Begin by introducing yourself to your classmates and briefly explain what you may already know about criminal psychology and what you hope to learn from this course. After reading the Module One Discussion Scenario PDF, address the following: What influences a person’s motivation to commit a crime? Think about developmental, biological, and situational factors that contribute to the person’s behavior.
When responding to your peers, discuss whether you agree or disagree with the argument for motivation. Why or why not? Provide examples to support your rationale.
To complete this assignment, review the Discussion Rubric.
Hello everyone! My name is xxx and I’m a Psychology – Mental Health major. I wouldn’t say I know a lot about criminal psychology, but I did work in child abuse investigations and learned some about the minds of sexual predators, of which I know that they are often coming from a multigenerational cycle of abusers. I also watch a lot of crime shows but I know a lot of that is dramatized, so I look forward to learning about what really goes into assessing criminals psychologically.
Regarding the discussion scenario, there are a lot of potential contributing factors presented in Steve’s case. It’s important to note that none of these can be claimed to be the direct cause, only contributions that have been found through research and observation over time.
Biological factors to criminal behavior can include chromosomal abnormalities, structural brain differences, poor nutrition, prenatal exposure to substances like alcohol or drugs, direct exposure to toxins, and hormones (Films Media Group, 2001, 8:46). Due to his reported frequent anger, abuse of alcohol, single-parent household providing for three adolescent/adult age males, and direct handling of methamphetamine equipment, which is made with poisonous substances, Steve could likely have biological factors contributing to his criminal activity.
Potential environmental factors to criminal behavior include demographics such as type of upbringing, socioeconomic strata, friends/social reference groups, age, race, and sex, and geographic factors such as where a person lives, what the neighborhood is like, whether its urban or rural, and whether they have personal space/understand that concept (13:47). For Steve, being a 21-year-old male with uncles and a father he looks up to who are in prison, frequently spending time at a drop house, and never having been in a committed relationship (unstable support systems) might be underlying contributors to his behavior.
Psychological factors, like mental illness, temporary insanity brought on by substances, maladjustment from inner turmoil, personality disorders like antisocial personality disorder or the most severe, psychopathy, are all strong contributors to criminal activity. Developmental factors though, like abuse or neglect in childhood, modeling of aggression or violent behavior, criminal patterns, sexual violence, especially factors which lower the sense of self-worth within an individual, can all be aggravators to other contributing factors (19:27). For Steve, we can’t say whether there are psychological factors, but we can assume there is some impact from neglect and dysfunction due to his father being incarcerated and older brother being absent, immediately putting Steve in that pressured position to “rise above” without the means, a high motivator for criminal behavior.
Films Media Group. (2001). The psychology of criminal behavior. Films On Demand. ://fod.infobase.com/PortalPlaylists.aspx?wID=105049&xtid=115854.