Applying decision making theory to clinical judgements in violence risk assessment

Jennifer Murray, Mary E. Thomson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


A considerable proportion of research in the field of violence risk assessment has focused on the accuracy of clinical judgements of offender dangerousness. This has largely been determined through research which compares the accuracy of clinical predictions of offender dangerousness or future violence to mathematical predictions. What has been less researched is the influence of decision making heuristics and biases on clinical judgements of violence risk assessment. The current paper discusses decision making heuristics and biases and applies the theory to clinical judgements in a violence risk assessment context. Based on the current review, it is suggested that in order to improve the effectiveness clinical judgements in violence risk assessment, a greater level of empirical research specifically examining the effects of the heuristics and biases in this context must be conducted, with the possibility of incorporating debiasing training into clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-171
Number of pages22
JournalEurope's Journal of Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2010



  • biases
  • psychology
  • heuristics
  • clinical judgement
  • decision making
  • violence risk assessment

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