Psychological models of criminal behavior

Criminal behaviors refers to such type of violation act that is premeditated and has no justification. Psychological models of criminal behavior are of various types which includes prior concepts of Freudian to later social and cognitive psychological models.

Psychological models of criminal behaviorFollowing are the basic assumptions regarding psychological theories of criminality:

  1. Psychological theories include an individual as chief unit of analysis.
  2. Behavior of individuals is dependent upon the personality which act as the vital motivational component.
  3. Social agreements attribute toward the normality.
  4. Dysfunctional, inappropriate or abnormal mental processes are those traits of individual’s personality that contribute to various crimes.
  5. There may be some specific cause behind the act of crime.
  6. There are different reasons for abnormal or inappropriate mental processes such as mind disorder, unsuitable learning and adjustment to conflicts that resides within individual’s mind.

Following are the psychological factors that contribute toward criminal behavior:

Research reveals that psychology of criminal emerges from biological substrate and psychological state of individual affect the biology of criminal in different aspects. Brain and mind have stubborn connection. Biological mechanisms are involved in mental or psychological state of an individual.

Study of mental disorders is referred to as psychopathology which establishes chief area of research for forensic psychologist. Whereas, crimes are not necessarily committed by individuals suffering from various mental disorders. It is evaluated that the rate of mental disorder is comparatively four times higher among prisoners than that of general population.

There is an intricate relationship between mental disorder and criminal behavior. Moreover, individuals who experience untrue perceptions (like, hallucinations e.g., listening to such voices that are not existing in real world) and who have wrong beliefs or misconceptions (e.g., people want to kill me) are regarded as serious mental illness or psychosis.

According to the current research, psychosis or schizophrenia are related to enlarged number of committing crimes. Whereas, it is obvious that a person who has not realistic behavior cannot provide that much harm to other. So, mostly psychotic people are not involved in committing crimes.

Research on hallucinations in schizophrenics reveals that the basis for their false perceptions is brain dysfunction. For example, the occurrence of auditory hallucinations coincides with the firing of neurons in brain regions normally involved in processing sound but in this case in the absence of sound.

Thus, the impetus for violence in a schizophrenic individual when he attacks because the voices say the other person intends harm appears to arise out of aberrant neural. Among the various mental disorders that are identified by the researchers and clinicians, majority are not considered as psychoses.

Psychopathy is a kind of personality disorder which involves socially or interpersonal deviant behavior. Though, 1% of the general population is having this disorder but they are contributing to 25% of prison population. This type of disorder involves lack of regret about their antisocial act in which they violate the rights of other people.

Thus, they are best suited for different criminal activities. Among their criminal acts, rate of recidivism is greater as compared to that of non-psychopathic criminals. However, psychopaths are not psychotic.

There are some neuro-biological phenomenons that are responsible for generating emotions in thoughts and attitudes which then comes out to be harmful in psychopath.

Robert Hare, a psychologist states that genetic factors certify abnormal structure of personality and environment gives shape to disorder through which it is expressed as behavior.

Authors:  Rubab Hareem and Mariam Nawab from Department of Chemistry, Kinnaird College for Women, Lahore.