Winter Workshop

Topic: Cognitive Bias in Forensic DNA (scroll down for more details)
Presenter: Dr. Itiel Dror, Cognitive Consultants International
Forensic Identification:

Space is limited due to the size of the classroom. It only holds 100 people.

Registration will open on 3-Jan-17 and close when full or 17-Mar-17.

Registration will be opened to non-DNA forensic practitioners if there is space remaining.

If any Vendors would like to Sponsor the workshop or a break ($250), please contact the AFDAA chair, or
fill out our online Sponsorship form.

Location: Texas DPS Headquarters in Austin, TX at the classroom in the Criminal Law Enforcement building (Bldg E)

Date: Thursday, 23-Mar-16
Time: 8AM – 5PM
Cost: $40 Members, $75 Non-Members
*Please note that everyone must pay the registration fee. It does not apply towards annual membership dues.
Breakfast, coffee, and snack breaks will be provided.


Forensic DNA work is similar to other expert domains that require perception and interpretation of information, such as in the military, medical, and financial domains. The human mind is not a camera, as we actively process and compare information. It is naïve 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 forensic DNA, one needs to take into account the role of the human mind and cognitive factors (Dror, 2015). Although training is provided to forensic DNA experts, there is a lack of training in psychological and cognitive elements involved in forensic DNA decision making. Thus, there is a lack of systematic training and professional development in the influence of human cognition on forensic DNA work and this workshop is a step towards addressing training in the cognitive factors involved in forensic DNA decision making.

Course Outline:
No prior knowledge in cognition is required. This workshops covers a variety of issues specifically chosen as relevant to enhance the work of forensic DNA examiners. 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 Applications: Domain Applications will connect the Background Knowledge to a variety of forensic DNA decision making issues, which will include:
a. Cognitive perseverance
b. Confirmation bias
c. Self-fulfilling prophecies
d. Contextual influences
e. Cognitive closure
f. Expertise
g. Escalation of commitment
h. Cognitive dissonance

Domain Implications: Domain Implications will tie both Background Knowledge and Domain Applications to specific issues regarding how forensic DNA decision making is conducted. In addition to specific ways to enhance forensic DNA 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 DNA 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.

Summer Meeting

Dates: July 6-7

Location: Omni Hotel Austin Downtown, 700 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, TX 78701

Anyone interested in holding workshops or events in conjunction with the main AFDAA meeting should contact the AFDAA Chair,

AFDAA is also accepting proposals for Presentations at the Summer Meeting. If you would like to present or would like to recommend a presenter or a topic, please contact the AFDAA Chair,, or any other Board Member.