CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Friday, November 11, 2005

New Article Spotlight: Are Expert Fingerprint Comparisons "Objective"? An Empirical Study

Here's a very interesting new article.  University of Southampton Profs Itiel E. Dror, David Charlton, and Ailsa E. Péron wrote Contextual Information Renders Experts Vulnerable to Making Erroneous Identifications, which is forthcoming in Forensic Science International.  The abstract: "We investigated whether experts can objectively focus on feature information in fingerprints without being misled by extraneous information, such as context. We took fingerprints that have previously been used to positively identify suspects. Then we presented these same fingerprints again, to the same experts, but gave a context that suggested that they were a no-match, and hence the suspects could not be identified. Within this new context, most of the fingerprint experts made different judgements, thus contradicting their own previous identification decisions. Cognitive aspects involved in biometric identification can explain why fingerprint experts are vulnerable to make erroneous matches."  Paper available here:

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