Roach, Jason (2017) The Retrospective Detective. Cognitive Bias and the Cold Case Homicide Investigator. Papers from the British Criminology Conference, 17. ISSN 1759‐0043

Current research on police psychology in criminal investigations assumes investigative
decision-making in cold case (undetected) homicides to be the same as that of
live/current homicide investigations, therefore not warranting exploration in its own
right. In contrast, the present article suggests that significantly different psychological
and contextual factors exist which can facilitate bias in investigator decision-making in
cold case (undetected) homicides. These include the biasing effect of inheriting a chain
of decisions often made by many previous investigators and the negative framing effect
that the term ‘cold case’ can have on investigator confidence and on their subsequent
investigative decision-making. Although the idea that cold case homicide investigation
necessitates a different ‘investigative mindset’ to live cases is only suggested here, a
possible agenda for a bespoke research project on cold case investigator decisionmaking
is tentatively suggested.

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