skip navigation

Justinfo Subscribe to Stay Informed

Add your conference to our Justice Events calendar


NCJRS Abstract


Subscribe to Stay Informed
Want to be in the know? JUSTINFO is a biweekly e-newsletter containing information about new publications, events, training, funding opportunities, and Web-based resources available from the NCJRS Federal sponsors. Sign up to get JUSTINFO in your inbox.

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Library collection.
To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the NCJRS Abstracts Database.

How to Obtain Documents
NCJ Number: NCJ 220977     Find in a Library
Title: Does Contextual Information Affect Expert Opinions?: Recent Research
  Document URL: HTML 
Author(s): Angela Lack
Date Published: 07/2006
Page Count: 3
  Annotation: This article details study determining if contextual information affects expert opinions.
Abstract: This study reveals that fingerprint examiners using the generally accepted method of latent print identification, ACE-V which stands for: analysis, comparison, evaluation, and verification, are vulnerable to irrelevant and misleading contextual influences. Dr. Itiel Dror of the University of Southhampton and his colleagues set out to prove that context does affect the outcomes; they concluded that their “findings of inconsistent identification decisions may reflect cognitive flaws and limitations in conducting objective and independent processing of the information,” and calls for further research to examine these issues in greater depth. Although the study was conducted with only five fingerprint examiners, it was the first conducted in the real world conditions of the criminal justice system; four out of five of the fingerprint examiners in the study changed their prior identifications. Dr. Dror’s study used the background of the fingerprint found in the Madrid train bombing to create the context. On March 11, 2004, as a pretext, Dr. Dror asked several examiners to analyze the prints from a mistaken identity case derived from a fingerprint collected at the Madrid bomb scene, the Brandon Mayfield case. The study was designed to provide empirical data on whether fingerprint experts were susceptible to extraneous contextual influences when working in normal routines and environments. Five fingerprint experts were selected from an international pool of volunteers from fingerprint bureaus, agencies, and laboratories all over the world. According to Dror’s study, emotional context and subliminal messages increased the likelihood of match judgments when fingerprints were ambiguous, thus concluding that contextual information actively biases the way gaps are filled. When fingerprints were clearly not a match, the same contextual information did not influence the participants to conclude that a match existed. The National Institute of Justice will fund six future fingerprint studies. References
Main Term(s): Evidence identification and analysis ; Evidence technicians ; Technical experts
Index Term(s): Fingerprints ; Expert witnesses ; Investigations
Type: Issue Overview
Country: United States of America
Language: English
Note: Downloaded December 20, 2007
  To cite this abstract, use the following link:

* A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's web site is provided.