I was a fan of the show Criminal Minds ever since it aired on NBC in 2001. For those of you who haven't heard of the show it's about criminal profilers at the FBI and how they draw clues from murders, make a personality profile of the perpetrator to try to predict his next move and catch him.
While taking this psychology course (especially during the personality chapter) I learned that interpreting personality based on behavior is often an amateur skill. Studies often show that untrained individuals can make just as an educated guess about criminals and their behavior than a criminal profiler can (even though Criminal Minds presents the exact opposite).
Criminal profilers' assessments sometimes reflect the P.T. Barnum effect which our book defines as "the tendency of people to accept the high base rate description as accurate." So in most cases presenting obvious analysis that the average person could make.
However, on Criminal Minds about 33 percent of the time they get the profile wrong and have to re-think their strategy showing that not all personality assessments can be accurate.
Criminal profiling is still being used in the FBI. Not only does it use psychology but also criminology. If I didn't have my heart set on a different career this would definitely be my second choice.
What do you think about criminal profiling and the show? Do you think FBI should still be using criminal profilers?