Alternative Methods of Criminal Profiling

Wayne A. Petherick, Brent E. Turvey*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingOther chapter contributionResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The application of the scientific method creates two different types of knowledge: idiographic and nomothetic. Nomothetic (group) study results in knowledge about the characteristics of groups, which is not only useful but also necessary when trying to define groups, solve group-related problems, or generate initial theories about issues in specific cases. Nomothetic offender profiles, therefore, are characteristics developed by studying groups of offenders. There are four main types of nomothetic profiling: criminal investigative analysis (CIA), diagnostic evaluation (DE), investigative psychology (IP), and geographic profiling. The FBI's profiling method, CIA, is the most commonly known nomothetic method of criminal profiling. Diagnostic evaluations are not a single profiling method or representatives of a unified approach. They are services offered by medical and mental-health professionals who rely on clinical experience when giving profiling opinions about offenders, crime scenes, or victims. DE profiles are commonly offered as a footnote to primary reports, such as mental-health evaluations, personality inventories, or autopsy findings. IP purports to cover all aspects of psychology that are relevant to the conduct of criminal and civil investigations. It involves research on various offender groups. Commonly, the result is a profile that is more or less a literature review of published studies examining ostensibly similar cases. Geographic profiling focuses on determining the likely location of the offender's home, place of work, or some other anchor point. It assumes that an offender's home, or other locations the offender is familiar with, can be determined from the crime locations. It is based on theories and assumptions built from group studies of offenders that do not necessarily hold true in individual cases.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCriminal Profiling
EditorsB E Turvey
Number of pages33
ISBN (Print)9780123852434
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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