Fischler College of Education: Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Abraham S. Fischler College of Education

Advisor

Kendra Gentry

Committee Member

James Nardozzi

Committee Member

Marcelo Castro

Abstract

The objective of this dissertation was to investigate whether media and fictional information that is observed daily can influence perception to build a criminal psychological profile. Staggering between a distinguished art and science, the term profiling has been known by several different names – including criminal profiling, psychological profiling, offender profiling and more. Bandura (2009) believed that exposure to television and other media feeds into a socially constructed reality, where the audience is inevitably influenced by the beliefs and cognitions of observed media. The researcher believed that exposure to media can either influence criminal profiling and investigations with increasing accuracy or encourage perpetuated stereotypes. Kocsis, Hayes, and Irwin (2002) suggested that increased exposure to crime dramas creates a bias that decreases profile accuracy. The researcher examined the knowledge and perceptions of profiling and the crime scene examination skills of approximately 119 law enforcement professionals both active and retired at the local, state, and federal levels as well as college students to determine if these theories were accurate. This dissertation examines the literature on profiling and how it aids in criminal investigations for law enforcement officers, as well as in risk assessments for psychologists, approaches, and legal admissibility in courts. The data explores the reactions of exposure to media and crime television shows in relation to criminal psychological profiling, as well as the ability to accurately profile a crime and an offender based on the skills needed, specifically objective reasoning. The participants were asked questions utilizing a questionnaire to determine their exposure to crime related television shows and fictional media, and their views on profiling. The participants were then given a case scenario and asked to provide a criminal psychological profile based on the information given in the case paired with completing the Profiling Offender Characteristics Questionnaire adapted from Kocsis et al. (2000). Active and retired law enforcement professionals as well as college students seemed to agree on the belief that criminal profiling can be influenced by fictional and non-fictional media. The researcher found in a regression analysis that media consumption influenced the ability for participants to accurately create a criminal profile. This research contributes to the field of crime and media because it aids in law enforcement training, as well as criminal justice and psychology studies to ensure time and resources are invested correctly – ensuring that individuals are creating a criminal profile that will not have law enforcement searching for the wrong offender. The results of this study expound on previous profiling research leading to the determination if profiling should continue to be considered as a viable tool.

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