Minimizing Bias in Forensic Decision Making

Minimizing Bias in Forensic Decision Making


12 Hours | 12 CEs

Program Description

This self-paced training program Minimizing Bias in Forensic Decision Making is presented by Dr. Itiel Dror.

It focuses on Minimizing bias in Forensic Decision Making. The program covers the brain and cognitive issues relating to bias and cognitive processing and then connects the cognitive science issues to practical and specific issues in forensic decision making. In addition to knowledge about the cognitive factors in forensic decision making, the program also provides practical solutions to address weaknesses as well as best practices to enhance forensic practices.

Specific application to forensic mental health evaluation is provided through engaging discussions between Dr. Dror and Dr. Patricia Zapf, a forensic psychologist and expert in best practices in forensic mental health evaluation. In addition, Dr. Zapf provides elaboration on how the factors discussed by Dr. Dror are applicable to a forensic mental health evaluation.

Conducting forensic examinations is similar to other expert domains that require perception and interpretation of information, such as in the military, medical, and financial domains. Even in everyday life humans constantly process information. Information is perceived, encoded, represented, transformed, stored, retrieved, compared to other information, evaluated and assessed, to name just a few cognitive processes. The human mind is not a camera, as we actively process and compare information. It is naive to think that we passively construct and experience reality, and perceive the environment as ‘it really is’.

We engage in a variety of cognitive processes that organize and structure the information as it comes in from the external world. Information is then further interpreted and processed in ways that highly depend on the human mind and cognitive factors. As we dynamically process information, we affect what we see, how we interpret and evaluate it, and our decision making process. Thus, to enhance expert performance and understand that different factors may affect their work, especially in a highly specialized domain such as forensics, one needs to take into account the role of the human mind and cognitive factors (Dror, 2015).

Although training is provided to forensic experts, there is a lack of training in psychological and cognitive elements involved in forensic decision making. Thus, there is a lack of systematic training and professional development in the influence of human cognition on forensic work and this workshop is a step towards addressing training in the cognitive factors involved in forensic decision making.

The fee for this training program is $400 and includes all materials.

Intended Audience

This training program is aimed at forensic evaluators, including psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, counselors, and other mental health professionals who engage in evaluations where decisions and opinions are required for a forensic context. This training program is appropriate for beginner, intermediate, and advanced level clinicians.

Upon completion of this course, participants should be able to:


  • Describe background information regarding the human mind and cognitive system
  • Describe how information and knowledge is acquired, processed, represented, encoded, stored, utilized, retrieved, compared, and evaluated
  • Describe how decisions are made
  • Demonstrate the connection between information and a variety of forensic decision making processes that forensic examiners typically use
  • Describe how cognitive factors can be utilized to make forensic experts’ work more efficient
  • Describe the pitfalls and errors that can occur in forensic decision making
  • Describe the Factors / Powers that influence the mind of the forensic evaluator
  • Describe the Dror HEP Hierarchy of Expert Performance
  • Describe sources of bias and countermeasures
  • Describe the process of Chunking
  • About Dr. Itiel Dror


    Dr. Itiel Dror is a cognitive neuroscientist who received his Ph.D. at Harvard (1994) in the area of cognitive factors in human expert performance. Since his Ph.D. over twenty years ago, Dr. Dror has been researching this area, and has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles specifically looking at cognitive factors that mediate human expert performance. His insights and understanding of the human brain and cognitive system underpin the workshop. Without such deep knowledge, it is not possible to properly deliver a workshop on the ‘cognitive factors’. Dr. Dror has been working in the forensic domain for over a decade. In fact, he is the person who introduced the human and cognitive factors to the forensic community and has made this issue central in forensic science.

    Over the last decade Dr. Dror has worked with a variety of forensic laboratories across the US, in which he has visited and shadowed examiners doing casework, reviewed SOPs and practices. Dr. Dror was the Chair of the OSAC Human Factor group (the new ‘SWGs’ organized under NIST/NIJ), which is responsible for the cognitive factor issues across all the OSAC forensic domains. The National Commission on Forensic Science has recognized Dr. Dror as the leader in this area and has asked him to present to the commission (as well as appointed him to their Human Factors subcommittee), as well as many other forensic bodies who have solicited Dr. Dror. The recommendations on cognitive and human factors of the NCFS and the NAS report, and other bodies is mainly based on the research of Dr. Dror. He is also a member of the AAAS (The American Association for the Advancement of Science) Advisory Committee on Forensic Science Assessment (a project in which the AAAS will conduct an analysis of the underlying scientific bases for the forensic tools and methods currently used).

    Dr. Itiel Dror has a proven track record in successfully delivering workshops, specifically on ‘Cognitive Factors in Making Forensic Comparisons’, to dozens of forensic laboratories. He is the only person who has the combined cognitive and forensic expertise to deliver this training. His workshops on this specific issue have been delivered with great success to the FBI, LAPD, NYPD, SFPD, Boston PD, Kansas, and many other forensic laboratories across the US.

    As the world leader in this area, Dr. Dror has also been commissioned to deliver this workshop in a variety of countries across the world (Australia, Finland, the Netherlands, Italy, Canada, as well as other countries –not to mention numerous police forces the UK). The success of his workshops and his training in this area has been recognized by the professional bodies: Dr. Dror has received the ABP Annual Award for ‘Excellence in Training’ for his workshops on cognitive factors in making forensic comparisons. The purpose of the award is to recognize excellence in demonstrating how applying an understanding of the science of human behaviour can impact and deliver practical value to organizations. The judges commented that Dr. Dror’s workshops are: “Truly outstanding and inspiring”, “A highly rigorous application of relevant theoretical frameworks”, “Truly innovative, breaking entirely new ground in a most challenging context”, “Internationally ground-breaking impact already being used around the world”, “Entirely focused on application of conceptual models – underpinned by deep research”, and “Impact is highly impressive”.

    About Dr. Patricia Zapf

    Dr. Patricia Zapf is a clinical forensic psychologist who obtained her Ph.D. from Simon Fraser University (1999) in Canada and currently holds the position of Professor in the Department of Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York. She is Editor of the American Psychology-Law Society book series; Associate Editor for Law and Human Behavior; and is on the Editorial Boards of 5 journals in psychology and law. Dr. Zapf has served as President of the American Psychology-Law Society (AP-LS; Division 41, APA) and on the Board of Directors for the International Association of Forensic Mental Health Services (IAFMHS). She has published 10 books and manuals and over 100 articles and chapters, mainly on forensic evaluation. Dr. Zapf was appointed Fellow of the American Psychological Association and Distinguished Member of the American Psychology-Law Society in 2006 for outstanding contributions to the field of law and psychology for her work in forensic evaluation. In addition to her research, she serves as a consultant to various criminal justice and policy organizations and has a private practice in forensic evaluation. She has conducted over 2500 forensic evaluations in both the United States and Canada and has served as an expert witness in state, Federal, and military court. Dr. Zapf is the author of The Ethical Practice of Forensic Psychology: A Casebook and Best Practices in Forensic Mental Health Evaluation: Evaluation of Competence to Stand Trial; editor of Forensic Assessments in Criminal and Civil Law: A Handbook for Lawyers (winner of the 2016 American Psychology-Law Society book series award); and Editor-in-Chief of the APA Handbook of Forensic Psychology. She served on the National Judicial College’s Mental Competency – Best Practices Model panel of experts and travels throughout the United States and Internationally to train legal and mental health professionals on best practices in forensic evaluation. Dr. Zapf’s research lab, the Forensic Training Academy, collaborates with Dr. Dror on research examining issues of bias in forensic evaluation.

    No prior knowledge in cognition is required. This program covers a variety of issues specifically chosen as relevant to enhance the work of forensic evaluators. Three primary areas are covered: 1. Background knowledge, 2. Domain applications, and 3. Domain implications.

    Background Knowledge

    Background knowledge will cover general principles and mechanisms of the human mind and cognition as they relate to bias. These issues include:
    a. The human brain and how that translates to human performance and how we process information.
    b. How information processing underlies all aspects of perception and cognition in general and in expertise.
    c. Specific issues in information processing, such as: Knowledge representation, Allocation of resources, Perception, Judgement and Decision making.
    d. Architectural constraints in cognition, including: Limits in information processing load, Malfunctions, and Lack of control.

    Domain Implications

    Domain Implications will tie both Background Knowledge and Domain Applications to specific issues regarding how forensic decision making is conducted.

    In addition to specific ways to enhance forensic decision making, this course will try to provide more in depth tools to the participants. Such tools will accompany the participants in the future and will enable them to enhance and enrich their professional abilities. This part will also include discussion of court cases that were challenging and highlighted cognitive factors in forensic decision making. The recent National Commission on Forensic Science’s document on “Ensuring That Forensic Analysis Is Based Upon Task Relevant Information” and other recent developments in OSAC, NIST, and DoJ will be discussed and integrated into the course. In addition, Dr. Patricia Zapf provides commentary and discussion of how these principles apply to forensic mental health evaluation.

    Here are what others are saying about this course:

    “The training helped me to better understand the issues of cognitive bias and how they relate to my work. I feel I am better prepared to address these issues when they come up in court.”Forensic Psychologist

    “Very eye opening training to biases that we may be unaware of. The thing I took away most was that even though you may be exposed to various biases, if the methods are followed and precautions taken, the science can still be correct.”Social Work Intern

    “I was very impressed with the training. It is very important for forensic practitioners to understand how the brain works and how bias can affect our analysis. Thank you.”Clinical Psychologist


    Continuing Education Credit

    This Distance Learning Course is a Home Study Training Program. To earn CEs you are required to complete all course materials, quizzes, and the evaluation. No partial credit is available. A score of 70% is required to proceed; you will be able to re-take any quiz on which you score less than 70%. Participants will earn 12 CE hours upon completion of these requirements. Each participant will be able to download and print the CE certificate upon completion of the final evaluation.

    Board Approvals: APA, ASWB, CPA, NBCC. Click here for state and other regional board approvals.

    This course has also been approved by the British Psychological society for CPD credit.

    Your satisfaction with our programs, products and services is important to us; however, because these are immediately made available to you upon registration and payment, we do not issue refunds. Should you find that a particular program, product or service is not the right fit for you, we will assist you in crediting your registration towards another one of our offerings that might better suit you.

    We specialize in training groups — from a handful to hundreds — and are happy to contact you to discuss your group training needs.

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