Presentation on theme: "Psychological Explanations of Criminal Behaviour Violence and Homicide."— Presentation transcript:
Psychological Explanations of Criminal Behaviour Violence and Homicide
Definition of Dangerousness Behavior likely to result in physical and/or psychological trauma Mental health professionals involved in predicting future risk of dangerousness Accuracy of prediction: a complex & controversial task huge indicator is a hx of violent offending
Aggression & Violence Aggression: behavior perpetrated or attempted with the intention of harming another individual physically or psychologically or to destroy an object. Violence: Actual, attempted, or threatened physical harm that is deliberate and nonconsenting Includes violence against victims who cannot give full, informed consent Includes fear-inducing behavior, where threats may be implicit or directed at third parties All violent behavior is aggressive, but not all aggressive behavior is violent.
Types of Aggression Hostile (or expressive) aggression: occurs in response to anger-inducing conditions, such as real or perceived insults, physical attacks, or one’s own failures. Goal = to make victim suffer. Intense and disorganized emotion Instrumental aggression: begins with competition or the desire for some object or status possessed by another person. Goal = obtain desired object. No intent to harm, although indifferent.
Violence as a Choice The proximal cause of violence is a decision to act violently The decision is influenced by a host of biological, psychological, and social factors Neurological insult, hormonal abnormality Psychosis, personality disorder Exposure to violent models, attitudes that condone violence
Theoretical Perspectives on Aggression Frustration-aggression hypothesis: 1) the person is blocked from obtaining an expected goal; 2) frustration results, generating anger; and 3) anger predisposes or readies the person to behave aggressively. Social Learning: children learn, model/observe, their environment. The conditions most conducive to learning aggression are those in which the child (1) has many opportunities to observe aggression; (2) is reinforced for his or her own aggression; (3) is often the object of aggression. Rudiments of aggressive behavior acquired through observing aggressive models or direct experience, then refined and maintained by reinforcement (e.g., by feeling in control). Most research supports the notion that human aggression is primarily learned (early learning and socialization).
Cognitive Models of Aggression Hostile attribution bias: individual’s prone to violence are more likely to interpret ambiguous actions as hostile and threatening
Cognitive Self-Regulation and Violence self-regulatory mechanisms - (social learning and social cognition theory) weak cognitive control can facilitate impulsive actions thus in certain circumstances our actions are directed by external situation instead of cognitive
How do people with apparently “good” structures commit horrible crimes? social learning theory = under certain circumstances self-regulatory mechanisms become disengaged from conduct = may be what takes place in impulsive violence high levels of emotional arousal may infringe on self regulatory mechanisms dehumanizing - serial killers view victims as objects rather than humans - when person is humanized (i.e. killer gets acquainted, then harder to kill victim) people will engage in conduct that goes against their morals if dictated by figure with authority
Overt and Covert Aggressive Actions AggressionBehavior patterns EmotionsCognitionsdevelopment OvertDirect confrontation with victims; generally decreases with age Anger; high level of arousal and violence Lacks social cognitions for coming up with nonaggressive solutions Aggression begins early, especially for boys CovertConcealment, dishonesty, sneaky behavior, increases with age Less emotion; crimes such as fraud, larceny and theft Relies on cognitive capabilities, such as planfulness, deceitfulness Can evolve as well learned strategy to escape punishment
Homicide What is homicide? An act in which the life of one person is lost at the hands of another. Criminal homicide is murder when: Person who causes death means to cause death or means to cause bodily harm likely to result in death. First-, Second-degree murder, Manslaughter
Homicide Incidence and Patterns (2002) Frequency in Canada 582 criminal homicides (1% of violent crimes) 1.9 per 100, 000 Nature of Homicide in Canada Location (Private residence, 60%) Number of Victims (Lone victim, 94%) Victims (Male, Young, Family Members) Suspects (Male, Young, Known to victim)
Homicide General View of Homicide Reactive violence vs. Instrumental Violence Homicide is often the final word in an argument arising between people who know each other and who are engaged in their normal activities (Linden, 2004)
Homicide as “Crime of Passion” Cognitive Self-Regulation Excitation Transfer Theory (Zillman, 1979, 1983) Arousal produced in one situation can persist and intensify emotional reactions occurring in subsequent situations Impairment of cognitive processes Transfer of arousal from one situation to another most likely to occur if the person is unaware that he or she is still carrying some arousal.
Homicide as “Crime of Passion” Prior Event An aversive earlier event creates frustration, emotional arousal. Frustrating Event Anger and frustration from prior event influences subsequent emotions and appraisal of current events.
Homicide as “Crime of Passion” Prior Event An aversive earlier event creates frustration, emotional arousal. Frustrating Event Anger and frustration from prior event influences subsequent emotions and appraisal of current events. Cognitive Processes Impaired and subsequent actions are more impulsive.
Homicide as “Crime of Passion” Dispositional or Personality Perspective Violent Men (Hans Toch, 1969) Certain personalities more likely to react violently in certain circumstances. Violence can be traced to Habitual response patterns Past effectiveness in dealing with conflictual, interpersonal relationships Humiliation/Threats to reputation and status.
Homicide as “Crime of Passion” Dispositional or Personality Perspective Edwin Megargee (1966) The Undercontrolled offender: Few inhibitions against aggressive behaviour. Aggression becomes a habitual response when angry/upset. The Overcontrolled Offender Well-established inhibitions against aggressive behaviour, and rigidly adheres to them, even in the face of provocation. When frustration and provocation overwhelm – excessive violence
Homicide as “Cold Calculation” Multiple Murder Serial murder: A minimum of three victims over time Cooling-off period Spree murder: Three or more victims without a cooling-off period, usually at two or three different locations. Mass murder: Three or more victims at a single location with no cooling-off period between the killings
Homicide as “Cold Calculation” Criminal Profiling The process of identifying personality traits, behavioural patterns, geographical habits, and demographic features of an offender based on characteristics of the crime.
Homicide as “Cold Calculation” Assumptions of the profiling process: 1. The crime scene reflects the personality 2. The offender’s personality will not change 3. The method of operation remains similar Modus Operandi Actions and procedures an offender engages in to commit a crime successfully
Homicide as “Cold Calculation” Assumptions of the profiling process: 4. The signature will remain the same Personation or signature Anything that goes beyond what is necessary to commit the crime. Staging The intentional alteration of a crime scene prior to the arrival of the police.
Sexual Homicide What is Sexual Homicide? The intentional killing of a person during which there is sexual behaviour by the perpetrator. A sexual element (activity) as the basis for the sequence of acts leading to death.
Sexual Killers Slightly older, average age 28 years Single White, Aboriginal Paraphilia (up to 50% of cases) Sadism Criminal History (see Beauregard, 2012)
Sexual Killers - Victims Female strangers Female acquaintances Males White, Aboriginal – intraracial crimes Drug or alcohol users Prostitutes are frequent targets Children can be also
Sexual Killers – What they do Close contact killing techniques (hands, beating, stabbing) Disposed of body outdoors Kept souvenirs Only 10% had sex with body after death Less than 5% on average mutilated body parts Many engaged in overkill Many had sex with victim before death
Sexual Homicide Organized Type General traits: Planning and premeditation Maintenance of control of self and the victim Often the victim is moved from the abduction area to another secluded area Disorganized Type General traits: No premeditation or planning Impulsive, anger, extreme excitement Victim’s body left in view; no alteration of crime scene
Serial Killers A Profile of the “Typical” Serial Killer Diagnosis of Mental Illness Absence of Axis I disorders Psychopathy, Major personality disorders Age Relatively older (Median age of 36 years) Criminal History History of non-violent offences, No juvenile history Geographic location: Specific location A large number select victims near their current residence or place of work.
Serial Killers Typology of Serial Killers The Visionary Serial Killer Motivation Delusional visions and/or thoughts. Pattern of Homicide Highly disorganized; Spontaneous with little planning. Ed Gein He believed that by eating the corpses of women who looked like his mother, he could preserve his mother's soul inside his body (creating furniture with skin and body parts)
Serial Killers Typology of Serial Killers The Mission-Oriented Serial Killer Motivation A belief there is a particular group of people who are undesirable and who must be destroyed or eliminated. Not psychotic; Function on a day-to-day basis without demonstrating aberrant behaviour. Peter Sutcliffe He claimed voices told him to clean up the streets of prostitutes (also had a fight with a hooker for payment… UK, prostitute user) – murdered 13 women
Serial Killers Typology of Serial Killers The Hedonistic Serial Killer Motivation Kills for the sheer pleasure Aspect they enjoy varies Lust Killer, Thrill Killer, Creature-Comfort Killer Dave Berkowitz (“Son of Sam”) Got a thrill out of shooting young couples in cars at random and then running away without ever physically touching the victims (enjoyed publicity)
Serial Killers Typology of Serial Killers The Power/Control Serial Killer Motivation To gain and exert power over their victim Pattern of Homicide Ritualistic Elements Cameron Hooker Kidnapped a woman and held her hostage as a sex slave for several years (the woman in a box)
Serial Killers Psychology and Development Little valid empirical knowledge The MacDonald Triad Some serial killers display one or more of the following warning signs in childhood (unvalidated theory) 1. Fire-Starting 2. Cruelty to Animals 3. Persistent Bedwetting
Risk Assessment only an aid to expert testimony Relevant indicators for future crime Previous violent conduct Substance abuse hx Young age Risk Assessment Tools: -HCR-20 -VRAG PCL-R Will – Did (True Positive) Did Not (False Positive) Will Not – Did (False Negative) Did Not (True Negative)
Risk Prediction Will – Did (True Positive) Did Not (False Positive) Will Not – Did (False Negative) Did Not (True Negative) Will Commit an offense Will Not Commit an offense Did (True Positive)Did (False Negative) Did not (False Positive) Did not (True negative)
Risk Assessment tools They change depending on recent research Must stay up to date! Must have the qualifications to use the tool Must understand certain risk factors and literature behind it
VRAG-R Living with both parents until age 16 – no Elementary school maladjustment – severe History of alcohol or drug problems Marital status – never married Lots of previous nonviolent convictions Failure on conditional release Age at index offense (younger = more risk) Lots of previous violent convictions
VRAG-R Prior admissions to correctional institutions (more = risky) Conduct Disorder Sex Offending (hands on, female adult) PCL-R, facet 4, antisociality
HCR-20 Historical Scale (History of problems with...) H1. Violence H2. Other Antisocial Behavior H3. Relationships H4. Employment H5. Substance Use H6. Major Mental Disorder H7. Personality Disorder H8. Traumatic Experiences H9. Violent Attitudes H10. Treatment or Supervision Response
HCR-20 Clinical Scale (Recent problems with...) C1. Insight C2. Violent Ideation or Intent C3. Symptoms of Major Mental Disorder C4. Instability C5. Treatment or Supervision Response
HCR-20 Risk Management Scale (Future problems with...) R1. Professional Services and Plans R2. Living Situation R3. Personal Support R4. Treatment or Supervision Response R5. Stress or Coping
Publicity and serial killers…. Forensic Awareness, how much they know about the police process and how to thwart it