What Is Psychological Profiling?

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  • Written By: S. Ejim
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 25 September 2019
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Psychological profiling is a type of criminal science that is utilized in investigations to find out the reasons why some criminals commit certain types of crimes. Another reason for utilizing psychological profiling in investigations is to make deductions regarding the behavior of an offender and the possible background of the offender. This type of profiling is done in conjunction with other aspects of criminal investigation with a view to moving the investigation in the right direction.

The process of psychological profiling can be either deductive or inductive. The inductive method of psychological profiling is done by drawing assumptions based on the belief that people who commit certain types of crimes have backgrounds that are somewhat similar. For instance, when a serial killer targets only a certain class of people, some assumptions can be made regarding the possible background of the type of person who is likely to commit such an offense. This assumption might increase if the killer exhibits certain characteristics, such a removing something that belongs to the victim or leaving something at the scene of the crime. Such attributes of a crime might allow some deductions to be made regarding the group to which the criminal likely belongs.


Deductive psychological profiling is a more targeted method that involves a more intense study of the offender as a person, including a study of the crime scene to find out any telltale signs that will reveal the motives behind the crime. For instance, if a criminal leaves some personal effects at the crime scene, then the assumption can be made that the crime might have been somewhat unplanned and that the criminal had been in some haste. Such details make a huge difference in the slant of an investigation and in the subsequent trial and sentencing of a criminal. A well-planned crime is indicative of premeditation, and a messy crime scene might indicate a lack of premeditation.

When studying the backgrounds of offenders during psychological profiling, a lot of emphasis is placed on the result of previous research in relation to the crime at hand. For instance, in some cases, sadistic offenders might be driven by abuse they might have suffered in the past. The abuse could be psychological, sexual or physical, as in the case of severe beatings and torture. Others might have shown sadistic behavior from their childhood, such as torturing small animals and exhibiting other forms of deviant behavior towards people.


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