Theories of crime can help in the understanding of criminal behavior. According to the psychological theories of crime, individual differences in behavior may make some people more predisposed to committing criminal acts. These differences may arise from personality characteristics, biological factors, or social interactions (Wilson & Herrnstein, 1985).
Theories of crime can be separated into four categories from a psychological perspective. These theories help us understand personality defects and critical-thinking patterns. Behavioral scientists and police use criminal profiling to narrow down criminal investigations to suspects who possess certain behavior and personality features that may have been revealed irrespective of the way the crime was committed.
A successful profiler should possess skills in the understanding of criminal psychology and investigative experience. A criminal investigative analyst is a person who performs tasks of reviewing crimes from both a behavioral and investigative perspective. It involves reviewing and assessing the facts of a criminal act, interpreting offender behavior, and interaction with the victim, as exhibited during the commission of the crime, or as displayed in the crime scene.
Police investigate crime using psychology theory and techniques such as criminal profiling, deception techniques, and polygraph techniques. The purpose of criminal profiling is to provide law enforcement agencies and officers with a psychological sketch of the criminal and the possible characteristics of likely suspects. One skill in determining whether somebody is lying is through observation of behavioral cues as well as deception techniques such as body language and verbal cues.
Conduct research on theories of crime and psychological theories of criminal behavior. Based on your understanding, address the following:
Identify and describe the four psychological theories of crime.
Explain how the sociological theory of crime suggests that crime may appear as a result of an individual’s experience or environmental influences.
Sociological theories of crime are often divided into structural and sub cultural explanations. One example would be the crime that took place during Hurricane Katrina. Explain how crime and violence might increase during an event such as Hurricane Katrina and relate it back to the theories of crime. Also analyze and explain how these theories may be applied in the many cases of serious violence offenses committed by persons between 12–17 years of age.
Compare the psychological theories of crime to the biological theories of crime.
Explain some of the ramifications for using one approach over the other. To compare, you may use a tabular format.
Describe how behavioral science uses criminal profiling as a technique to narrow down a criminal investigation.
Explain several ways criminal profiling can lead to false identification.
Examine the ways the decision-process model can influence the criminal-profiling process.