The relationship between psychology and criminal behavior is significant. For centuries, scholars have been attempting to explain why someone commits a crime. This research paper examined the role of psychodynamic theory as developed by Sigmund Freud. Included here are the roles of the id, ego, and superego in criminal behavior. This was followed by a discussion of mental disorders and crime. Under examination here were conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder. Through both disorders, we learned that children possess many characteristics associated with delinquency and adult criminality, ultimately concluding that treatment is a necessity and early intervention is paramount.
Discussed next was the role of mental illness and crime. Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are two of the most serious disorders. Research suggests that there is a correlation between individuals with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and delinquency and/or criminal behavior. The second major psychological theory is behaviorism. As previously mentioned, behavioral theory suggests human behavior is fostered through learning experiences. At the forefront of this theory is the premise that individuals change their behavior according to reactions from others. In the real world, there exists the assumption that behavior is reinforced via rewards and eliminated by a negative reaction or punishment. Social learning theory, which is a branch of behavior theory, is the most relevant to criminology. Moreover, the most prominent social learning theorist is Albert Bandura.
The third psychological theory examined is cognition. Here, an importance of mental processes of individuals is examined. A discussion followed on how individuals perceive and mentally represent the world. Furthermore, how do individuals solve problems? Two important subdisciplines examined were Kohlberg’s moral development theory and information-processing theory. Ultimately, we can conclude that criminal offenders are poor at processing information and evaluating the world around them. The next major topics discussed were personality and intelligence. Concerning personality, we learned that personality can be measured via the domains of Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness. We learned that Extraversion and Neuroticism are related to criminal behavior. Last, the intelligence debate has existed for centuries, and data demonstrate that individuals with a low IQ are more likely to engage in criminal behavior. Important to the discussion of intelligence and IQ is school performance. Research studies that have examined future delinquency and adult criminality have consistently demonstrated the link between the two. In reality, it is not difficult to understand why a person who fails or drops out of school is limited in his or her career or future options. Occupations that have desirable salaries often require a high school degree as well as a bachelor’s or master’s degree. In sum, when citizens and scholars attempt to understand why people commit a crime, recognition must be given to psychological theories. Not doing so would be a serious error in judgment.
Read more about Criminology Theories.
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