The Investigative Psychology Research Unit is currently conducting research projects in the following main areas:
Linking Serial Violent Crime
Behavioral linkage analysis is the process of determining that multiple crimes have been committed by the same perpetrator (i.e. constitute part of a series) based on behavioral similarities across those crimes. The extent to which behavioral linking is feasible relies on two key hypotheses, both of which must be supported in order to conclude that behavioral crime linking is a valid and reliable investigative technique: (a) the individual differentiation hypothesis which states that the offenses of one offender will be distinctively different from offenses of other offenders, and (b) the consistency hypothesis which states that a degree of identifiable behavioral similarity across offense series will be evident. Current IPRU research in this area, therefore, focuses on two main goals: First, to identify the most appropriate unit of analysis that can be used to reliably differentiate crime scenes of different offenders. Our studies focus on empirically testing various crime scene classification schemes and understanding the factors that may influence offender’s behaviors, such as the type of victim and the situational aspects of the crime. The second goal is to understand how consistency of this unit of analysis is manifested across crimes. The key methodological issue that we focus on is how to operationally define consistency to be able to fully capture the dynamic nature of behavioral patterns across crimes. For more information please see our publications.
Homicides Involving Prostitutes (HIP) Project
The HIP project focuses on homicides involving prostitutes and sex workers. Data on solved and unsolved single, as well as serial, homicides of sex workers are being collected from public media sources (e.g., newspapers) worldwide, and coding is currently underway. This project aims to improve our understanding of the distinct behavioral patterns and types of offenders who exclusively target this high risk victim group, as well as our understanding of how victimization of prostitutes fits within a generalized pattern of non-target specific violence. Issues of solvability and behavioral linkage are also being examined. For more information please see our presentations section.
Homicide and Rape Profiling Index (HPI-R©) Project
The HPI-R project is linked to the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and FBI Behavioral Science Unit Collaborative Research Project. Researchers first undergo intensive training on our lab-created and validated coding dictionary, the Homicide & Rape Profiling Index (HPI-R, 2011). This coding dictionary is used in the IPRU for data collection from archived police case files. Once the training is completed, researchers work independently to code police case files and collect data to be used for research projects within the IPRU.
If you would like more information or are interested in training, please see HPI-R Training.
Sex Offender Profiling (SOP) Project
The SOP project is an interdisciplinary project looking at the relationship between behavioral crime analysis (i.e. offender profiling) and risk assessment of sex offenders. This project aims to combine the knowledge base from both of these fields in order to refine their core principles and improve upon both processes. Issues of behavioral consistency, salience, and outcome prediction are also addressed. Read More
Profiling in Court (PIC) Project
The PIC project looks at the decisions surrounding expert testimony on or related to profiling and linkage analysis, particularly in cases involving violent interpersonal crime, and the potential impact of the testimony. Additional factors, such as background of the expert and the way in which the testimony is presented are also being explored. For more information please see our presentations section.