Metacognition in criminal profiling

Barry Woodhouse*, Wayne Petherick

*Corresponding author for this work

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


This chapter represents the comprehensive review of metacognition and how it applies to the field of criminal profiling. Metacognition is recognized as an established concept in cognitive psychology and is defined as one's knowledge and awareness of their cognitive processes. It is suggested that metacognitive deficits are evident when individuals fail to alter their behavior, even in the face of evidence that their thinking strategies lead to poor reasoning. The concept of metacognitive monitoring can aid in explaining the ongoing flaws of thinking evidenced in the profiling community. This cognitive process refers to an individual's ability to reflect on and judge his or her own performance, and is crucial for overcoming a metacognitive deficit. It is found that inexperienced individuals tend not to possess the degree or depth of metacognitive ability necessary for accurate self-assessment compared to their more accomplished peers. It is suggested that metacognitive skills are responsible for the failure to critically evaluate profiles, and by failing to evaluate a profile, a non-expert will assume it to be accurate and insightful.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSerial Crime: Theoretical and Practical Issues in Behavioral Profiling
Number of pages26
ISBN (Print)9780123749987
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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