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Despite its apparent popularity, criminal personality profiling has been poorly evaluated as either an investigative aid or a conceptual tool. This article documents some aspects of the development of offender profiling. Importantly, it identifies and differentiates the different styles of profiling and their distinct conceptual orientations. The literature is also reviewed to extract what conclusions can be drawn with respect to the validity, utility and ethics of offender profiles in criminal investigations and what this may mean for psychology, psychiatry and the law in general.