A simulation for exploring the effects of the “trait list” method’s subjectivity on consistency and accuracy of ancestry estimations

Hughes, Cris and Juarez, Chelsey and Hughes, Taylor and Galloway, Alison and Fowler, Gillian and Chacon, Shirley (2011) A simulation for exploring the effects of the “trait list” method’s subjectivity on consistency and accuracy of ancestry estimations. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 56 (5). pp. 1094-1106. ISSN 0022-1198

Full content URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1556-4029.2011.01875.x

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Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive

Abstract

The nonmetric “trait list” methodology is widely used for estimating ancestry of skeletal remains. However, the effects of the method’s embedded subjectivity on subsequent accuracy and consistency are largely unknown. We develop a mathematical simulation to test whether variation in the application of the “trait list” method alters the ancestry estimation for a given case. Our simulation explores how variations in (i) trait selection, (ii) number of traits employed, and (iii) ancestry choice thresholds affect the ancestry estimation of an unidentified skeleton. Using two temporally and geographically diverse samples, the simulation demonstrates that trait selection, trait quantity, threshold choices, and the exclusion of high-frequency traits had minimal effect on estimation of general ancestry. For all data sets and Runs, AccuracyAS was maintained above 90%. The authors close with a discussion on the logistical issues present when choosing traits, and how to avoid ancestry bias.

Keywords:forensic science, forensic anthropology, inter-observer method bias, heritable quantitative traits, mathematical model, Asian continental ancestry group
Subjects:F Physical Sciences > F400 Forensic and Archaeological Science
L Social studies > L620 Physical and Biological Anthropology
F Physical Sciences > F410 Forensic Science
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:7813
Deposited On:09 Mar 2013 14:02

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