgrounds – impoverished backgrounds or broken homes?
Interviews with 36 male murderers
Less than 50% from largely “intact” families (some dysfunctionality)
IQ scores: 20% less than 90, 50% within normal range, 30% greater than
Divorce tends not to be a problem unless parents of children constantly
o However, there are many other variables that stem from divorce,
such as a poor socioeconomic status Stereotypes about Crime Statistics
#1 criminal killer in Canada = impaired driving
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
o Individuals between the ages of 1-34 – impaired driving is the leading cause of death
o It is the 8 leading cause amongst all ages
Impaired driving: 74,331 (charges laid) in 2002
o 94% classified as operating a vehicle with a BAC over 80mg
Sexual Assault: 22,136 (less than 6% of sexual assaults reported)
Arson: 13,504 (deaths unknown)
Homicides: 605 (25% involved firearms, 22% knives, 9% blunt instrument, 27% other)
Profiling: Which Crimes?
Rape, homicide, arson, serial bombing
o Serial crimes!
o Can classify crimes by behaviour or motive
Arsonists – few caught, few witnesses, little evidence
o Classification by behaviour
Serial arson: greater than or equal to 3 fires at different times, emotional cooling
off period, and targets are random
Spree arson: greater than or equal to 3 fires in succession, no cooling off period
Mass arson: greater than or equal to 3 fires in same location in limited period
i.e. in a building, setting fires to different floors, etc.
Organized arsonists: set fires after stress trigger, planned, methodical, target
Disorganized arsonists: opportunists, target random, more evidence than organized
Spur of the moment – not much planning
o Classification by motive
Vandalism, profit, excitement, revenge, crime concealment
o Profile – “young white male – loner with history of problems” (p.73)
Know which classification is most popular for arsonists (motive or behaviour – look
What is a criminal profile?
“...biographical sketch of behavioural patterns, trends and tendencies”
o Personality and motivations of offender
o Sex, age, race
o Sometimes called sociopsychological profile
Jack the Ripper: First Modern Example
person who conducted autopsies on his victim came up with a profile of Jack the Ripper
o “A man of great physical strength” (because he subdued his victims easily – deductive
o “A man of great coolness and daring” (crimes were committed in public places)
o “...likely to be a quiet, inoffensive looking man, probably middle aged and neatly and
respectably dressed” (because he did not call attention to self) o “...habit of wearing a cloak or overcoat” (because hid blood on clothes and hands)
o “solitary and eccentric...without regular occupation” (Because too corrupt to interact with
others) (although this one is probably false – people like Ted Bundy)
Three Approaches to Criminal Profiling
1. Profiling historical and political figures (look in text)
2. Profiling offenders common characteristics
o Similarities in personalities, backgrounds and behaviours of offenders across similar crimes –
o E.g.) Miss Marple – similarity in crimes = similarity in offender characteristics
(un)reliability of self-reports
Childhood abuse not reliable predicto