Education Versus Experience as Criminal Profiling Backgrounds

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In 2017, there was more than 403,000 violent crimes reported to the police/ 1,098 violent crime for every 100,000 people in Canada (Allen, 2018). This number does not account for any other type of crime nor the crimes that were not reported/ noticed by the police themselves. It also does not account for any other country in the world. Crime can be defined as any deed that violates the criminal code and is punishable by the law. Not only can one commit a crime by acting, but they can also commit a crime by not doing anything to help or stop a situation. Due to the huge number of people in Canada’s population, it can be very difficult to find the person responsible for a given crime. This is where a criminal profiler steps in. A criminal profiler is one who infers the traits of offender(s) who commit crimes (Turvey, 2012). Criminal profiling is a tool used by law enforcement to help identify/ narrow down potential suspects (Turvey, 2012). Although criminal profiling sounds like the perfect way to help law enforcement in catching criminals, it is not exempt from debates. There is a debate surrounding this profession, regarding what is the most important background for a criminal profiler to have: education or experience.

For the purpose of this paper and through an analysis of previous research studies as well as anecdotal support, I will be comparing and contrasting education and experience as a background for criminal profilers. Furthermore, I will be attempting to determine why it appears that education is favoured over experience, and what value, if any, does experience hold in criminal profiling research. Ultimately I will be addressing three distinct hypotheses. My first hypothesis is that the reason experience is so undervalued in criminal profiling research is because it is a hard concept to objectively measure. I also hypothesize that criminal profiling research does not give enough credit to experience as there is a pre-existing bias towards education as a background. Finally, I hypothesize that this issue of underestimating experience is not exclusive to criminal profiling research. Respectively, my three null hypotheses are as follows: experience is not a hard concept to measure, there is not any pre-existing bias towards education, and finally, the issue of undervaluing experience is exclusive to criminal profiling research.

Education Versus Experience as Criminal Profiling Backgrounds

It is evident that the police organizations value experience as one has to work their way up the ladder by putting in time and obtaining experience in their field. Contrastingly, academic research does not support this view, the research holds that education is the most valuable background. The question then is, why? Why is it that the police organization holds that experience is important but academic research demonstrates differently? Part of this problem may be the lack of definitions given for education and experience, due to how easily understandable both of these constructs appear. For the purpose of this paper, education can be defined as “information about or training in a particular subject” (N/A, 2019). Contrastingly, experience can be defined as the course of acquiring and building to one’s understanding or skill(s) through working in a given field.

For this section of my paper, I will continue comparing and contrasting the different views regarding education and experience. I will use direct quotes from both Kate Lines and Brent Turvey, two opposing views to further demonstrate each side of the debate. I will then briefly discuss the previously conducted studying that compare education and experience in criminal profiling to give the background information on the difference between education and experience in the studies.

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Methodology of Previous Studies

For this part of my paper, I will conduct a thorough analysis of the methodology used in the previously conducted studies. Throughout this analysis, I will point out that there is very little, if any definitions of education and experience, how the studies only account for one aspect of experience rather than experience as a whole construct, and finally, determine whether or not these studies give experience a fair chance of holding any value as a background for criminal profilers. Furthermore, I will address the findings of the previous research and incorporate the major components of experience to highlight why/ how the methodologies and measures (if any) used do not equally weigh education and experience.

Limitations and Suggestions

As with every study that has been conducted, the studies revolving around experience and education in criminal profiling have significant limitations, especially revolving around the neglect that they demonstrate for experience. In this part of my paper, I will highlight and discuss the various limitations of each of the criminal profiling study. Additionally, I will make several suggestions for future research regarding how studies could be done to allow experience to have a fair shot of being valuable in the eyes of academic research. Along with my suggestions, I will also give a few different but possible ways that these researchers could measure experience as an entire construct.

Exclusivity of Criminal Profiling Research

After comparing and contrasting the roles of education and experience in criminal profiling research as well as analyzing the methodologies used and limitations of these studies, I will attempt to determine if my third hypothesis is either supported or not supported. My third hypothesis is that the issue experience being undervalued in academic research is not exclusive to only criminal profiling research. Through an analysis of literature from unrelated domains and drawing parallels back to criminal profiling research, I will demonstrate how the research in criminal profiling does not negate experience any more or less than other domains such as medical, law, and psychology.

Summary / Conclusion

Finally, in this section, I will reiterate my hypotheses/ null hypotheses, quickly summarize the methodologies used in the previous studies, briefly recount the results and limitations found in the criminal profiling studies, and finally, reach my final conclusion(s) and determine if any of my hypotheses are supported or not supported.

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Education Versus Experience as Criminal Profiling Backgrounds. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 21, 2024, from
“Education Versus Experience as Criminal Profiling Backgrounds.” Edubirdie, 27 Sept. 2022,
Education Versus Experience as Criminal Profiling Backgrounds. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2024].
Education Versus Experience as Criminal Profiling Backgrounds [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 27 [cited 2024 May 21]. Available from:

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