The Forensic Confirmation Bias: A Comparison Between Experts and Novices

Claire A.J. van den Eeden*, Christianne J. de Poot, Peter J. van Koppen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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A large body of research has described the influence of context information on forensic decision-making. In this study, we examined the effect of context information on the search for and selection of traces by students (N = 36) and crime scene investigators (N = 58). Participants investigated an ambiguous mock crime scene and received prior information indicating suicide, a violent death or no information. Participants described their impression of the scene and wrote down which traces they wanted to secure. Results showed that context information impacted first impression of the scene and crime scene behavior, namely number of traces secured. Participants in the murder condition secured most traces. Furthermore, the students secured more crime-related traces. Students were more confident in their first impression. This study does not indicate that experts outperform novices. We therefore argue for proper training on cognitive processes as an integral part of all forensic education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-126
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Forensic Sciences
Issue number1
Early online date17 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019


  • contextual bias
  • crime scene investigation
  • decision-making
  • expectancy effects
  • expertise
  • forensic science


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