Skip to content

Psychometric analysis of forensic examiner behavior

Journal: Behaviormetrika
Published: 2020
Primary Author: Amanda Luby
Secondary Authors: Anjali Mazumber, Brian Junker
Research Area: Latent Print

Forensic science often involves the comparison of crime-scene evidence to a known-source sample to determine if the evidence and the reference sample came from the same source. Even as forensic analysis tools become increasingly objective and automated, final source identifications are often left to individual examiners’ interpretation of the evidence. Each source identification relies on judgements about the features and quality of the crime-scene evidence that may vary from one examiner to the next. The current approach to characterizing uncertainty in examiners’ decision-making has largely centered around the calculation of error rates aggregated across examiners and identification tasks, without taking into account these variations in behavior. We propose a new approach using IRT and IRT-like models to account for differences among examiners and additionally account for the varying difficulty among source identification tasks. In particular, we survey some recent advances (Luby 2019a) in the application of Bayesian psychometric models, including simple Rasch models as well as more elaborate decision tree models, to fingerprint examiner behavior.

Related Resources

Commentary on Curley et al. Assessing cognitive bias in forensic decisions: a review and outlook

Commentary on Curley et al. Assessing cognitive bias in forensic decisions: a review and outlook

In their recent critical review titled “Assessing Cognitive Bias in Forensic Decisions: A Review and Outlook,” Curley et al. (1) offer a confused and incomplete discussion of “task relevance” in…
A Survey of Fingerprint Examiners' Attitudes towards Probabilistic Reporting

A Survey of Fingerprint Examiners' Attitudes towards Probabilistic Reporting

This CSAFE webinar was held on September 22, 2021. Presenter: Simon Cole University of California, Irvine Presentation Description: Over the past decade, with increasing scientific scrutiny on forensic reporting practices,…
Latent print quality in blind proficiency testing: Using quality metrics to examine laboratory performance

Latent print quality in blind proficiency testing: Using quality metrics to examine laboratory performance

Calls for blind proficiency testing in forensic science disciplines intensified following the 2009 National Academy of Sciences report and were echoed in the 2016 report by the President’s Council of…
CSAFE 2021 Field Update

CSAFE 2021 Field Update

The 2021 Field Update was held June 14, 2021, and served as the closing to the first year of CSAFE 2.0. CSAFE brought together researchers, forensic science partners and interested…