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Recently, a method of offender profiling has emerged from the area of investigative psychology (Canter, 2000). This approach places a focus on empirical research and logical inference as opposed to investigative experience. In contrast to the approach used in the FBI which emphasises vague subjective processes such as thinking like the criminal, investigative psychology stresses that a profiling should aim to identify the extent to which an offender displays various tested characteristics (Canter, 2004). A central aim of such offender profiling research is determining behaviourally important and empirically supported information regarding the consistency and variability of the behaviour of serial murderers. It is also important to establish valid and reliable methods of distinguishing between offenders and between offences (Canter, 2004)

Already the use of statistical techniques such as multi-dimensional scaling in offender profiling has provided support for a theoretical distinctions between homicide offenders as either instrumental (43% of offenders) or expressive (31% of offenders) in their use of aggression (Salfati & Canter, 1999). This method of analysis has also expanded upon the original theoretical distinction by identifying sub-themes of aggressive action which can be used to further discriminate amongst offenders (Santilla, Hakkanen, Canter & Elfgren, 2003). These behavioural themes have also been linked to background characteristics and post-offence behaviours, demonstrating their usefulness to the investigation of serial murder cases (Santilla et al., 2003). The development and application of these techniques to serial offenders is likely to facilitate an increase in the validity of offender profiling of serial murderers (Alison & Canter, 1999).

See Also

Source Articles

Alison, L., & Canter, D. (1999). “Profiling in Policy and Practice”, in Canter, D. & Alison, L. (1999). Profiling in Policy and Practice. Aldershot, UK: Darthmouth, pp. 3-22.

Canter, D. (2004). Offender Profiling and Investigative Psychology. Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling, 1: 1-15.

Canter, D. (2000). Offender Profiling and Psychological Differentiation. Journal of Criminal and Legal Psychology, 5: 23-46.

Salfati, G., & Canter, D. (1999). Differentiating Stranger Murders: Profiling Offender Characteristics from Behavioral Styles. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 17: 391-406.

Santilla, P., Hakkanen, H., Canter, D., & Elfgren, T. (2003). Classifying homicide offenders and predicting their characteristics from crime scene behavior. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 44: 107-118.

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