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Research Data Bases

Research Data Base at University of Zurich
Project Data Base of the Swiss National Science Foundation

Systematic Observation & Abduction of Hypotheses

Partner in research: Patrick Tönz, MSc

Fields of Application
Criminalistics - Strategic Intelligence Analysis - Phenomenology in all branches of science - Archeology - Liberal Arts - Linguistics - Theology - Accounting - Sudoku Puzzles

The Method
What is to be done when nothing is known yet? How is one to proceed? The very beginning of all scientific activity is rarely treated in undergraduate or graduate studies. The method for systematic observation has been developed exactely for this purpose, the. It consists in the application of five easily memorized formulas. They help the investigator and the researcher be more proficient observers and to make sure that no details have been left out when it comes to abduct hypotheses. The five formulas determine which steps are to be taken at first. They are listed as follows:

I.  Compare the object of observation to a model and/or to similar cases.

II.  Separate formal aspects from the contents and analyze each of them.

III.  Structure the object into functional elements, and explore each of them separately.

IV.  Explore inconsistencies, contradictions, mistakes, or astonishing coincidences within the context of the established structure.

V.  Look for the absence of signs (with models and after structuring the object).

Testing the Plausibility of Hypotheses
Then, after going through the process of systematically registering every import detail, we are able to draw first hypotheses (the abduction process according to Peirce). These hypotheses should consequently be checked for plausibility in listing systematically each sign of evidence for and each against them, in order to get a clear picture of the case.

Publications on the topic of observation

Haas, H. (2005). Vom Nichtwissen zum Wissen.
(English Translation: "From Ignorance to Knowledge")
Ungewußt - Zeitschrift für angewandtes Nichtwissen.
Institut für angewandtes Nichtwissen, Uni Siegen (IfAN). Heft Nr 12: 64-85.
Download original paper. English translation available on demand

Haas, H. (2003). Kriminalistischer Erkenntnisgewinn durch systematisches Beobachten.
(English Translation: "Systematic Observation in the Criminal Investigation")
Kriminalistik. 57(2): 93-100.
Homepage "Kriminalistik"

Haas, H. (2003). Observer et rédiger des documents en psychologie légale.
(English Translation: "Scientific Observation and Interpretation in Clinical Practice and Investigation"). Textbook of Forensic Psychology, Vol. I
Institut de Psychologie de l'Université de Lausanne.
Série Actualités psychologiques No 14, ISSN 1420-9284
Homepage "Série Actualités psychologiques" at University of Lausanne

Walder, H. & Hansjakob, Th. (2006): Kriminalistisches Denken
Textbook of criminalistics, 7th Ed.

This classic of German criminalistics was founded by the former Professor of Law and Federal Prosecutor of Switzerland, the late Hans Walder, JD. It is now in the hands of the Prosecutor and Chief of the District Juges' Office Thomas Hansjakob, JD and MSC in Economics. He has updated and substantially enlarged the body of knowledge (among others by the method of systematic observation, p.31-37). How to solve a case, that lets to believe a crime could have been committed? This book offers a comprehensive answer.

Kriminalistik Verlag, Series "Grundlagen der Kriminalistik", Vol. 41.

Press clipping: "Reading this textbook is mandatory - even several times!"
Der Kriminalist 3/2003

Assessment of Threats and Dangerousness

Fields of Application
Law Enforcement - Intelligence Services - Stalking - Domestic Violence - Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry

Treatment of Inappropriate Messages
Threats, hoaxes and other inappropriate communications should be treated as signs of evidence, which have to be interpreted within the given social, cultural and individual context. Specific contexts are: work conflicts, domestic violence, problems of immigrants, threats and stalking of politicians etc. The semiotic model of communication consists of the perpetrator, his message(s), the receiver, the designated victim and potential copycats. When assessing the situation, one needs to explore the personality of the perpetrator (if known) as well as the messages that he sends with standardized catalogues of criteria, as well as the victim's behavior.

Semiotic model of threats and other inappropriate messages

Publications on the assessment of threats and dangerousness

Haas, H. (2004). Gefährlichkeitseinschätzung von Drohungen.
(English Translation: "Threat Assessment").
Kriminalistik. 58(12): 791-799.
Homepage "Kriminalistik"

Escard, E., Haas, H. & Killias, M. (2003). Comportements suicidaires et violences: réflexions criminologiques à partir d'une étude portant sur 21 314 jeunes recrues suisses.
(English Translation: "Suicide attempts and the propensity for violence - reflections based upon the Swiss Recruits' study sample of 21,314 young males").
Encéphale. XXIX: 1-10.
Abstract on Medline

Haas, H. & Schori, Y. (2000). Menaces de suicide ou d'homicide.
(English Translation: "Suicidal and Homicidal Threats").
Psychoscope. Bern, 9/2000: 24-27.
Download text

Haas, H. (2004). Gefährlichkeitsabklärung in der Notfallsituation - First Responder's Assessment of Dangerousness (FRAD). In (Hrsg.): C. Kranich, F. Greber & H. Strub. Häusliche Gewalt und ausländische Mitbürgerinnen und Mitbürger in der Schweiz. AGAVA, Reader zum 3. Schweizer Kongress gegen Gewalt und Missbrauch. Abstract

The Swiss Recruits' Study 1997 on the Topic of Violence (ch-x)

Homepage of the Swiss Youth and Recruits' Survey ch-x

The book: Agressions et victimisations - une enquête sur les délinquants violents et sexuels non détectés
Order Online Shop BBL (search with: Haas + Agressions)
Adress: BBL, Ventes de publications, Fellerstr. 21, CH-3003 Berne

Violence and Victimization:
A Study of Violent and Sex Offenders Unknown to the Police

Are there a substantial number of felons who remain undetected by law enforcement over long periods of time? Do offenders get involved in crime simply because of bad luck or because of mental disorders or other factors? These are just a few of the questions that criminologists often have to answer. A study of 21,347 male army recruits and 1,160 male nonrecruits for comparison purposes was conducted on the topic of violence in 1997. This provided an ideal opportunity for criminologists to examine serious offending.

Summary of the book: download
More informationen on the Swiss recruits' study 1997

For joint projects (information about software and data base)

Haas, H. (2004). Doing Research with Large Databases: Opportunities and Challenges of the Swiss Recruits' Study. Download text on methodology
Website of the School of Criminal Science at University of Lausanne in 2004/2005

The survey, organized by the experts from ch-x in 1997.
For preserving an anonymous and quiet atmosphere,
every second seat was left empty between recruits.

Doctorate Theses

(until 2004) Thesis of Christiane Gabi, Attorney at Law, today with Prof. Marcel A. Niggli

Topic: Staging and Manipulation of the Crime Scence in Homicide Cases
More information E-Mail Christiane Gabi

Research with Students and Students' Work

The following papers were written together with students or by students themselves, based on their senior year projects with the recruits' data and other data.

Jaccard, R. (2007). Valorisation par la police de comportements visant à désamorcer une escalade conflictuelle.Revue internationale de criminologie et de police technique et scientifique. 1/2007: 86-102.

Lamon, Ph. & Haas, H. (2003). Les incendiaires non détectés. Revue internationale de criminologie et de police technique et scientifique. 56(4): 451-466.

Deveaud-Pledran, M. & Haas, H. (2001). Etude pilote sur les réactions de la population à l'implantation d'un établissement pénitentiaire. Research Notes. Bulletin de criminologie. 27(1): 43-58.

Haas, H. & Rindlisbacher, M. (2001). Rückblick über die Strafvollzugspraxis gegenüber Gewalt- und Sexualverbrechern im letzten Jahrzehnt. Crimiscope Nr. 13, Jan. 2001, Lausanne: IPSC-UNIL.

Vignando, R. & Haas, H. (2001). Die Skinhead Bewegung: eine empirische Studie. Crimiscope Nr. 15, Juni 2001, Lausanne: IPSC-UNIL.

Morandi, H., Haas, H. & Killias, M. (2000). La violence des fraudeurs ou le mythe de la différence entre délinquants ordinaires et délinquants économiques. Bulletin de criminologie. 26(2): 21-34.

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