Identifying fingerprint expertise

Tangen, Jason M., Thompson, Matthew B. and McCarthy, Duncan J. (2011) Identifying fingerprint expertise. Psychological Science, 22 6: 995-997. doi:10.1177/0956797611414729

Author Tangen, Jason M.
Thompson, Matthew B.
McCarthy, Duncan J.
Title Identifying fingerprint expertise
Journal name Psychological Science   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0956-7976
Publication date 2011-07-01
Year available 2011
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1177/0956797611414729
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 22
Issue 6
Start page 995
End page 997
Total pages 4
Place of publication Thousand Oaks, CA, United States
Publisher Sage Publications
Language eng
Subject 3200 Psychology
Abstract “CSI”-style TV shows give the impression that fingerprint identification is fully automated. In reality, when a fingerprint is found at a crime scene, it is a human examiner who is faced with the task of identifying the person who left the print—a task that falls squarely in the domain of psychology. The difficulty is that no properly controlled experiments have been conducted on fingerprint examiners’ accuracy in identifying perpetrators (Loftus & Cole, 2004), even though fingerprints have been used in criminal courts for more than 100 years. Examiners have even claimed to be infallible (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1984). However, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences has recently condemned these claims as scientifically implausible, reporting that faulty analyses may be contributing to wrongful convictions of innocent people (National Research Council, Committee on Identifying the Needs of the Forensic Science Community, 2009). Proficiency tests of fingerprint examiners and previous studies of examiners’ performance have not adequately addressed the issue of accuracy, and they been heavily criticized for (among other things) failing to include large, counterbalanced samples of targets and distractors for which the ground truth is known (see Cole, 2008, and Vokey, Tangen, & Cole, 2009). Thus, it is not clear what these tests say about the proficiency of fingerprint examiners, if they say anything at all. Researchers at the National Academy of Sciences and elsewhere (e.g., Saks & Koehler, 2005; Spinney, 2010) have argued that there is an urgent need to develop objective measures of accuracy in fingerprint identification. Here we present such data.
Keyword Psychology, Multidisciplinary
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes OnlineFirst published online before print July 1, 2011. Published under 'Short Report'.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2012 Collection
School of Psychology Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 48 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 41 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Wed, 20 Jul 2011, 02:56:20 EST by Dr Jason Tangen on behalf of School of Psychology