Minimizing Bias in Forensic Handwriting Examinations


  • L. C. Alewijnse Netherlands Forensic Institute
  • E.J.A.T. Mattijssen Netherlands Forensic Institute
  • R.D. Stoel Netherlands Forensic Institute



Contextual bias, Confirmation bias, Base rate bias, Selection bias, Content confirmation bias


The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the increasing awareness about the potential bias on the interpretation and conclusions of forensic handwriting examiners (FHEs) by contextual information. We briefly provide the reader with an overview of relevant types of bias, the difficulties associated with studying bias, the sources of bias and their potential influence on the decision making process in casework, and solutions to minimize bias in casework. We propose that the limitations of published studies on bias need to be recognized and that their conclusions must be interpreted with care. Instead of discussing whether bias is an issue in casework, the forensic handwriting community should actually focus on how bias can be minimized in practice. As some authors have already shown (e.g., Found & Ganas, 2014), it is relatively easy to implement context information management procedures in practice. By introducing appropriate procedures to minimize bias, not only forensic handwriting examination will be improved, it will also increase the acceptability of the provided evidence during court hearings.

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How to Cite

Alewijnse, L. C., Mattijssen, E., & Stoel, R. (2015). Minimizing Bias in Forensic Handwriting Examinations. Journal of Forensic Document Examination, 25, 17–26.