A crime is an unlawful act that is punishable by the state or other authorities. There are various factors that cause a crime, among which psychological factors also take part.

Psychologists approach the task of explaining delinquent and criminal behavior by focusing on the individual’s personality. In particular, they examine the process by which behavior and restraints in behaviors are learned.

People who are affected by personality disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar effective disorder, aggression, depression, adjustment disorders, and sexual disorders like paraphilias are most susceptible to criminal behavior.

The terms delinquency and criminal act are related to each other but not the same, delinquency refers to an act that is prohibited by the social norms, whereas a criminal act in violation of existing laws of the state.

Psychological Theories of Crime

These theories state that criminal behavior in an individual is the result of an individual’s differences in the thinking process. There are various psychological theories, but it is believed that it’s the person’s thoughts and feelings that dedicate their actions.

The various theories include:

  • Biological Theory

This theory states that a person inhibits criminal behavior. The biochemical effects such as diet, hypoglycemia, hormones, and neurophysiological (brain dysfunction) can be responsible for criminal behavior.

  • Psychological Theory

This theory defines the mentality of a person.  common psychological factors of crime include abnormal, dysfunctional, or inappropriate mental disorders of an individual. These people usually commit the crime without any reason. Most cases include suicidal tendencies or they even try to harm themselves.

  • Sociological Theory

These theories include both social as well as environmental factors which are majorly responsible for the crime. Poverty is one major reason that pushes the offender to commit the crime. Other factors involved are frustration, stress, etc.

There lie four basic ideas when it comes to common psychological factors of crime. The various theories formulated are a result of:

  • Failures in Psychological Development

Most people often get into trouble because they don’t develop the way others usually do and people do things they want without thinking about whether it’s right or wrong.

  • Learned Behavior of Violence & Aggression.

Most people often tend to become violent and aggressive when they are surrounded by aggression and violence around them. seeing violence and aggression around them they feel there is no wrong in such behaviors.

  • Inherent Personality Traits

Criminals tend to share few characteristics. It is also believed that certain personality traits predispose someone towards criminal behavior.

  • Relationship of Criminality to Mental Illness.

Few people having psychological disorders end up committing crimes.

Various Psychological Factors include:

  • Mental illness
  • Depression
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Lack of self-control
  • Deviant behavior

All these psychological factors of crime can have an adverse effect on someone who then indulges in various crimes becoming a habitual offender.


The role of the psychological factors of the crime is very evident in the criminal behavior of an individual. Social factors influence the relationship between psychological factors and the physical body.

The social factors are concerned with the social structure and practices that influence an individual.  Common psychological factors of a crime include individual-level processes and thoughts that influence mental states.

Categories: Psychology


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