Academic journal article International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences

Role of Psychosocial Factors in Criminal Behaviour in Adults in India

Academic journal article International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences

Role of Psychosocial Factors in Criminal Behaviour in Adults in India

Article excerpt


Criminal behaviour is any behaviour or act that is in violation of the criminal law, whereas crime is the particular action representing such behaviour (Kamaluddin, Shariff, Othman, Ismail, & Ayu, 2015). "It is not itself, or criminality that is innate; it is certain peculiarities of the central and autonomic nervous system that react with the environment, with upbringing, and many other environmental factors to increase the probability that a given person would act in a certain antisocial manner" (Eysenck & Gudjonsson, 1989) (Bartol & Bartol, 2005). The impact of the interaction of these factors has been found in a few studies; however this remains an area that requires more research. The influence of family, personality, neighbourhood, socio economic status, peers and education has been focused upon.

Psychological Factors

Psychological factors encompass processes that take place at the individual-level as well as the meanings that one attributes to a particular situation which in turn affects our mental state (Upton, 2013). Cesare Lombroso (1810) viewed criminality as a product of abnormal psychological traits. This view was elaborated further by Hans Eysenck. Traits are more deterministic in nature as they are "dimensions of individual differences in tendencies to show consistent patterns of thoughts, feelings and actions" (Kamaluddin, Shariff, Othman, Ismail, & Ayu, 2015). Eysenck, in his theory of criminality, proposed that personality factors like extraversion, neuroticism and psychoticism are the prime causes of criminal behaviour and are the only "systematic method" available for the investigation of such behaviour. Personality traits contribute to one's tendency to engage in criminal behaviour (Levine & Jackson, 2004; Egan, McMurran, Richardson, & Blair, 2000; Listwan, 2001). He proposed that high neuroticism leads to higher persistence in people which makes crime a matter of routine that is continuously reinforced. The combined effect of high extraversion and high neuroticism interferes with learning social rules and conditioning, increasing the likelihood of criminal behaviour (Levine & Jackson, 2004). Psychoticism is believed to increase the rigidity of thought in a person and reduce sensitivity to guilt. The traits that correlate to form this super-ordinate trait include aggressive, cold, egocentric, impersonal, impulsive, antisocial, unempathetic, creative and tough minded (Ruch, n.d.)

Additional evidence of the role of underlying personality factors in criminal behaviour is provided by the Five Factor Model proposed by McCrae and Costa (1988) which represents a continuum between two extremes of these traits. It was found that neuroticism has shown positive correlation with criminal acts which is consistent with the findings of Eysenck' PEN Model. McCrae and Costa found that Eysenck's measure of P was related to the Big Five factors, Conscientiousness and Agreeableness (Zuckerman, Kuhlman, Joircman, Tcta, & Kraft, 1993). In addition to personality factors, other individual variables like intelligence, emotional behaviour and academic achievements also determine the chances of an individual to indulge in criminal behaviour (Clarbour, Roger, Miles, & Monaghan, 2009; Koolhof, Loeber, Wei, Pardini, & D'Escury, 2007).

Listwan (2001) in her research supported the notion that personality is an important risk factor and can assist our understanding of offenders both theoretically as an explanation for behaviour and practically for the application of treatment. Despite the firm theoretical base of Eysenck's theory in understanding criminal behaviour, situationalist theorists have often targeted its reliability. Theorists argue that behaviour varies not because of personality traits but due to the situation one is in and the characteristics of that situation (Smallbone & Cale, n.d.). Knowing the various circumstances, then, which may foster criminal behaviour is essential to be cognizant of

Social Factors

Social factors encompass those that are present in the society and influence the individual by their structure and course (Upton, 2013). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.