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Psychological Explanations
Forget Freud
Cognitive Explanations
Personality and Crime
IQ and Crime
Cognitive Explanations
• HOW we think
– Kholberg’s stages of moral devleopment
• Pre-conventional, conventional, post-conventional
– Social Skills
• Anger management
• Basic skills
Cognitive II
• What we think
– Rationalizations, “Pro-criminal Attitudes,”
“Criminal Thinking Errors”
• Prompts for criminal behavior
• Negative Reinforcement
Policy Implications
• “Cognitive Behavioral” therapy is the best
technology for rehabilitation
– Recent study: such programs, when targeting
the correct people reduce recidivism
anywhere from 10-60%
– Barkan: doesn’t address “structural factors”
• But, should we ignore immediate, individual
Personality and Crime
• General Personality Traits
– MMPI: Bias and Tautology
• Newest Test: MPQ
– Three Superfactors
Negative Emotionality
Positive Emotionality
CASPI and friends research
– Next Step?
Personality II
• The “Psychopath”
– Hervy Cleckly
• Above average intelligence, lying, leeching
behavior, lack of remorse, inability to love,
impulsive, risk seeking, superficial charm…
– Robert Hare’s “Pscyopathy Checklist” (PCL)
• Structured Interview tapping these characteristics
• Interesting Studies comparing “Psycho” inmates to
“non-psycho” inmates
– Treatment implications
IQ and Crime—A brief History
• Alfred Binet
– Series of tasks to identify “learning
disabilities” (IQ)
– 3 Cardinal Rules
• Scores are practical devices
• Not for ranking “normal children”
• Use to help, not label children
– Goddard and others violate all
IQ and crime
• As intelligence tests improve, IQ gap shrinks
– Sociologists: it will eventually disappear
– BUT—it hasn’t (8-10 point gap, weak effect)
• Why related?
– Spurious? (evidence against this)
– Direct?
– Indirect
• School Failure
• Delinquent Peers
• Impulsivity
Barkan’s Critique
• Use of small/non-representative samples
• Disregard of “structural factors,” and
cannot account for “group differences”
– Psychologists not answering macro questions
• Causal order remains unclear
• Focus on street crimes
Normal and Abnormal
• Do psychologists view offenders as
– Not necessarily (general personality, moral
• Zimbardo
• Milgram
– Irony is that evidence from psychologists are
used to criticize psychology