The fallacy of accuracy in criminal profiling

Wayne Petherick*

*Corresponding author for this work

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

1 Citation (Scopus)


This chapter discusses the fallacy of accuracy in criminal profiling. The fallacy of accuracy encompasses two issues which includes actual accuracy and utility. The success of profiling can be defined as the number of hits scored by profiles. This chapter presents a study, which suggested that of the four groups, profilers had the highest mean number of accurate predictions, with the detectives having the second highest, psychologists the third highest, and students the lowest number of mean accurate predictions. The degree to which a profile helps to catch an offender will also be dictated by the case at hand, with the evidence having a considerable impact. It is observed that if a prime suspect has already been identified, or if there is supporting physical evidence, then it may assist in case resolution despite the involvement of a profiler. It is suggested that consideration of how a profile might be used by the end consumer is paramount to utility.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSerial Crime
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9780123749987
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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