Aug 7, 2016
4
0
Greetings,

I'm merely a master's trained guy with a smattering of education in general, history and systems, developmental, social, learning & cognition, psychopathology, neuroscience, and neurobiology. None of them, however, seem to provide an integration to provide whole spectrum understanding of human behavior.

I've recently read several books that make me wonder what psychology instruction or reading exists so that psychologists may loosely predict behavior.

For example, after receiving some details about an individual, how might that data be provided to a doctoral trained psychologist so that they may understand and provide information pertinent to individual's sincerity, motivations, predict subsequent behaviors, and provide a rudimentary sketch of what that individual's upbringing has been? Is this behavioral analysis? Some field of profiling? Another area of psychology that I haven't encountered?

Enhancing my knowledge base is all that I desire. I consume several books by the week, and this is an area that continues to puzzle and for which I cannot find any material should such material exist.

Thank you, sincerely, and I hope some of you may provide me some enlightenment.


I think an example may be in order. To clarify, my interests aren't at all limited to criminology and forensics but include business strategy, leadership, group dynamics, etc. When Dr. James Brussels, actually a psychiatrist, provided a profile for George Metesky, the Mad Bomber of 1940s and 1950s New York, Brussels profile or analysis was later found to be quite accurate. What collaborative field of knowledge did Dr. Brussels draw from? Or is this something more intuitive (?), which I doubt.

Best.
 

Ollie123

10+ Year Member
Feb 19, 2007
4,797
1,357
Status
Psychology Student
Generally speaking...we can look at current behavior and solid historical information/demographics and predict forward. "Profiling" when it involves inferring historical information (i.e. this person is an alcoholic/psychopath/etc. so therefore they must have had experience X as a child) is mostly BS and guesswork. Though like anything, sometimes it can come out correct. That may be why you are having troubles finding literature on it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: InterestedMan
OP
I
Aug 7, 2016
4
0
Generally speaking...we can look at current behavior and solid historical information/demographics and predict forward. "Profiling" when it involves inferring historical information (i.e. this person is an alcoholic/psychopath/etc. so therefore they must have had experience X as a child) is mostly BS and guesswork. Though like anything, sometimes it can come out correct. That may be why you are having troubles finding literature on it.
Thank you so much! This means my search efforts haven't been totally in vain because my search would likely have continued in fruitlessness.

May I inquire about your tradecraft? What about your studies and experience allow for prediction? Is there a certain track or emphasis in psychology that provides such training?

For an ambiguous example, do you find that a person in a developmental stage, with given socioeconomic factors, or stressors tend to gravitate toward decision or action A rather than B? Is that how prognostication works?

I think of Gavin de Becker and his methodology which he loosely describes in Gift of Fear, but to my knowledge he's not formally trained in behavioral sciences.



Oh, I didn't realize I butchered by topic line.
 

thewesternsky

10+ Year Member
Jan 30, 2007
786
76
Status
Post Doc
Look into reading "House of Cards" by Robyn Dawes. Talks about the pitfalls of this kind of prediction.

When people do it accurately--that's often due to luck.
 
  • Like
Reactions: InterestedMan

PsyDr

Psychologist
Lifetime Donor
10+ Year Member
Dec 18, 2005
2,897
2,614
Status
Psychologist
One should note that many of the "profilers" are 1) not psychologists and/or 2) have never actually examined the people they talk about.
 
  • Like
Reactions: InterestedMan

Ollie123

10+ Year Member
Feb 19, 2007
4,797
1,357
Status
Psychology Student
I'm primarily a researcher, so I guess I do a lot of population-level prediction? Likely not in the sense that you mean though. Any psychology program with a meaningful research component will provide the training.

Second the vote for reading "House of Cards." I think the point is that prediction of the sort you are referencing is VERY vague. I am not a fortune teller. I cannot look at person X and say "This person is going to attempt suicide on Christmas three years from now." I can interview a person, administer established tests and conclude "This person is at somewhat greater risk for hurting themselves than the average individual. They may or may not ever do so, but regardless we should discuss a plan and strategies to help mitigate that risk."

Its not as flashy as it is on TV;)
 
OP
I
Aug 7, 2016
4
0
Thank you for the great responses. I've ordered House of Cards so thank you for the referral. There are a couple of chapters of particular interest.

I think what rekindled this curiosity most recently for me was something I read in Art of Intelligence by Henry Crumpton. He perhaps twice in the book refers to providing CIA psychologists data on prospective agents (people who will provide information for the CIA against their host/home state/organization) and the psychologists vetting the integrity of the prospective agent. To assess, from data, a person of a different culture, who the assessor will never meet seems somewhat unrealistic, but I feel like this is typical for the organization and persons mentioned in the book and take Crumpton's word for it. To be clear, this is not a pre-employment psychological evaluation the author was referring to.

This example loosely generalizes to various scenarios in other readings I've done over the years, i.e. monitor the course of a business negotiation to proclaim potential outcome, e.g. "will they sell?"
 

PsychPhDStudent

7+ Year Member
Sep 5, 2009
1,041
238
Status
Post Doc
You've already gotten some great suggestions (I'll check out House of Cards now myself!) You might also enjoy some stuff from the judgment and decision making literature.
 
  • Like
Reactions: InterestedMan
OP
I
Aug 7, 2016
4
0
You've already gotten some great suggestions (I'll check out House of Cards now myself!) You might also enjoy some stuff from the judgment and decision making literature.
Yes, I have. Thank you for the extra reading options. I'll look for those later today at the office.
 

Istilldontknow

2+ Year Member
Aug 10, 2016
60
21
Hello, first time poster but years long lurker.

Im only a psyd student with a masters in forensic psych. While getting my masters, i worked with a few profilers for the fbi and was trained by some high ups in the profiling and forensic world. What i observed was that "profiling" is extremely vague and can usually be generalized to fit most people already having traits of criminals (fire setting, hurting animals, etc). However, all of these higher ups seemed to talk about profiling as if there were more secrets about it than us students were privy to learn. They always reiterated that we would learn more if we continued with the fbi or other gov agencies. I dont know if i was the only one with this impression, but ive been working in the field(not with the gov) for a bit and i have yet to discover anything else that would lead me to believe in the science of profiling.
 
Mar 24, 2014
4,393
3,841
Rural Area Medical Facilty
Status
Psychologist
With clinical experience, I have noticed that certain patterns of behavior recur and that people have similar responses to similar experiences. At times patients will be amazed at my insight into how they think or feel, but it is not mind reading it is more along the lines of "Other people who had this happen told me this, is it that way for you?" "Yes, that's it exactly." If I leave out the part where other people with similar experiences told me this, then people think that I am a mindreader. I could see how a profiler with lots of experience of criminal behavioral would start to see patterns of behaviors as well and to the untrained this might seem impressive.