Criminal psychology


It is important to remember that psychology is a branch of science that is responsible for studying the different phenomena that occur in people’s minds and today, the branch of criminal psychology has become a very important part in the field of the administration of justice . It intervenes either directly or indirectly to be able to draw a series of conclusions in criminal proceedings and is an indispensable factor in matters of care and possible treatment for those who have committed a crime.


Criminal psychology What is criminal psychology?

The criminal psychology is a branch of psychology that is responsible for conducting studies on how an individual who has committed a criminal act is behaving as well as the processes mental exercising his mind.



The psychology criminal is a science that makes a series of study regarding the behavior and the processes of ideas that occur in the mind of a criminal. It is in charge of studying all the thoughts and the way in which an individual thinks and executes a criminal act, focusing on finding answers about why the person acts in that way through scientific observation.


Characteristics of criminal psychology

Among the main characteristics of criminal psychology the following are mentioned:

  • It is a discipline of psychology as a science.
  • Look for reasons that motivate an individual to commit a crime .
  • Study mental processes that drive criminal activity.
  • It carries out a series of studies and analyzes in order to also understand and study the victim.
  • It studies genetic , environmental and social factors that influence the behavior of a person who commits a crime.
  • It is an interdisciplinary science .
  • Analyze endogenous and exogenous factors causing a crime.


In addition to psychology as one of its antecedents, there are other disciplines that are also part of the antecedents of this science, for example physiognomy , a science that considers that the soul and the body have a close relationship. The phrenology of Gall also part of the background, a theory which states that the cerebral part are an important part of the creation and implementation of a crime. So we pamper psychiatry , which involves mental illness.

Criminal psychology today has its antecedents in the nineteenth century when criminological positivism was born, which also had deterministic tendencies and which sought to demonstrate that some structural anomalies in the skull were normal in criminals. 


At the beginning of the 20th century, different perspectives began to be received from the psychological point of view regarding the behavior of a criminal and this at the same time gave rise to speculation about crimes. Initially it was based on clinical nature because the theories focused on the mental capacities of offenders that could be measured. At that time, theories focused on mental deficiencies and biological dispositions were the most important topics in criminal psychology.

In 1960 , a different type of criminology emerged, with more points in favor, and an interdisciplinary attempt was made to integrate the research carried out by psychologists into criminal behavior and legal matters . In 1964 the first statement was made on the behavior of criminals by a psychologist, an investigation that was based on the biological predisposition that could be attributed to the need to seek or avoid. 

Who is the father of criminal psychology

Johann Baptista Gustav Gross is considered the father of criminal psychology who was in charge in his time of creating the necessary mechanisms to be able to apply scientific and practical knowledge in the resolution of criminal matters.

What is it for

This type of psychology is used to understand and explain why a certain crime is committed by first studying the possible causes that motivate the individual to commit a crime as well as to carry out a series of studies on the personality of the person in order to be able to try in this way prevent and control violence and crime in the search for methods to reintegrate the person into normal life.

What do you study

Criminal psychology studies the mind and thoughts of the person who commits a crime, looks for reasons that may have motivated the performance of a certain criminal act in order to find the origin and motivation of it. Besides studying all possible factors internal and external that may have driven an individual to commit a crime such as age, gender and personality. Many experts consider it as a science that studies the soul of a criminal in a deep way to try with this, to study the criminal fact.


One of the main objectives of criminal psychology is to investigate the individual who has committed a crime in order to know the reason for his criminal behavior . Carry out psychodiagnostics that allow, from the psychological point of view, to establish a possible study of the personality in order to seek an adequate treatment that can then be readapted to the crime using a comprehensive therapy.

The make individual diagnoses or group is also one of the objectives of this science in order to learn important aspects about the kind of personality you have an offender. Through treatments, criminal psychology looks for ways to positively modify criminal behavior, reduce the level of aggressiveness and raise awareness.


Among the main functions of criminal psychology the following can be mentioned:

  • Finds and implements techniques to understand the origin of a crime in order to explain it later.
  • Prevents and tries to control criminal acts .
  • Conduct different interviews with criminals and witnesses or victims in order to establish a possible theory about the conflict.
  • Assesses the accountability of people who have been accused in legal trials.
  • It analyzes, in addition to the behavior of the individual, everything that surrounds him.
  • It looks for means to be able to prevent crimes through treatment programs for those people who have committed one.
  • Look for the measures to be established so that the victims can be less vulnerable.

Areas of criminal psychology

Among the areas where criminal psychology can be applied we find criminal analysis , the study and analysis of the crime itself, in the analysis of the offender’s behavior , in the police investigation , in the profiling of the criminal, conducting different interviews with victims already offended, creation of theories related to the conflict. It can also be applied in areas such as forensic , legal and clinical psychology .


There are no problems related to criminal psychology, however, on some occasions the same professionals can be affected due to the information they collect through interviews and tests.


This type of psychology is based on the psychosocial theories within which we find psychoanalysis, a theory that tries to establish the way in which the offender is regulated by his internal mechanisms. The culturalism is also part of the theories and is responsible for analyzing through anthropological field studies and the way in which a type of aggression appears and how it is linked to cultural factors. The explanatory theories are also part of the area, mainly related to the gut. The biological theory that establishes relationships between the brain and the way of acting, the instinct theory , of frustrationand social learning are also part of science.

How it differs from forensic psychology

The main difference between these two types of psychology is based on the fact that criminal psychology is in charge of determining the different psychological motives that may have motivated a person to commit a crime while forensic psychology is in charge of being able to analyze the effect it has caused. the crime in the victim , as well as the mental condition of the individual who committed the criminal act.


The main importance is that science tries to find reasons that help to understand a crime, to understand the causes that motivated it and to understand the person who committed the crime, giving after this, a series of tools to prevent a new crime. 


Some of the most important representatives of criminal psychology are:

  • Hans toch
  • Hans J. Eysenck
  • Edwin megargee
  • Hervey cleckley
  • Robert Hare


Some well-known examples that have been solved using criminal psychology are, for example, the case of the Plainfield Butcher, the murderer of the deck, the doctor death.

Books on criminal psychology

  • Inside the criminal mind.
  • Forensic Criminalistics (Police Sciences)
  • Criminology an introduction to its theoretical foundations

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