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Possible Sources and Impact of Stress on Decision-Making in Forensic Science

Almazrouei, Mohammed A.; (2022) Possible Sources and Impact of Stress on Decision-Making in Forensic Science. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Workplace stress has been shown to impact the quality of decision-making made by professionals in multiple domains, including medicine and policing. However, there remains a lack of research addressing the influence that workplace stress may have on the quality of forensic examiners’ decision-making. Forensic experts work in pressurised environments, and they make important decisions that may affect legal outcomes. Hence, it is critical to understand stress and its potential negative or positive impact on forensic experts’ decision-making. This research sought to explore the extent to which the forensic experts experience stress in the workplace, and its potential impact on the decision-making that they make in the forensic science process. The first part of the thesis presents data on the possible sources of stress and pressures, from surveys of practicing forensic examiners (Study 1 and Study 2). The findings suggested that some experts experienced high stress from workplace factors, including implicit pressures from stakeholders that interact with the experts to report certain forensic conclusions over others. Experts varied in their opinion whether stress affected their decision-making. The second part of the thesis explored the possible impact of stress on forensic science decision-making. An online method for testing the impact of stress on participants was developed, and it was found effective in inducing stress in human participants (Study 3). Then, the possible impact of this stressor on a fingerprinting comparison task with both novices and fingerprint experts was explored (Study 4). Findings revealed a complex relationship between stress and expert decision-making. Whilst stress improved the performance of both novices and experts on fingerprint assessments, stress also caused reduced risk-taking, especially when the fingerprints were difficult. Three underlying themes emerged from this research: the importance of addressing common stress factors, the positive impact of stress on decision-making, and the complexity of evaluating stress and its impact. These themes form the basis of a new model outlining the ‘Stressor-Stress Response in Expert Decision-Making’ which may contribute to the development of stress-optimisation strategies to enhance forensic expert performance.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Possible Sources and Impact of Stress on Decision-Making in Forensic Science
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Security and Crime Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10162064
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