Importance of Psychological Profiling to Forensic Science


Psychological profiling in the context of forensic science refers to the process of analyzing, inducing, deducing, and putting together of available information to for the purpose of extracting and deducing behavioral patterns of crime offenders based on similar circumstances that have been studied in the past. The process helps investigators describe the kind of offenders they are seeking for. Criminal’s psychological profile can be reveal basic information like their habits, marital status, psychological problems, employment, and personality traits.


Psychological profiling began in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Behavioral Science Unit in the year 1960 for the purpose of understanding criminal behaviors. First used in the pursuit of serial killers, it was later applied to the investigation of tampering of products, serial bombing, rape, kidnapping, arson, and other forms of crime. The effectiveness of the method was first proven in the case of Richard Trenton Chase in the year 1978. Chase murdered a woman and drank her blood. After intensive profiling of all evidences and observations seen on the crime scene, the investigators were able to plot his appearance and behavior, and predicted the possibility that he will kill again. Three days later, Chase did murder three more people. When he was found, Chase did look as how the profilers suggested.

Brief Description of how the method is done

A psychological profile is constructed by integrating evidences found on the crime scene with psychological theory. A profiler must have access to all the available information relating to the crime like physical evidence, witness statements, photographs, and autopsy findings. The investigator also studies the victim dig facts of his/her relationship to the offender, the motivation to commit the crime, and the personality of the offender. The investigator also studies the modus operandi of the offender. Psychological Profiling further supported the theory that there are three types of offenders: organized, disorganized, and mixed offenders.


The accuracy of the method is affected by some factors: the amount of background information provided, traits patterns, how the profiler assessed and weighs information of recent crimes, and information of crimes with similar circumstances in the past. For instance, changes in the pattern of criminals’ behaviors gradually changes through some circumstances. The effect of some changes makes it harder to trace its similarities to similar circumstances in the past. In some cases, some investigators thinking might be overwhelmed by the recent circumstance which in turn makes him put less significance to previous circumstances. For a profiler to be effective, he/she should see things objectively.