Category Archives: Criminal behaviour

Quick links for the last week

New issues:

  • Law and Human Behavior 34(5) Recidivism risk, psychopathy, informants, quality of forensic examiners and more
  • Criminal Justice Matters 81(1) Articles on pre-crime, masculinity & violence, probation, secure envts & more
  • Psychology, Crime & Law 16(8) Articles on execution, prisoners, rape myths, child abuse, eyewitness testimony

New research articles:

  • Murder–suicide: A reaction to interpersonal crises. Forensic Science International 202(1-3)
  • The role of perpetrator similarity in reactions toward innocent victims Eur J Soc Psy 40(6) Depressing.
  • Detecting concealed information w/ reaction times: Validity & comparison w/ polygraph App Cog Psych 24(7)
  • Eliciting cues to children’s deception via strategic disclosure of evidence App Cog Psych 24(7)
  • Can fabricated evidence induce false eyewitness testimony? App Cog Psych 24(7) Free access
  • In press, B J Soc Psy Cues to deception in context. Apparently ‘context’ = ‘Jeremy Kyle Show’. Can’t wait for the paper!
  • Narrative & abductive processes in criminal profiling Free if u register for Sage trial
  • Children’s contact with incarcerated parents: Research findings & recommendations American Psych 65(6)
  • Comparing victim attributions & outcomes for workplace aggression & sexual harassment in J App Psych 95(5)
  • Correctional Psychologist Burnout, Job Satisfaction, and Life Satisfaction. In Psych Services 7(3)
  • It’s okay to shoot a character. Paper on morals in video games
  • Perceptions about memory reliability and honesty for children of 3 to 18 years old –

And some other links of interest:

Quick links for the last couple of weeks

Oh dear, the automatic Twitter updates feature needs attention. Sigh. Meanwhile, here’s what I’ve been tweeting about:

The most important tweet of the last two weeks was notification that Sage Pubs are offering FREE online access to their entire collection until October 15, 2010. Sage do this every year or so and it’s a great time to stock up new and classic research. Register here:

Once you’ve done that, check out new issues of the following Sage journals:

Also out, the first September issue of JUSTINFO, published by NCJRS. Funding opps, new publications, courses, resources etc

In other non-forensic journals, the following articles caught my eye:

  • Meta-analytic comparison of 9 violence risk assessment tools. Psychological Bulletin 136(5):740-767
  • Construct-driven development of video-based situational judgment test for police integrity
  • Unconfirmed loss of husband has specific negative mental health consequences vs suffering a confirmed loss
  • Social ties & short-term self-reported delinquent behaviour of personality disordered forensic outpatients
  • Prediction & expln of young offenders’ intentions to reoffend from behavioral, normative & control beliefs
  • Psych Bulletin 136(5) Surviving the Holocaust: A meta-analysis of the long-term sequelae of a genocide.
  • Screening offenders for risk of drop-out and expulsion from correctional programmes –
  • Distinguishing truthful from invented accounts using reality monitoring criteria – 온라인 룰렛
  • Can people successfully feign high levels of interrogative suggestibility & compliance when given instructions to malinger?
  • New research – FMRI & deception: “The production and detection of deception in an interactive game” in _Neuropsychologia_
  • And in the free access PLoS1: fMRI study indicates neural activity associated with deception is valence-related. PLoS One 5(8).

Other bits and pieces, including retweets:

  • “How to Catch a Terrorist: Read His Brainwaves-ORLY?” Wired Danger Room is sceptical about P300 tests as CT measure
  • RT@vaughanbell: Good piece on the attempts to get dodgy fMRI lie detection technology introduced to the courtroom.
  • NPR: A Click Away: Preventing Online Child Porn Viewing
  • How Can We Help Gang Members Leave the Violence Behind? Share your thoughts on the newest PsycCRITIQUES Blog entry
  • Do prison conditions have more of a deterrent effect on crime than the death penalty?
  • Great documentary with forensic issues regarding induced delusional or acute polymorphic psychotic disorder:

Tackling Football Hooliganism: A Quantitative Study of Public Order, Policing and Crowd Psychology

It’s been a very long time since I’ve spotted an article in Psychology, Public Policy, and Law that I’ve wanted to read (is it just me or has it been incredibly dull over the last few issues?). But here’s one that sounds interesting, appears theoretically sound and of practical value:

This paper contributes to the science of crowd dynamics and psychology by examining the social psychological processes related to the relative absence of “hooliganism” at the Finals of the 2004 Union Européenne de Football Association (UEFA) Football (Soccer) Championships in Portugal. Quantitative data from a structured observational study is integrated with data from a questionnaire survey of a group associated ubiquitously with ‘hooliganism’ – namely England fans. This analysis provides support for the contention that the absence of ‘disorder’ can be attributed in large part to the non-paramilitary policing style adopted in cities hosting tournament matches. Evidence is presented which suggests that this style of policing supported forms of non-violent collective psychology that, in turn, served to psychologically marginalise violent groups from the wider community of fans. The study highlights the mutually constructive relationships that can be created between psychological theory, research, policing policy and practice, particularly in relation to the successful management of ‘public order’. The paper concludes by exploring some of the wider implications of this research for theory, policy, the management of crowds, social conflict, and human rights more generally.


Why English youths are more violent than Swedish youths

mylifeincrimeOne article in particular from the latest issue of European Journal of Criminology (Vol. 5, No. 3) caught my eye. Per-Olof H. Wikstr?m and Robert Svensson report findings of a study to uncover why English youths are more violent than Swedish youths. At first glance it seems as if Wikstrom and Svensson are engaged in a circular argument:

… we use data from the English Peterborough Youth Study and the Swedish Eskilstuna Youth Study. The findings show that in both cities (1) young people’s self-reported violent behaviour is predicted by crime propensity and lifestyle, and their interaction, and (2) a substantial proportion (40 percent) of the difference in the level of violence vanishes when taking into account national differences in young people’s crime propensity and lifestyles. We conclude that the findings support the notion that one major cause of the difference in the level of violence among young people in England and Sweden is that more young people in England have a higher crime propensity and are living criminogenic lifestyles than in Sweden [from the abstract].

In other words, it looks as if they’re arguing that youths in England are criminals because they live a criminal lifestyle (a bit like this study reported in Improbable Research). In fact, it’s rather more interesting than that.

Here’s the theoretical framework Wikstrom and Svensson use to explore the data:

Two central ideas in criminology are that crime involvement is a consequence of (1) individual crime propensity and (2) criminogenic features of the environments to which an individual is exposed… One recent theory that takes into account the role of the individual–environment interaction in the explanation of crime is the situational action theory of crime causation … The cornerstone of the situational action theory is the assertion that human actions (including acts of crime and violence) are an outcome of how individuals perceive their ‘action alternatives’ and make their choices as a result of the interaction between their individual characteristics and experiences (propensities) and the features of the behaviour setting in which they take part (environmental inducements) [p.311].

Wikstrom and Svensson’s analysis indicates that not only are there more youths with higher levels of crime propensity in Peterborough compared to Eskilstuna but they also have lifestyles that are more ‘criminogenic’, i.e., they do things that put them into risky settings, which are more likely to prompt or facilitate criminal behaviour. Interesting stuff.


Other articles in this issue include:

  • The Greek Connection(s): The Social Organization of the Cigarette-Smuggling Business in Greece – Georgios A. Antonopoulos
  • How Serious Is the Problem of Item Nonresponse in Delinquency Scales and Aetiological Variables?: A Cross-National Inquiry into Two Classroom PAPI
  • Self-Report Studies in Antwerp and Halmstad – Lieven Pauwels and Robert Svensson
  • Self-Control in Global Perspective: An Empirical Assessment of Gottfredson and Hirschi’s General Theory Within and Across 32 National Settings – Cesar J. Rebellon, Murray A. Straus, and Rose Medeiros
  • Reassessing the Fear of Crime – Emily Gray, Jonathan Jackson, and Stephen Farrall

Photo credit: Marxchivist, Creative Commons License

New issue: Psychology, Crime & Law


The latest issue of Psychology, Crime & Law (Volume 14 Issue 3) is one of those issues where almost all the articles look tempting. Given my particular interest in deception I’ll be starting with Granhag and Hartwig’s intriguing offering on mind-reading and deception detection, but the articles on how TV affects legal decision making and linking crimes in serial homicide will be next on the list.

Here’s the line-up:

  • What judges know about eyewitness testimony: A comparison of Norwegian and US judges (Svein Magnussen; Richard A. Wise; Abid Q. Raja; Martin A. Safer; Nell Pawlenko; Ulf Stridbeck)
  • A new theoretical perspective on deception detection: On the psychology of instrumental mind-reading (P?r Anders Granhag; Maria Hartwig)
  • Perceptions of children during a police interrogation: Guilt, confessions, and interview fairness (Allison D. Redlich; Jodi A. Quas; Simona Ghetti)
  • ‘Objection, Your Honor! Television is not the relevant authority.’ Crime drama portrayals of eyewitness issues (Sarah L. Desmarais; Heather L. Price; J. Don Read)
  • Behavioural crime linking in serial homicide (Pekka Santtila; Tom Pakkanen; Angelo Zappalà; Dario Bosco; Maria Valkama; Andreas Mokros)
  • What do prisoners want? Current concerns of adult male prisoners (Mary McMurran; Eleni Theodosi; Anna Sweeney; Joselyn Sellen)

Bees join hunt for serial killers*

beeYes indeed. The BBC News website today (30 July 2008) reports on some research on the way in which bees seek food which “could help detectives hunt down serial killers, scientists believe”.

Here’s some more from the report:

Just as bees forage some distance away from their hives, so murderers avoid killing near their homes, says the University of London team. This “geographic profiling” works so well in bees, the scientists say future experiments on the animals could now be fed back to improve crime-solving. The team’s work is reported in the Royal Society journal Interface.

“We’re really hopeful that we can improve the model for criminology,” Dr Nigel Raine, from Queen Mary, University of London (QMUL), told BBC News.

Later the report reveals that the research team includes Kim Rossmo, detective-turned-geo-profiler.

Instead of using information about the distribution of flowers visited by bees to explain the insects’ behaviour, criminologists’ models will use details about crime scenes, robbery locations, abandoned cars, even dead bodies, to hone the search for a suspect.

“Bees have much simpler brains and so understanding how bees are recruited to flowers is much easier than understanding the complex thoughts of a serial murderer,” Dr Raine said.

Well the cynics would say that’s one reason why a bee-model might have some limitations when it comes to hunting serial killers.

Here’s the reference:

*In the entertaining headline contest, the BBC lags far behind the Royal Society with “Bees can help detectives to ’sting’ criminals” and the Welcome Trust with “Criminal Bee-haviour“. Is no one going to use “scientists set a honey-trap for murderers”? (I’ll get my coat.)

UPDATE: Thank you to Aaron Jacklin for a link to the pre-publication paper [pdf] on Nigel Raine’s QMUL web pages.

Photo credit: Automania, Creative Commons Licence

Research reports round-up

ex libris gul law reports collectionSome of the criminal justice-related reports that have caught my eye in the last few weeks:


Crime and Communities Review (UK, published 18 June, Cabinet Office): A major review examining how to better engage communities in the fight against crime and raise public confidence in the Criminal Justice System – link to pdf downloads.

Gangs at the Grassroots: Community solutions to street violence (UK, published 17 July 2008, New Local Government Network) – pdf


Witness and victim experience survey: early findings (UK, published 3 July 200, Ministry of Justice) – pdf

Enhancing Law Enforcement Response to Victims: A 21st Century Strategy (US, International Association of Chiefs of Police) – pdf (Hat tip Docuticker)

First Response to Victims of Crime (US, published April 2008, National Sheriffs Association) – pdf (Hat tip Docuticker)

Police Enforcement Strategies to Prevent Crime in Hot Spot Areas (US, Department of Justice) – pdf (Hat tip Docuticker)

Serial Murder: Multi-Disciplinary Perspectives for Investigators (US, FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit) – pdf (Hat tip Docuticker)


International profile of women’s prisons (UK, published April 2008, Kings College London for HM Prison Service) – pdf (Hat tip Intute)

Prosecuting Sexual Violence in Correctional Settings: Examining Prosecutors’ Perceptions (US, published May 2008, American University, WCL Research Paper, via SSRN)


Violence by Teenage Girls: Trends and Context (US, published May 2008, US Department of Justice) – pdf (Hat tip Docuticker)

Differential Response to Reports of Child Abuse and Neglect (US, published February 2008, Child Welfare Information Gateway) – pdf (Hat tip Docuticker)

Photo credit: ex_libris_gul, Creative Commons License

The influence of Muslim headgear and induced affect on aggressive responses in the shooter bias paradigm

muslim headgearOn the third anniversary of the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, an innocent man shot dead by police in London who thought he was a suicide bomber, a timely and depressing article currently in press in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology:

Does Islamic appearance increase aggressive tendencies, and what role does affect play in such responses? In a computer game, participants made rapid decisions to shoot at armed people, some of whom wore Islamic head dress. We predicted and found a significant bias for participants to shoot more at Muslim targets. We also predicted and found that positive mood selectively increased aggressive tendencies towards Muslims, consistent with affect-cognition theories that predict a more top-down, stereotypical processing style in positive mood. In contrast, induced anger increased the propensity to shoot at all targets. The relevance of these results for our understanding of real-life negative reactions towards Muslims is discussed, and the influence of affective states on rapid aggressive responses is considered.


Photo credit: “Muslim Crop” by Olly Farrell, Creative Commons License

Policing 2(2): special edition on Crime Science


The latest issue of Policing (vol 2 no 2) is a special edition on Crime Science featuring in particular the work of the Jill Dando Institute at University College London .

Contents include Ken Pease wondering How to Behave Like a Scientist? and articles on Mathematics, Physics, and Crime, Evolutionary Psychology and Fear of Crime, Crime Prevention Strategies, Forensic Geoscience, Vulnerable Localities, Mobile Phone Crime, Evaluating Crime Prevention and Technology and Policing.

Two articles not part of the special edition on whether Northern Ireland is a model for Post-conflict Police Reform and on the Policing of Fraud.

Abstracts and access to full text articles (subscription required) here.

Power, Anger, and Sadistic Rapists and other articles in the latest issue of International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology

fearThe August 2008 issue of International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology (Vol. 52, No. 4) is out, and contains (as usual) an interesting range of articles.

Here’s one that will be of particlar interest to those interested in psychological profiling of offenders – the theory that particular types of offending behaviour may be associated with particular personality traits. In discussing a Differentiated Model of Offender Personality, Angela Pardue and Bruce A. Arrigo wisely steer clear of the tricky issue of whether the personality characteristics of unknown offenders can be inferred from behavioural and crime scene data (see Alison et al., 2002) but instead explore the relevance of classifying rapists to “effective diagnosis, treatment, and prevention” (p.385). They explain that although several ‘rapist typologies’ exist, such typologies simply describe the type of offending behaviour and

“missing from the literature on rape offenders is any coherent classification schema that describes the personality structure and operation (i.e., profile) of these different, although related, forms of sexual offending (Douglas et al., 2006). Thus, although researchers agree that the tactics and behaviors of rapist types differ, no single taxonomy has been developed that adequately accounts for personality properties” (p.384).

They use a case study method to demonstrated how such a taxonomy might be developed, through a detailed analysis of the offending behaviours and personality characteristics of three well-known offenders: Gilbert Escobedo, Paul Bernardo and Jeffrey Dahmer. They conclude:

Admittedly, the [three case study] analysis is limited in scope and is not generalizable to a larger sample of rapists… [But] the findings from this heuristically oriented case study inquiry suggest that rapists are a heterogeneous group who must be studied as such. Consequently, additional investigations on rapist types and personality composition should be undertaken. This includes the construction of theoretical frameworks and the development of classification taxonomies that lead to empirical analyses (p.397).


Also in this issue of International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology:

  • Ron Langevin and Suzanne Curnoe – Are the Mentally Retarded and Learning Disordered Overrepresented Among Sex Offenders and Paraphilics?
  • Tomer Einat and Amela Einat – Learning Disabilities and Delinquency: A Study of Israeli Prison Inmates
  • Eric L. Sevigny and Phyllis D. Coontz – Patterns of Substance Involvement and Criminal Behavior: A Gender-Based Cluster Analysis of Pennsylvania Arrestees
  • Mally Shechory and Avital Laufer – Social Control Theory and the Connection With Ideological Offenders Among Israeli Youth During the Gaza Disengagement Period
  • Connie Ireland and Bruce Berg – Women in Parole: Respect and Rapport

Photo credit: “Medo / Fear” by xaimex, Creative Commons License