Behavioral consistency, the homology assumption, and the problems of induction

Wayne Petherick*, Claire Ferguson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter discusses the behavioral consistency, the homology assumption, and the problems of induction. There are essentially two types of consistency that are important to the application of profiling knowledge. The first is that an offender will show consistency between his or her noncriminal and criminal actions. The second type of consistency, and the subject of considerably more study in criminal profiling, is that a criminal will behave consistently across the offenses he or she commits. Inductive profiling, as a means of forming theories, is both necessary and useful, but using it as the sole basis for developing conclusions is improper. A major problem with induction related to consistency and homology is the reliance on trait descriptions of the offender. Three generations of risk assessment practices have been identified that have presumably come about because of changes in the way the risk assessment process is perceived and practiced. It is found that with inductive methods, case linkage rests almost entirely on the assumption of behavioral consistency, which suggests that offenders who commit two or more crimes will behave similarly, or consistently, among their various offenses.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSerial Crime
Number of pages28
ISBN (Print)9780123749987
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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