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Comparative Decision Making$
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Thomas R. Zentall and Philip H. Crowley

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199856800

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199856800.001.0001

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Forensic Judgment and Decision Making

Forensic Judgment and Decision Making

Chapter:
(p.385) Chapter 13 Forensic Judgment and Decision Making
Source:
Comparative Decision Making
Author(s):

Peter A. F. Fraser-Mackenzie

Rebecca E. Bucht

Itiel E. Dror

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199856800.003.0038

This chapter describes the decision making process by forensic experts. Forensic testimony is generally considered more reliable than most other forms of evidence and plays a key role in establishing guilt or innocence. Despite exaggerations in the media, automated, computerized methods are of limited capability and require experts to make judgment calls at various steps. Abductive reasoning is often required, perhaps inviting confirmation bias, particularly with decision making often based on reaching weight-of-evidence thresholds. Forensic scientists are expected to help find a conclusive outcome rather than the probabilistic one more compatible with scientific reasoning, and the need for rapid closure can lead to decisions based on incomplete data. Yet the interpretation of bottom-up information based on top-down information may lead to distortions, as in any type of data-driven decision making. Many of the same biases and difficulties that undermine human reasoning in other contexts reappear here too.

Keywords:   forensic testimony, decision making, judgment calls, abductive reasoning, confirmation bias, distortion

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