Washington, May 12: In a crime scene television show, many times a perfect fingerprint is taken from the crime scene and then a suspect is quickly identified.
However in real life, these crimes can take weeks, months or even years to solve because the crucial portion of an investigation is often done by humans, not by computers.
And now, a new study has revealed that the human factor in the process of tracking fingerprints could lead to errors and incorrect conclusions.
“We knew from other psychological research that the all-too-human foibles of distraction, rushes to judgment, biases and expectations can’t be avoided even by the most diligent professionals, so we were understandably concerned about the potential for error,” said lead study author Jason Tangen of the University of Queensland.
Tangen, along with the other authors, set out to find determine the likelihood of human error when dealing with fingerprints.
To conduct the study, the researchers drafted 37 qualified fingerprint experts and 37 novices and gave them pairs of fingerprints to examine side by side.
Participants were asked to judge whether the prints matched or not using a “confidence” rating scale from one to 12, one indicating that they were positively sure they were different and 12 denoting that they were certain the fingerprints were a match.
The novices mistakenly identified 55.18 percent of the similar, non-matching pairs as matches. The experts did exceedingly well overall correctly identifying just over 92 percent of the matching pairs. However, they also misidentified almost 8 per cent of the non-matches. It is these kinds of errors that can often lead to failing to identify a criminal.
The study is upcoming in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. (ANI)