The added value of behavioural information in crime scene investigations

Rosina H.D. de Roo, Madeleine de Gruijter, Christianne J. de Poot, Josita C.M. Limborgh, Paul van den Hoven

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Forensic and behavioural science are often seen as two different disciplines. However, there is a growing realization that the two disciplines should be more strongly integrated. Incorporating psychological theories on human behaviour in forensic science could help solving investigative problems, especially at the crime scene. At the crime scene it is not just about applying scientific methods to analyse traces; these traces must first be perceived and categorized as relevant. At the crime scene, the behavioural perspective of an investigative psychologist could play an important role. In this study, we examine to what extent (1) investigative psychologists detect deviant behavioural cues compared to forensic examiners when investigating a crime scene, (2) forensic examiners can find the relevant traces that can be associated with this behaviour and (3) the availability of a psychological report highlighting these behavioural cues helps forensic examiners in finding more relevant traces. To this end, a total of 14 investigative psychologists and 40 forensic examiners investigated a virtual 3D mock crime scene. The results of this study show that investigative psychologists see significantly more deviant behavioural cues than forensic examiners, and that forensic examiners who receive a psychological report on these cues recognize and collect significantly more traces that can be linked to deviant behaviour and have a high evidential value than examiners who did not receive this information. However, the study also demonstrates that behavioural information is likely to be ignored when it contradicts existing beliefs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100290
Number of pages18
JournalForensic Science International: Synergy
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2022


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