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Understanding Human Behavior and Crime

(3 cr.) - Session(s): Spring | Course Every Year

This course tries to give an answer to why people commit crimes by considering personality factors of the offender in response to situational variables. The focus will be on theories of crime, biological and psychological models of criminal behavior, crime and mental disorders, human aggression and violent crime, de;omqiemt behavior from criminal behavior, how to provile an offender based on their actions, risk factors in human development and policies of crime prevention. The psychological implications of criminal behavior, criminal justice decision-making, jury selection, witness recall, sentencing, prisonization, and correctional treatment. Considering physiological, psychological and pharmacological factors, we explore the influences of family, peers and the effects of alcohol and drugs on the incidence of criminal behavior. And we examine how the urban and social environment encourages (or inhibits) opportunities to commit crime. Recent research findings will be incorporated in the readings. 

Students completing this course will be able to: 

  • Describe key concepts and propositions of psychological models of criminal behavior
  • Distinguish deviant behavior from criminal behavior
  • Identify the different perspectives on human nature that underlie the theoretical development and research of criminal behavior
  • Describe psychological implications of interactions between criminal justice professionals and both offenders and citizens in law enforcement, court and corrections settings
  • Explain how family background and substance abuse may impact on psychological processes that impact the incidence of criminal behavior
  • Explain research methodologies commonly employed in the field of criminal psychology, as well as a capacity for analyzing their strengths and weaknesses
  • Describe critically specific offenses and apply psychological models of criminality to case studies.

Contact Information
141 Johnson Hall
(919) 760-8593