Biometrics is rapidly gaining acceptance as the technology that can meet the ever increasing need for security in critical applications. Biometric systems automatically recognize individuals based on their physiological and behavioral characteristics. Hence, the fundamental requirement of any biometric recognition system is a human trait having several desirable properties like universality, distinctiveness, permanence, collectability, acceptability, and resistance to circumvention. However, a human characteristic that possesses all these properties has not yet been identified. As a result, none of the existing biometric systems provide perfect recognition and there is a scope for improving the performance of these systems. Although characteristics like gender, ethnicity, age, height, weight and eye color are not unique and reliable, they provide some information about the user. We refer to these characteristics as "soft" biometric traits and argue that these traits can complement the identity information provided by the primary biometric identifiers like fingerprint and face. This paper presents the motivation for utilizing soft biometric information and analyzes how the soft biometric traits can be automatically extracted and incorporated in the decision making process of the primary biometric system. Preliminary experiments were conducted on a fingerprint database of 160 users by synthetically generating soft biometric traits like gender, ethnicity, and height based on known statistics. The results show that the use of additional soft biometric user information significantly improves (approximately 6%) the recognition performance of the fingerprint biometric system.