Offender Profiling:

HideShow resource information

The FBI top down approach was created in the 1970’s, when the FBI began researching family backgrounds, personalities, behaviours, crimes and motives of serial killers, they concluded this evidence once they had interviewed 36 convicted murderers. Then, based on their findings they developed a classification system for offenders and their serial crimes. Firstly, they organised the system into two groups; the first group was ‘organised murderers’ and the second was ‘unorganised murderers’ and from then on, they designed each step that linked to the two main criteria of organised and unorganised. For example, if the serial offender was highly intelligent and socially competent they would fall under the organised category and if the serial offender had lower intelligence and was socially incompetent, he would fall under the unorganised category. This approach is intended to help the police catch offenders before they offend again by determining the type of person that may have committed the crime and the characteristics they may have, helping the FBI to stop them before they can continue/ carry out another offence. The approach doesn’t include information such as the mental processes and personality traits that drive the offenders, therefore the profiling is often ambigious and unreliable.                 

            One limitation of the FBI approach is that it is not sophisticated enough to deal with crimes that include more than one offence like arson and paedophilia, it has the capability to deal with the one offence, like **** at one time. Although, with this said, the approach has been used to great effectiveness when Douglas (Chief of police) reviewed the costs and benefits of profiling for the FBI, he found that in 77% of all the cases, profiling helped focus the investigation and help find the offenders. However, a criticism of this is that profiling rarely led directly to the offender. It only happened in 15/172 cases. One problem with the classification system is that the rarity of such crimes meant that the original sample of 36 murderers they used to conduct the evidence weren’t large, neither was it random and therefore this sample may have been biased as it cannot be generalised to all murderers, as only 36 murderers were sampled. Following on from this, another weakness that can be seen is that the classification is based upon those offenders who have been caught which would seem to differ in major ways from


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Criminological and Forensic Psychology resources »