Profiling the Profilers: An Exploratory Analysis

Bernadette Olson, Washington State University

This research sets out to determine whether variations between educational and professional backgrounds of those in the business of profiling yield markedly different profiling practices and outcomes. If this proves to be the case, it would give credence to the evolution of a specific research program designed to train and educate those working in the field in the most efficacious methods. Regardless of the label given to a particular type of profiling - crime scene profiling, geographic profiling, psychological profiling - all have in common the goal of making some useful inference about an individual's personality or behavior. Much of profiling practice rests on the assumption that at least certain offenders possess consistent behavioral traits. This consistency is thought to persist from crime to crime and also affect various noncriminal aspects of their personality and lifestyle, thus making them, at least to some extent, identifiable. There is enough research to suggest that profiling may have sufficient reliability and validity to be useful for some purposes, however, there has been little empirical study of the abilities that mark proficient profilers.

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Updated 05/20/2006