Criminal Psychology and Forensic Technology
Criminal psychology encompasses a host of related disciplines such as personality theory, forensic psychology, environmental psychology, clinical psychology, and the relatively new field of criminal investigative psychology. While all these fields relate in some way to general psychology, certain segments within each field deal directly with criminality.
Forensic psychologists testify in court as experts on the potential danger that is posed by a defendant. Environmental psychologists study how humans behave in the environment. Criminal investigative psychology is defined as the systematic examination of unsolved crime constituents and the application of scientific methods to supply investigative support to law enforcement.
The main focus of this book is the field of criminal investigative psychology. This process utilizes an applied psychology/ criminology perspective with the aid of multivariate statistical analysis in order to develop practical methods applicable to police investigations. Hence, the criminal investigative psychologist is interested in getting into the offender’s “shoes” rather than his “mind.” The field of criminal investigative psychology is comprised of a broad range of disciplines, with no one dominant field.
Consequently, this book contributes in a variety of ways to the criminal investigative psychological process by bringing together alternative methods for solving crime.
When one thinks of forensic technology, several disciplines immediately come to mind such as medical and forensic detectives that have been made popular by television.
A criminalist who collects and analyzes forensic clues such as blood and semen found at a crime scene is using just one type of forensic technology. However, forensic technology is juxtaposed to many disciplines, including criminal psychology, as this book will demonstrate. Forensic technology is defined in this book as any forensic tool or application that assists in solving crimes.
For example, two alternative forensic tools used in criminal investigations that could complement each other are pollen analysis (palynol-ogy), which is the assessment of pollen grains and spores taken from a pollen sample found on a victim’s clothing, and geographical profiling, which attempts to pinpoint the likely home base of an unknown offender based on relevant crime locations.
For instance, using a geographical profile of the highest probable location for an offender’s home base, pollen samples from the predicted suspect’s home environmental surroundings could be compared to pollen samples taken from the victim’s clothing or from some other evidential source for comparison. So, although articles detailing various forensic techniques and criminal psychology are found in separate chapters, many of the studies are uniquely interwoven, and if used together could form a powerful investigative tool.
Psychology theories are rarely forged with forensic techniques in an effort to solve crimes. One may ask, is this not what profilers do when they subjectively draw a mental picture of an unknown offender? Granted, it is the profiler’s intent to use some aspect of psychology to paint a picture of a likely suspect in a crime.
However, the process of drawing conclusions about an offender’s personality and forensic clues left at a crime scene is based on deduction of past case experiences rather than systematic research. Not until this publication has there been a book devoted exclusively to combining aspects of psychology with forensic technology to solve crimes.
The book will be useful and interesting to social scientists, professionals, and students in the fields of criminology, criminal justice, police studies, psychology, sociology and behavioral studies. From a practical perspective, actual case studies are used to show how specific procedures relate to ongoing police investigations. The broad range of practical information will make Criminal Psychology and Forensic Technology a standard reference book for students of criminology, psychologists, detectives, police officers, and a variety of other types of investigators.
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