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Investigative Psychology: Offender Profiling and the Analysis of Criminal Action

Investigative Psychology: Offender Profiling and the Analysis of Criminal Action

David V. Canter, Donna Youngs

ISBN: 978-0-470-02396-9

Sep 2009

486 pages

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Investigative Psychology is the first academic text for this new strand of psychological science. Throughout, the book is structured according to the operational challenges the research informs. Topics include questions about suspects, linking offences to a common offender, locating an offenders likely home base, and predicting where and when the next offence will be committed. It also provides a comprehensive commentary on the processes central to the effective investigation and successful prosecution of crime.

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PART I The Road to Investigative Psychology.

The Emergence of Investigative Psychology from Offender Profiling.

1 Introducing Investigative Psychology.

Psychology and Investigations.

The Emergence of IP.

Origins in 'Offender Profiling'.

The Investigative Cycle.

Disciplines Drawn On by IP.

Mind the Gap – Bridging Policing and Psychology.

System Integration versus Expert Opinion.

Questions that Investigative Psychologists Ask.

Beyond Crime and Criminals.

Linking Theory and Practice – The Book Ahead.


Further Reading.

Questions for Discussion and Research.

2 Foundations: Description and Classification.

Psychology and Investigations.

Historical Background.

‘Profiling’ Emerges.

The Significance of Inference.

Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling.

3 The Coming of the Informed Detective.

Medical Contributions.

From Fact to Fiction to Fact.

Distinguishing Deduction and Induction.

Reverse Diagnosis.

Serial Killers.

Jack the Ripper.

Beyond Speculation.

4 The Age of Profiling and the Road to Investigative Psychology.

Understanding Criminal Actions.

The Emergence of Investigative Advice.

The FBI Behavioral Science Unit.

The Emergence of Investigative Psychology.

PART II Fundamentals.

A Framework for Studying Criminal Actions and Inferences about Offenders.

5 The Radex of Criminality.

The A - > C Equations.

The Hierarchy of Criminal Variation.

A Model of Criminal Variation.

The Radex of Criminality.

Development and Change.

6 Personal Narratives of Crime.

The Narratives of Criminality.

Empirical Study of Criminal Narratives.

Scripts and Narratives.

7 Finding Action Patterns and Drawing Profiles.

Criminal Actions.


The Basis for Inferences.

An Action System of Crime Differentiation.

The Example of Arson.

Narratives as Action Systems.

Forms of Inference: Towards a Narrative Action System Model of Inference.

8 Criminal Psychogeography.

Modelling Criminals' Use of Space.

The Behavioural Approach and Propinquity.

The Cognitive Approach and Morphology of Crime Locations.

Settings for Personal Narratives.

The Value of Imaginary Maps.

Temporal Changes.

Emotionality, Crime Type and Distance.

Challenges to the Study of Criminal Geography.

Research Agenda.

9 Investigative Information.

The Challenges of Investigative Information.

Weaknesses in Identification and Eyewitness Testimony.

Investigative Interviewing.

Interview Procedures.

The Cognitive Interview.


Research Approach to Investigative Information.

10 Suspect Interviewing and Deception.

The People of the Drama: Explanatory Roles in the Investigation of Crime.

Strengths and Constraints of Investigative Information.


Ekman's IEE Approach.

Psychophysiological Lie Detectors.

The Reid Approach to Interrogation.

False Confessions.

False Allegations.

Written Accounts.

PART III Profiling Criminal Actions.

Models of Offending Behaviour and Applications of Investigative Psychology.

11 Acquisitive Crime.

Differentiating Acquisitive Crime.

Problems with Typologies.


Modelling Burglary.

Offending Styles: A Narrative Action System for Burglary.


Modelling Robbery.

Modelling Fraud.

Differentiating Fraud and Fraudsters.

Narratives of Fraud.

12 Sexual Offences.

The Role of the Victim in Violent Crime.

Strategies for Destruction of the Person.

Differentiating Rape.

Identifying Different Styles of Rape Action.

Characteristics of Rapists.

Sexual Assaults on Males.


13 Murder.


Offending Style in Murder: Understanding the Context of the Encounter.

Contract Murder.

Serial Murder.

Sexual Murder.

Offender Characteristics.

14 Organised Crime.

The Social Nature of Crime.

What is Organised Crime?

Cultural Ideologies and Criminal Networks.

Criminal 'Careers' within Criminal 'Organisations'.

Social Network Analysis.

Destructive Organisational Psychology.

15 Terrorism.

The Great Variety of Terrorism.

Difficulties in Studying Terrorists.

Modes of Terrorism.

Explanations for Terrorism.

Terrorism as Process.

16 Investigative Psychology in Action.

Helping the Police with their Enquiries.

Assessment and Improvement of Investigative Information.

Decision Support Systems.

Dragnet and Other Geographical Profiling Systems.

Linking Cases (Comparative Case Analysis).

Emerging Areas of IP.

Six Fundamentals of IP.

The Wider Reaches of an Investigative Psychology.


Further Reading.

Questions for Discussion and Research.




  • This groundbreaking, definitive text, specially designed to underpin undergraduate and Masters programs, covers the full range of topics now subsumed within Investigative Psychology
  • The book progresses from the origins of Investigative Psychology in Offender Profiling to map out the latest thinking, theories and concepts being advanced by those at the cutting edge of this exciting new sub-discipline focusing on the contributions that psychologists can make to investigations and the legal process through the detailed understanding of criminal action

  • Exercises, Examples, Case studies, Essay questions, Further reading supplied for individual chapters so that a 10 or 20 week lecture course can be built around this first Investigative Psychology Textbook

  • Online student and instructor resources available at