Psychological And Sociological Theory Of Criminal Behaviour

Psychological And Sociological Theory Of Criminal Behaviour

This article on ‘Psychological And Sociological Theory Of Criminal Behaviour‘ was written by Pooja Yadav, an intern at Legal Upanishad.


There are three theories of criminal behavior first is psychological second is sociological and third is biological. Criminal behavior, the word in itself indicates that it is denoting the behavior of the criminal. What made the criminal actually a criminal? What is the reason behind the development of criminal behavior in any individual? No one is by a birth criminal. There are things, situations, and circumstances which make them criminal.

Rehabilitation centers are there in the country to give a good and new life to the criminals who were not actually criminals but due to some circumstances and psychological and sociological reasons became criminals. The objective of the rehabilitation center is to provide a good environment and society in the center so that they can recover and understand real life. There are various theories on criminal behavior two of which were discussed in this article.   

Psychological Theory

The psychological explanations for criminal behavior come in a wide variety, from early Freudian ideas to more modern cognitive and social psychology explanations. I am unable to go over them all here. I shall instead enumerate the several underlying tenets of psychological theories of criminality (and human behavior in general). These are:

  • The primary analytical unit in psychological theories is the individual.
  • The primary motivating factor that influences people’s conduct is their personalities.
  • Social consensus typically defines what is normal.
  • Then, crimes would be the result of unnatural, unhealthy, or inappropriate mental processes within the person’s personality.
  • Criminal activity may provide a purpose for an individual if it fills certain perceived models, and coping with internal tensions is only a few of the causes of defective or dysfunctional mental processes. (1968 Mizel).
  • The psychological models’ final premise would imply that there are numerous causes or motivations for criminal behavior and that broad guidelines aimed at the individual would be effective for crime control.
  • The model, however, also presupposes the existence of a subset of a psychological criminal type, currently classified as having antisocial personality disorder in the DSM-IV and formerly classified as a sociopath or psychopath.

This kind of criminal displays abnormal conduct from a young age and is characterized by self – centeredness, a lack of empathy, and a propensity to use other people as tools to further their own goals. Controls would need to be more severe for these people, and general public regulations might not be strict enough to stop the actions of this small group of offenders.

We might first claim that traditional prison sentences, fines, and other court penalties are based on operant learning models of behavior for crime control in light of the six principles that have been identified as necessary to create psychological explanations of criminal behavior. Operant learning models are predicated on the utilitarian notion that everyone seeks to maximize pleasure and reduce suffering.

Examples 1:

There is person A who is psychologically very sensitive and due to aggressive circumstances and the environment he always used to be silent and his anger doesn’t find any way to come out. And slowly – slowly his anger and silence had made a home in his mind and resulted in his attempt to murder the person who had always made the environment of the home very toxic and his life very dead.

A is a 21-year-old person whose father always used to harass his mother and abuse her and it affects him very badly. His father also used to beat him and point him out for the small things like if he get poor marks in exams so he used to compare him with other relatives’ children he had never tried to upgrade his own child and motivate him for the better result in future.

So this behavior of his father had made him a criminal and of aggressive nature who is now prone to kill anyone who is of aggressive nature. So this example explains how circumstances or surrounding affects the psychology of a person and he automatically moves on the way of criminality.  

Example 2:    

In the movie of “Mardani,” the criminal is having a psychological problem. He was around 20-24 of age and he used to kill women because he had seen his father abusing her mother and saying that women are made to be tortured and harassed by men. They don’t have the right to live a good life.

In the movie, it was shown that his father orders him as well to beat her mother and he also used to follow his father ultimately all these scenes since his childhood affected his mental thinking and behavior and he after killing her mother started kidnapping and killing other women. He was a psycho and his psychological thinking which was changed by his father’s aggressive and toxic thinking and his behavior toward the psycho’s mother.

So all the circumstances, thoughts, and activities of his father had knowingly or unknowingly inculcated criminal behavior in him which resulted in the killing of various innocent life. The psycho in the movie and his father had also lost their lives which were given by God so first of all, they are criminals for killing their own life and then of other innocents. The criminal etiquette had created a massive disruption in innocent people’s life. It can be cured by positive thinking.

Psychological And Sociological Theory Of Criminal Behaviour
Psychological And Sociological Theory Of Criminal Behaviour

Sociological Theory

It is technically impossible for sociological and psychological theories of criminality to exist independently of one another. There are many sociological formulations of the cause and prevention of criminality, just like there are psychological ones. The following are the sociological concepts of criminality:

  • Attempting to make a connection between the criminal activity of the individual and the larger social structures and cultural norms of society, the family, or the peer group.
  • How the inconsistencies among all of these interacting groups fuel crime.
  • The historical development of these structures, cultures, and paradoxes.
  • The current transformational processes these organizations are going through.
  • Criminality is seen from the perspective of how it is socially constructed and the social factors that contribute to it.

Example 1:  

Here we can consider the above example of “Mardani” movie in which the sociological aspect is also involved and how it is involved let’s talk of it the father of the criminal was teaching him that the women were made to be tortured ad harassed by the men they don’t have any independent life. So how this thought came into the mind of the criminal’s father so here comes society.

There are many peoples in society who are of the opinion that women do not have their life independently they are always dependent on men and if they try to go out of home for finding their own way that can not be allowed in any way. So this movie shows how something from society had impacted the mentality of the criminal’s father and ultimately impacted his thinking as well and resulting in a crime and criminal.

Example 2:  

Major crimes happen in the nation because of society. There are both types of people in society one is good and another is bad. The ones who are good always try to inculcate and share good ideas with you but the ones who want your contribution to criminal activities would always promote you in the bad things. And this is how people get to indulge in criminal activities with the help of society (people around them).      

Suggestion and Conclusion

Any kind of psychological and sociological condition cannot only create or build criminal behavior in individuals but it can also result differently. If someone is having a toxic environment then it is required that they would try to differentiate between what is wrong and what is right actually and how they can come out of the bad environment and build a good life. There are many peoples in the world if we look around. They had made their life different from what it was actually. They had adopted the beauty of life instead of the criminality of life.

No one is born criminal societal thinking and psychological environment are the major aspects that make individuals criminal. It’s all about grasping you takes what you believe and what you believe makes your personality. It is required that people around such aggressive or sensitive people would help them and talk with them to heal them and help them to understand between wrong and right.