We are a group of researchers investigating human factors and cognitive issues in forensic identification and their solutions (e.g., Linear Sequential Unmasking (LSU)). This applied area of cognitive forensics bring together a number of domains in human information processing in which we specialize within cognitive psychology. These domains include pattern recognition, mental representations, decision making, expertise, visual cognition, and knowledge acquisition. These areas all converge together in the applied domains of biometrics and the criminal justice system. Other areas of interest to us which are vital for biometric and forensic applications are the use and integration of technology and selection & training of examiners; including issues of confirmation & other cognitive biases, and optimizing decision making. We have taken our expertise in these areas and our understanding of human performance & cognition and have applied them to real world issues (not only in forensic science, but in many other expert domains, such as medicine, frontline policing, and US Air Force pilots).
Dr. Itiel Dror has received the 2014 ABP (Association for Business Psychology) Annual Award for 'Excellence in Training' for his work in improving decision making and reducing bias in forensic science, and was the Chair of the OSAC Forensic Human Factors Committee of the US Department of Justice (DoJ) & National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Dr Dror is also a member of the AAAS (The American Association for the Advancement of Science) Advisory Committee on Forensic Science Assessment (a project in which the AAAS will conduct an analysis of the underlying scientific bases for the forensic tools and methods currently used in the criminal justice system).
Watch a BBC's Newsnight interview with Dr. Dror on fingerprint identification reliability and error, or see PBS 'Frontline' TV (USA) "Can Unconscious Bias Undermine Fingerprint Analysis?"
See a general paper on 'forensic labs explore blind testing to prevent errors - evidence examiners get practical about fighting cognitive bias' that appeared in Science, or 'ignorance is bliss' that appeared in The Economist, or 'the fine print' that appeared in Nature, or a brief to the Houses of Parliament.
See a variety of Practical Solutions as well as a specific policy of Linear Sequential Unmasking (LSU) to deal with biases in forensic science work.
For more technical articles, see 'Context Management Toolbox: A Linear Sequential Unmasking (LSU) Approach for Minimizing Cognitive Bias in Forensic Decision Making' or 'Meta-Analytically Quantifying the Reliability and Biasability of Forensic Experts' that appeared in the Journal of Forensic Sciences, and 'Cognitive Issues in Fingerprint Analysis: Inter-and Intra-expert Consistency and the Effect of a Target Comparison' that appeared in the journal Forensic Science International.
Through Cognitive Consultants International (CCI-HQ) we have provided training (including online training) and consultancy to forensic examiners on how to deal with and minimize confirmation and other cognitive biases (e.g., to police forces and national forensic institutes in the Netherland, Finland and Australia, as well as to police forces in the US and the UK, such as the London Metropolitan Police, Greater Manchester Police, NYPD, SFPD, LAPD, and the FBI). We have also provided expert reports and testimony on these issues to courts in a number of countries (working for the prosecution and for the defence), and to legislators (e.g., MD Senate hearings on Bill 404 regarding Criminal Law –Death Penalty– Evidence). We provided consultancy to the UK Passport and Identity Services on reducing fraud detection through facial recognition. Dr Itiel Dror is an Associate Editor and on the Board of Editors of a number of scientific journals, such as Science & Justice, Forensic Science Policy & Management, and Pragmatics & Cognition. His research has been cited throughout the National Academy of Sciences report on Forensic Science (2009), theFingerprint Enquiry Report, and in dozens of court cases (e.g., by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, in the case of Commonwealth vs. Gambora, 2010; by the Court of Appeal in the UK, in the cases of R v Dlugosz, Pickering, and MDS, 2013).
For a paper that focuses on the use of technology, see 'The use of technology in human expert domains: Challenges and risks arising from the use of automated fingerprint identification systems in forensics', that appeared in the journal Law, Probability and Risk.
Recently much has been happening on both sides of the Atlantic in taking on the issue of cognitive factors in forensic work. In the UK, the Government Chief Scientific Adviser Annual Report includes a Chapter about Cognitive and Human Factors, the UK Forensic Regulator issued guidance on Cognitive Bias, and the UK Houses of Parliament brief on Forensic Investigations. In the US, the National Commission on Forensic Science has voted to adopt a document on 'Ensuring That Forensic Analysis is Based Upon Task-Relevant Information'.
More publications and presentations on these issues: