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An eye tracking study of bloodstain pattern analysts during pattern classification

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posted on 10.04.2019 by R. M. Arthur, J. Hoogenboom, R. D. Green, Michael C. Taylor, K. G. de Bruin
Bloodstain pattern analysis (BPA) is the forensic discipline concerned with the classification and interpretation of bloodstains and bloodstain patterns at the crime scene. At present, it is unclear exactly which stain or pattern properties and their associated values are most relevant to analysts when classifying a bloodstain pattern. Eye tracking technology has been widely used to investigate human perception and cognition. Its application to forensics, however, is limited. This is the first study to use eye tracking as a tool for gaining access to the mindset of the bloodstain pattern expert. An eye tracking method was used to follow the gaze of 24 bloodstain pattern analysts during an assigned task of classifying a laboratory-generated test bloodstain pattern. With the aid of an automated image-processing methodology, the properties of selected features of the pattern were quantified leading to the delineation of areas of interest (AOIs). Eye tracking data were collected for each AOI and combined with verbal statements made by analysts after the classification task to determine the critical range of values for relevant diagnostic features. Eye-tracking data indicated that there were four main regions of the pattern that analysts were most interested in. Within each region, individual elements or groups of elements that exhibited features associated with directionality, size, colour and shape appeared to capture the most interest of analysts during the classification task. The study showed that the eye movements of trained bloodstain pattern experts and their verbal descriptions of a pattern were well correlated.