Psychology is defined as the science of behaviour and the mind. The different types of psychologies include criminal, cognitive, forensic, developmental, and social psychology. The major difference between criminal psychology and forensic psychology is that Criminal psychology deals with all matters concerning criminal behaviour. In contrast, forensic psychology applies the knowledge and principles of psychology to the criminal and justice system. 

Both criminal psychology and forensic psychology work closely with the law enforcement system. Criminal psychology usually deals with examining the individual criminal behaviours and diagnosing any mental health conditions in an individual. Forensic psychology is a field that mixes the practice of psychology and law.

There are specific differences between criminal psychology and forensic psychology, which are explained in detail further in this article.

Forensic Psychology and Criminal Psychology

Forensic psychology deals with the applications of psychology to legal matters to provide expert testimony in a court of law. It is applicable in both civil and criminal cases. On the other hand, criminal psychology refers to the study of thoughts, views, intentions, actions, and reactions of the offenders.

Criminal psychology is associated with criminal anthropology. It deeply studies the factors that lead an individual to commit the crime and the consequences or response to the crime.

Criminal psychologists play various roles such as creating a psychological profile of an offender, consulting with law enforcement agencies, assessment of the criminals. They also research crime statistics and crime patterns.

The criminal psychologist also provides expert testimony in the court of law and teaches at a college level. In contrast, forensic psychologists play a vital role in conducting interviews, administering various psychological tests, and gathering the forensic history of the offender, which includes information like police reports, hospital records, and statements of the witness.

Difference Between Criminal Psychology and Forensic Psychology

The various difference between the two types of psychology are enlisted in the table given below:

DefinitionCriminal psychology deals with the examination of wills, responses, thoughts, and the intentions of the offender behind the crime.Forensic psychology is concerned with the connection between the legal system and the application of psychology in it
CourseStudents who aspire to join a BSc course in criminal psychology must have passed their graduation in either arts or science.Students who aspire to join the BSc course in forensic psychology should have passed their 10+2 and should have a strong background in science-related subjects.
Role Determine the offender’s reason for the commission of the crime. Focuses on understanding the psychological motives behind the crime. Interviewing criminals to know about their family background and early life. Evaluating the scene of crime, witnesses, victims, and assessing these elements concerning the suspects of a crime, Profiling of the offender to help law enforcement agencies to apprehend the offender after a crime is committed. Study and analyze thoughts, and state of mind after committing a crime. Analyze the after-effects of the offense and impacts upon its victims. They apply the knowledge of psychology to the criminal justice system and frequently deals with the legal aspect of criminal justice.They study and advise on crime prevention policies, rehabilitation systems. They provide victims of the crime with psychological services. Evaluate the offenders and analyze the likelihood of reoffending. They testify in the court of law on criminal forensic matters.


Both the terms criminal psychology and forensic psychology are used by many people interchangeably, however, there are few distinctions in both.

The difference between forensic psychology and criminal psychology is that forensic psychology is usually the meeting point between psychology and the criminal justice system while criminal psychology deals with the examination of the thoughts, responses, the intention of the offender.

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