Contextual information renders experts vulnerable to making erroneous identifications

Forensic Sci Int. 2006 Jan 6;156(1):74-8. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2005.10.017. Epub 2005 Dec 1.


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 examined and assessed by latent print experts to make positive identification of 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 experts are vulnerable to make erroneous identifications.

MeSH terms

  • Bias
  • Decision Making*
  • Dermatoglyphics*
  • Humans
  • Judgment*