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In Search of Indicators of Detective Aptitude: Police Recruits’ Logical Reasoning and Ability to Generate Investigative Hypotheses

Journal article
Authors Ivar Fahsing
Karl Ask
Published in Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology
Volume 33
Issue 1
Pages 21-34
ISSN 0882-0783
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Psychology
Pages 21-34
Language en
Links doi.org/10.1007/s11896-017-9231-3
Keywords Criminal investigation Decision-making Reasoning Cognitive ability
Subject categories Psychology, Applied Psychology

Abstract

Previous psychological research on criminal investigation has not systematically addressed the role of deductive and inductive reasoning skills in decision-making in detectives. This study examined the relationship between these skills derived from a cognitive ability test used for police recruitment and test scores from an investigative reasoning skills task (Fahsing and Ask 2016). Newly recruited students at the Norwegian Police University College (N = 166) were presented with two semi-fictitious missing-person cases and were asked to report all relevant hypotheses and necessary investigative actions in each case. The quality of participants’ responses was gauged by comparison with a gold standard established by a panel of senior police experts. The scores from the deductive and inductive reasoning test were not related to participants’ performance on the investigative reasoning task. However, the presence or absence of an investigative “tipping-point” (i.e. arrest decision) in the two cases was systematically associated with participants’ ability to generate investigative hypotheses. Methodological limitations and implications for police recruitment and criminal investigative practice are discussed.

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