The Psychology of Criminal and Violent Behaviour

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2017-04-01
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?


This indispensable introduction to the psychological theories of criminality and violence examines how both psychology and biology play a role in understanding what may drive individuals to commit crime. Drawing on relevant research, real-world examples, and gripping case studies, The Psychology of Criminal and Violent Behaviour applies theory to provide deep insight into criminal behaviour.


A theoretical approach helps students identify and understand key psychological theories and concepts

Accessible content: While theoretical in approach, the material is presented in a way that meets the needs of both psychology and criminology students

Coverage of both psychological and biological factors on a range of topics--including reactive and instrumental violence, aggression, psychopathy, social cognition, and more--explores how and why criminal and violent behaviour occur

"Researching Criminal and Violent Behaviour" boxes discuss important research and topics in the field, including the Danish adoption study, the Bobo doll experiments, the Violence Risk Appraisal Guide, attachment theory, threat/control-override symptoms, and cyberstalking

Diverse case studies on such notorious figures as Phineas Gage, Charles Whitman, Richard Ramirez, the Manson Family, Karla Homolka, and Ethan Couch provide real-world examples of criminal and violent behaviour and help students apply theory to real life

Chapters on homicide and interpersonal violence provide piercing insight into topics like aggression and violent behaviour, serial murder, school shootings, stalking, intimate partner violence, and sexual violence

Author Biography

David R. Lyon is Associate Professor in the Department of Criminology at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Canada.

Andrew Welsh is Associate Professor and Associate Dean of the Faculty of Human and Social Sciences at Wilfrid Laurier University, Brantford, Canada.

Table of Contents

Each chapter includes learning objectives, a chapter-opening case study, an introduction, bolded key terms, a marginal glossary, "Researching Criminal and Violent Behaviour" boxes, a summary, review questions, and additional reading.
1. Introduction
Case Studies
What Is Criminal Behaviour?
The Sociological Construction of Crime
Case Study: Robert Bardo
Violent Behaviour
Theoretical Perspectives
Scientific Theories
Organization of This Book
2. Genetics and Evolution
Case Study: Jeffrey Landrigan
Behavioural Genetics
Case Study: The Kray Brothers
Putting It All Together: Genetic Predispositions and Behavioural Destiny
Case Study: Christopher Rocancourt
Sex Differences
Age-Crime Curve
3. Biology
Case Study: Chris Benoit
The Structure of the Brain
Brain Injury and Criminal Behaviour: General Evidence
Brain Plasticity and Early Head Injury
Specific Brain Regions and Criminal Behaviour
Case Study: Phineas Gage
Case Study: Charles Whitman
Putting It All Together: The Prefrontal Cortex and Limbic System
Lateralized Hemispheric Dysfunction
Putting It All Together: The Findings on Lateralization
Neurochemistry and Criminality
Putting It All Together: Neurotransmitters and Aggression
Psychophysiology and Crime
4. Developmental Pathways
Case Study: Ethan Couch
The Stability of Criminal Behaviour
Major Developmental Theories
Early Childhood Factors and Delinquency
Parental Practices and Delinquency
Peer and School Factors
5. Personality
Case Study: Dr. Amy Bishop
The Nature of Personality
Psychodynamic Theories of Personality
Attachment and Personality
Case Study: Aileen Wuornos
The Trait Perspective
Personality Disorders
Case Study: Rorschach
6. Psychopathy
Case Study: Clifford Robert Olson
The Clinical Description of Psychopathy
Case Study: Adremy Dennis
Assessing Psychopathy
Empirical Links between Psychopathy and Criminal Behaviour
Case Study: "Dave"
Psychopathy and Gender
Case Study: Joanna Dennehy
Psychopathy and Crime across the Lifespan
Psychopathy across Culture
Theoretical Explanations of the Psychopathy-Crime Link
Putting It All Together: A "Perfect Storm" for Crime
7. Learning
Case Study: Devalon Armstrong
Classical Conditioning
Case Study: Richard Ramirez
Operant Conditioning
Observational Learning
The Effects of Violent Media
Differential Association-Reinforcement Theory
Case Study: Henry Hill
Putting It All Together: DA-Reinforcement Theory in Action
8. Social Cognition
Case Study: Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab
Moral Reasoning
Moral Disengagement
Criminal Thinking
Hostile Thoughts and Affect
Social Interactions
Case Study: Lynndie England and US Military Personnel at Abu Ghraib
Social Information Processing Theories
Enactment of Antisocial and Violent Behaviours
Case Study: George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin
Putting It All Together: The General Aggression Model
9. Mental Disorder
Case Study: Rene Poole
Systems for Classifying Mental Disorders
Major Mental Disorders
Mental Disorder and Crime
Putting It All Together: The Relationship of Mental Disorder and Crime in Context
The Criminalization of Mental Disorder
Putting It All Together: Making Sense of Criminalization
Symptom-Based Theories of Crime
Case Study: Margaret Mary Ray
Case Study: Vincent Li
Factors Influencing the Relationship between Mental Disorder and Crime
Mental Disorder Creates "Tense Situations" That Lead to Violence
10. Substance Use
Case Study: Robert Osborne
Drug Use and Its Effects
Major Classes of Drugs
Goldstein's Tripartite Model
Case Study: Pablo Escobar
Putting It All Together: Making Sense of Psychopharmacological Violence
Theories of the Alcohol-Violence Relationship
Case Study: Shia LaBeouf
Putting It All Together: Integrating Theories of Alcohol-Related Aggression
11. Homicide
Case Study: The Manson Family Murders
Theoretical Models of Homicide
Case Study: The La Loche Shooter
Homicide in the Family
Multiple Murder
Case Study: The Green River Killer
Case Study: The Jonestown Massacre
Case Study: Adam Lanza and the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting
12. Interpersonal Violence
Case Study: Ray Rice
Intimate Partner Violence
Theories of Stalking and Intimate Partner Violence
Sexual Violence
13. Assessment and Treatment
Case Study: Karla Homolka
Risk of Offending
Risk Assessment of Offenders
The Clinical Versus Actuarial Debate
Putting It All Together: Good Risk Assessment Practices
Treatment of Offenders
Case Study: Darnell Pratt and Brendan Sarginson
How Effective Are Offender Treatment Programs?
Putting It All Together: Effective Programs in Practice

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