Induction and deduction in criminal profiling

Date of this Version


Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Details

Citation only.

Petherick, W. (2009). Induction and deduction in criminal profiling. In W. Petherick (Ed.), Serial crime: Theoretical and practical issues in behavioral profiling (pp. 17-38). Burlington, MA: Elsevier Academic Press.

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1st edition: The nature of induction and deduction in criminal profiling: 2006 HERDC submission. FoR code: 1602

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Literature on criminal profiling has reached a considerable volume, including not only a quantity of true crime works but also numerous scholarly texts and articles. The casual reader will be familiar with some aspects of profiling, with the more discerning reader being familiar with the steps involved in the profiling process (Holmes & Holmes, 2002; Ressler, Burgess, & Douglas, 1988; Turvey, 2008), the so-called "inputs" and "outputs" of a criminal profile (Davis, 1999, Egger, 1999; Geberth, 1996; Ressler & Burgess, 1985; Ressler et al., 1988), and the personality and grandiosity of profilers (see a variety of memoirs, such as Canter, 1994; Douglas & Olshaker, 1996, 1997, 1998; and Ressler & Shachtman, 1992).

However, beyond a few works (Petherick, 2006; Turvey, 2008) there has been less written in any valid way about the logical processes employed by the profiler when drawing conclusions about the offender. This chapter provides an in-depth examination of the two main approaches used by profilers to arrive at their conclusions: induction and deduction. First, a general commentary of the logic of criminal profiling is provided, followed by a detailed discussion of induction and deduction, illustrating the fundamental differences between the two forms of reasoning. Finally, a hypothetical case scenario highlights the procedural aspects of how hypotheses are generated and a deductive conclusion is drawn.

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