Investigative Psychology: The Latest Science on Offender Profiling & Linking Serial Crimes

Investigative Psychology: The Latest Science on Offender Profiling & Linking Serial Crimes
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Module 1
Recorded on: 2021-05-27
Unit 1 Slide Deck: Investigative Psychology
Unit 2 Transcript: Investigative Psychology
Unit 3 Workbook: Investigative Psychology
Unit 4 Recording: Investigative Psychology

Apart from the forensic science, another aspect of investigation that people find fascinating is the psychology behind it – it’s the type of capabilities that solve some of the most complex cases in history and make for really detailed and interesting crime documentaries. This webinar delves into investigative psychology by looking into offenders’ behavior and its practical use to criminal investigation.

This session’s instructor is C. Gabrielle Salfati, a professor of Psychology and the Director of the Investigative Psychology Research Unit (IPRU) at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Her career has been devoted to initiatives that advance the fields of law enforcement and mental health through developments in research and training.

Points she tackled in this course are:

  • Defining the field of investigative psychology and the tenets it encompasses.
  • A brief review of investigative psychology’s history – the lack of empirical basis in crime analysis prior to Investigative Psychology and the efforts to make the field more evidence-based using the methodologies and approaches of Investigative Psychology.
  • The limitations of forensic evidence in terms of identifying an offender and how Investigative Psychology can fill these gaps.
  • The value in looking at the crime scene from a behavioral standpoint.
  • Creating a classification system of offenders based on different indicators within the crime scene.
  • Looking at commonality, specificity, and differentiation to understand differences between individuals to pick the most important information that can provide actual insights about the behaviors committed by the offender.
  • Looking into the consistency of offenders’ behavior, the manifestation of behavior, reliability of the behavior to match, and factors that may influence behavior to distinguish which crimes are part of a series.
  • Dissecting a case study of multiple rape incidents with different victims and determining whether it is a serial crime based on the offender’s behavior.
  • Using psychological themes to reveal the similar psychological concept behind crimes despite seemingly different actions/behaviors of the offender.
  • An overview of a study that categorized offenders based on how they engaged with the victim.
  • Unpacking a case study of different types of crimes committed in a succession of days and deciding whether these are actually a series.
  • Understanding a crime series as a trajectory in cases where there could be changes in the offenders’ criminal behavior over time and finding the consistency in the inconsistencies.
  • Analyzing cases of serial murder among sex workers and the linkage blindness that occur when those involved are unaware of the best indicators to link crimes and unable to identify serial crimes.
  • How focusing on a specific aspect of the crime scene results in finding consistencies in things initially thought to be inconsistent.
  • Reviewing differences and similarities in serial offenders, how they engage with their victims across cultures, and other circumstances in these serial rape-and-murder cases.
  • The concept of offender profiling which looks into actions in the crime scene and other investigative procedures to identify the characteristics of the offender.
  • An offender profiling review that examined various studies across the world which was able to confirm evidence-based patterns confirming reliability of offender profiling.

Questions from the audience are about:

  • Whether investigative psychology has been adapted to the cognitive psychology era.
  • How to best apply investigative psychology to sex trafficking cases.
  • Integrating forensic science tools with behavioral evidence/investigative psychology.
  • How statistical linking and behavioral analysis/investigative psychology work together in offender profiling.
  • Evidence-based tools or software to help with the profiling process


Other Webinars with this Speaker:


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Resources and Handouts


Audience Comments

  • “That psychology is branching off into new territory that will hopefully be useful in solving and preventing crime.” — Victoria
  • “I don’t know where to start…so many!  The resources at the end are great! I started looking them over even before the webinar had actually ended. 🙂 Thank you!” — Sheryl
  • “The topic was perfect. It’s hard to find information in this field given how nascent it is.” — Shanika
  • “Not only was Dr. Salfati’s information informative but the questions from the listeners were also informative. I value different perspectives and the latest ideas being considered in research.” — Michelle
  • “This webinar actually expanded my level of thinking and analyzing crimes and criminal behavior. Very informative thank you!” — Marisol
  • “That some agencies are using artificial intelligence to help with the profiling and the linking. Also behavioral patterns might change with the behavioral analysis part of the offender. I agree with the empirical research. I found this to be very informative because I’m also in the field of psychology. This was an excellent presentation we’ll listen to it over and over again.” — Marc
  • “I really enjoyed learning about the similarities and differences between offenders culturally.” — Kayla
  • “I enjoyed the speaker and appreciated the breadth of literature discussed.” — Joy
  • “Outstanding. Presenter was dynamic, the slides were engaging, I would give the presentation a five-star review for how well it was crafted.” — Jill
  • “Excellent information delivered in a realistic and modern approach by a fantastic presenter!” — Floyd
  • “What a great presenter! Kept it interesting and very knowledgeable.” — Christine
  • “The presenter truly is a fount of knowledge! I appreciated her ability to present in a logical, understandable manner. Thank you!” — Barbara
  • “This was a great webinar full of useful information for my current assignment. The supporting handouts will be very useful and assist in pointing me to needed information and others with the same interest.” — Billy


Additional Resources
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