As stated by Bartol and Bartol (2008), investigative psychology is the application of psychological research and principles to the investigation of criminal behavior (Bartol & Bartol, 2008). Investigative psychology is closely associated with criminal profiling, but there are other areas in which a forensic psychologist can participate in this particular subspecialty. An investigative psychologist maybe asked to perform a psychological autopsy, forensic hypnosis, or produce a geographical mapping. Psychological autopsies are generally performed in suspected suicide cases where the insurance company or family member questions the cause of death. Forensic hypnosis is an interview or interrogation method used by trained and credentialed professionals. Lastly, geographic mapping is a method of research “concerned with analyzing spatial patterns of crimes committed by numerous offenders over a period of time (Bartol & Bartol, 2008).” Geographic profiling is the analysis of a single serial offender’s geographic movement.
Due to the complexities of investigative psychology these methods have been scrutinized. In order for these methods to be admissible in a court of law, they must pass the Daubert standard for empirically based evidence. The use of such standards has sparked an array of studies. For example criminal profiling has been under a magnifying glass for several years. Snook et al. (2007) found that there is inadequate empirical evidence that suggest whether criminal profiling is an effective method (Snook, Eastwood, Gendreau, Goggin, & Cullen, 2007). However, Kocsis, Middledorp, and Karpin (2008) reported that expert profilers are more accurate at prediction of unknown offender characteristics than non profilers were (Kocsis, Middledorp, & Karpin, 2008). There have been several court cases that relate to profiling. One case is State v. Parkinson, where the Idaho Appellate Court decided to exclude an FBI sex offender profile. Conversely, Alabama Criminal Court of appeals allowed an FBI profiler to testify about motivational analysis.
If a profiler uses false information in an investigation to delay the apprehension of an offender, the misuse of criminal profiling can produce an ethical predicament. An ethical dilemma such as this speaks to the character of the individual. The Ethical Principles of Psychologist and Code of Conduct, and the Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychologists prohibit psychologist from presenting false information as fact. They also state that psychologist should be able to provide evidence that proves their findings. Ultimately, preventive measures are in place to deter instances like this.
Profiling is not the only method which has generated research and controversy. Forensic hypnosis is another controversial method of investigative psychology that has generated several studies. Braffman and Kirsch (1999) reported that the experiences and responses during...