U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Cognitive Human Factors and Forensic Document Examiner Methods and Procedures

NCJ Number
Date Published
Mara L. Merlino, Chandler Al Namer, Taleb Al Namer, La'Quida Smith, Veronica Blas Dahir, Charles Edwards, Derek L. Hammond
Publication Type
Grant Report
This is the Final Summary Overview of a project that extended the authors’ ongoing research on the reliability, measurement validity, and accuracy of established forensic document examiner (FDE) procedures.
The series of three experiments in this project add to this body of knowledge by addressing additional concerns about the FDE examination and decisionmaking process, as well as the nature and psychometric properties of the opinion continuums. The project focused on three research issues: 1) the relationship between the context established by presentation order of questioned and known writing and the examination process; 2) how examiners apply the currently used bipolar continuum of certainty (elimination through identification with a center position of inconclusive) when expressing their opinions about the authorship of questioned writings; and 3) how much writing constitutes “sufficient” information upon which to base an opinion. This report advises that the research methods used in this project can be adapted to other disciplines, which will increase the understanding of cognitive human factors in those fields and provide information about possible sources of cognitive bias, such as the semantic context of the specimen, order of signature presentation top-down/bottom-up processing of information, order of presentation effects, word superiority effects, and other relevant cognitive phenomena. 10 figures, 5 tables, and listings of disseminated publications/presentations to date and works in progress
Date Created: March 29, 2020