The retrospective detective. Cognitive bias and the cold case investigator

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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 decision-making is tentatively suggested.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-47
Number of pages19
JournalPapers from the British Criminology Conference
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2017
EventBritish Society of Criminology Annual Conference: Forging Social Justice: Local Challenges, Global Complexities - Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, United Kingdom
Duration: 4 Jul 20177 Jul 2017 (Link to Conference Details )


Dive into the research topics of 'The retrospective detective. Cognitive bias and the cold case investigator'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this