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The Optimized Summed Scored Attributes Method for the Classification of U.S. Blacks and Whites: A Validation Study

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Recently, Hefner and Ousley (2014) introduced the optimized summed scored attributes (OSSA) method that maximizes between‐group differences in U.S. black and white populations by dichotomizing six cranial morphoscopic trait scores. This study tests OSSA using an independent skeletal sample (Hamann‐Todd, n = 208) and positively identified forensic cases (Mercyhurst University, n = 28, and New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner, n = 38). An evaluation of trait frequencies suggests shifting the heuristically selected sectioning point separating U.S. black and white populations from ≤ 3 to ≤ 4. We found a total correct classification of 73.0% (B = 50.9%, W = 89.2%) using the originally suggested sectioning point of ≤3, while the total correct classification increases to 79.2% (B = 80.2%, W = 78.5%) with a modified sectioning point of ≤4. With the increased total correct classification and reduced classification bias between ancestry groups, we suggest the modified sectioning point of ≤4 be used when assessing ancestry in forensic unknowns.
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Keywords: ancestry estimation; biological profile; forensic anthropology; forensic science; optimized summed scored attributes; validation study

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2017

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