I'm biased, and I know it! What can we learn from cognitive bias research in forensic science?

C.E. Credits: P.A.C.E. CE Florida CE
Speaker
  • Research Scientist, Special Programs, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Expert Working Group on Human Factors in Forensic DNA Interpretation
    Biography
      Dr Osborne specializes in understanding and improving human factors issues in forensic evidence interpretation and presentation. Her primary research focus has been on the role of contextual information and potential for cognitive and contextual bias and in bloodstain pattern analysis. From this research, she has developed practical methods to manage contextual information for bloodstain pattern analysis in the laboratory and at the crime scene. Dr Osborne has research and teaching experience across many forensic disciplines, including latent print examination, bitemark analysis, and handwriting examination. She is currently contracted to the National Institute of Standards and Technology to support management of the Expert Working Group on Human Factors in Forensic DNA Interpretation. She also facilitates workshops around the world on cognitive bias and contextual information management in forensic science through her sole tradership - Human Factors Training and Consultancy.

    Abstract

    The potential for cognitive bias in forensic evidence interpretation and crime scene investigation continues to receive attention and debate within forensic and academic communities. Starting with just a few studies in the early 2000s, cognitive bias has now been examined in nearly every forensic discipline and is a dedicated topic within many scientific committees and working groups around the world. This presentation will track the progression of cognitive bias studies and their influence on forensic science practice, as well as highlighting the challenges inherent in designing and carrying out such research. We will also examine the benefits to implementing contextual information management, and how rethinking the role of contextual information in forensic decision-making facilitates some much-needed discussion about the true nature of scientific reasoning in forensic science.

    This will be an interactive presentation. Please bring a pen and paper and play along as we challenge some of our own biases!

    Learning Objectives:

    1. Identify the challenges inherent in cognitive bias research as it relates to forensic evidence interpretation

    2. Understand the difference between “bias” and the “application of task-relevant contextual information.”

    3. Recognize the value of contextual information management procedures, regardless of the outcome of cognitive bias studies.


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