Personality Characteristics and Criminal Behavior


Assignment 2: RA 2: Personality Characteristics and Criminal Behavior

A particular set of personality characteristics does not turn a person into a criminal. However, criminals may have the same set of characteristics. This concept may not be easy to understand. Here is another example: all college graduates have attended college, but not everyone who attended college is a college graduate. The mistake that “if A then B” is the same as “if B then A” is a common one in research, criminal investigation, and profiling.

Criminal profiling is a difficult task. Complete the following three parts and present them in your report.

Part I

Identify at least five offense characteristics of each of the following crimes: sex offense, murder, acquisitive crime, organized crime, and terrorism.

Part II

Choose two offenses for those listed in Part I. Using the selected characteristics, complete the following for each of the two offenses you selected:

Analyze the selected characteristics to develop a forensic profile for that particular type of offense. For example, how would you use the two offense characteristics you have selected for murder to develop inferences regarding the personality of a murderer?

Explain how an offender’s level of cognitive and emotional functioning, as well as social and environmental factors, could contribute to his or her maladaptive behavior in each of the above offenses.

Identify and justify the types of tests and/or personality measures that might be used to gather additional information for each of the two offenses.

Identify and justify the type of collateral information you would need to learn about the offender in the case of each of the two crimes.

Part III

Identify the differences between ethical standards in a criminal investigation and ethical standards in a psychological interview.

Offer your recommendations for future research needed to advance the science and research of psychological profiling techniques.

Discuss the different ethical considerations one must follow as an investigator and as a psychologist.


 Personality Characteristics and Criminal Behavior

Despite the increase of awareness in the police force and other security agencies on the techniques that are commonly utilized by criminals, they always find a way round the traps and rules to carry out their activities.  Criminologists spend long hours trying to study the nature, extent, management, causes, control, consequences, and prevention of criminal behavior both on the individual and social levels. With the advancement and improvement in technology, criminals have devised new ways to get to their victims and carry out their animosity (Turvey, 2011). Psychologists believe that social and physical environment can influence a criminal behavior in a person.  Besides, statistic shows that just a little percentage of the criminals worldwide are influenced by genes from their relatives who were renowned criminals. This essay will attempt to examine how criminal profiling aid investigators in tracking, predicting criminal behavior as well as arresting criminal suspects.

Part 1

There are different types and categories of criminal activities that attract different fines and verdicts from the judges or juries. One of the most common offenses in the world today is sex offenses which can be described as knowingly engaging another individual in unwanted sex by the act of force or threat. Notably, there are seven major types of sex-related crimes that include:

  1. Indecency with a child
  2. Rape
  • Statutory rape
  1. Sexual assault of a child
  2. Possession of a child pornography
  3. Sex offender registration violations
  • The Internet sex crimes

Often, sex offenders take advantage of their victim’s ignorance to hurt them, but if people are keen they can help reduce if not eliminate sex offenses in the society. Some of the common characteristics of sex offenses include:

  1. Have many victims – sex offenders have more than one victim. Recent statistics show that sex offenders who sexually victimize their victims have more than 20 different victims
  2. Offenders can be the most unsuspected people in the society – Interestingly, most individuals still think they can identify sex offenders just by their appearance.
  3. Only a small percentage of sex offenses are carried out by strangers – most of the sex offenders are trusted individuals in the society(Chiesa, 2008).
  4. Offenders often seek to create an atmosphere of trust before pouncing on vulnerable people
  5. Sexual offenders try to minimize their criminal activities


Most people around the globe have a feeling that murder is the worst and greatest crime that an individual can commit. Murder is usually defined as the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another. Murder is usually divided into three broad categories that include:

  1. Justifiable homicide
  2. Manslaughter
  • First and second-degree murders

Below are five main offense characteristics of murder:

  1. a) The highest percentages of murders around the world are committed by men
  2. b) Jealousy and range are key contributors to murder
  3. c) Most of the murderers are manipulators and manipulate their victims not to draw suspicions.
  4. d) Most of the murders are committed by young people between the age of 20 and 30.
  5. e) Most of those who commit murders, especially serial killers come from dysfunctional families.

Acquisitive crime

Some of the criminal activities undertaken by individuals are meant for material gain for the offender both monetary and non-monetary gains (Kocsis, 2007). Acquisitive crime is an example of a crime where the offender derives material gain from the crime. Some of the common examples of acquisitive crime include:

  1. Theft
  2. Burglary
  • Robbery

However, Acquisitive crime has characteristics such as:

A criminal act usually occurs when there is a motive, a means, and opportunity. Some of the common characteristics of acquisitive crime include:

  1. Acquisitive criminals have anti-social values that include criminal rationalization.
  2. Acquisitive crime acts are peer influenced, and these criminals have other criminal friends who are associated with crime.
  3. Acquisitive crime offenders often practice substance abuse
  4. Acquisitive criminals have low self-control
  5. Acquisitive offenders often display anti- social personalities that include atypical behavior(Meyer, 2008).

Organized crime

Organized crime dates back in the 1920s that ranged from a bank robbery, kidnapping, auto theft, gambling and drug trafficking.  Organized crime is a serious crime planned, coordinated and conducted by individuals working together on a continuous basis. Some of the most common characteristics of organized crime include:

  1. a) Organized crime exhibits great teamwork among the members of a criminal group
  2. b) All organized crime acts have to uphold strict hierarchical structure that governs a particular group
  3. c) Involves high levels of planning
  4. d) There is only one single and centralized authority of the group
  5. e) There is high division of labor in the criminal group


Terrorist activities have been on the rise in recent years, and it is widely associated with the Muslim community who are known to have stance stand against the American government. Terrorism comprises the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce individuals primarily for political gains. There are different types of terrorism that include: state-sponsored terrorism, dissent terrorism and terrorists and the Left and Right (Bartol, 2014). Common characteristics of terrorism include:

  1. a) Dedication to succeed – most of the terrorism activities require fedayeen and people who are prepared to sacrifice anything for the greater and higher call.
  2. b) Terrorism activities require personal bravery to carry out all the tasks assigned to them
  3. c) All terrorists should not exhibit any human emotions of pity and remorse to be in a position to carry out these deadly attacks.
  4. d) Terrorism is characterized by high standards of intelligence before carrying out any attack.
  5. e) Terrorist acts share a fairly high degree of sophistication for the terrorist to blend with their victims.

Part 11

Question 1

For the purpose of completion of this assignment, I selected terrorism and organized crime to complete this part.

The main characteristics of terrorism to be used are:

  1. a) Terrorism activities require personal bravery to carry out all the tasks assigned to them. A terrorist must consider the possibility of death, lifelong injury, imprisonment and at worst cases torture if they happen to be captured. Thus, any individual ready to sacrifice their lives and they have for the course have to show high levels of bravery depending on the position they hold in a terrorist organization.
  2. b) All terrorists should not exhibit any human emotions of pity and remorse to be in a position to carry out these deadly attacks. Considering that terrorism does not consider who their victims are, they should reduce if not eliminate human emotions considering that some of their victims may be innocent men, women, and children. A successful and effective terrorist must create and develop a killer instinct to enable him or her kill individual in cold blood(Raine, 2013).

Organized crime

  1. a) Involves high levels of planning – organized crimes are only successful if it is well organized and planned. As a result, any member of the organization must show high levels of organization and intelligence to understand and internalize any plans made by the organization. The leader of any group should have planning skills and knowledge to create and develop achievable plans.
  2. b) There is a high division of labor in the criminal group – any individual belonging to a certain criminal organization must display high levels of knowledge and skills in a particular area of expertise. Due to the complexity of their activities, these organizations usually go for experts in various fields for efficiency and effectiveness of their business. Labor is usually divided by knowledge and expertise.

Question 2

Cognitive and emotional functions help an individual; to create and develop mechanisms and techniques of acquiring knowledge.  Cognitive functions widely revolve around reasoning, memory, attention and language that lead to the attainment of information, knowledge, and skills of performing particular tasks. Psychologists have identified operant and condition as the two widely used methods to develop criminal behavior. In operant condition, individuals can associate their activities with their consequences and thus, if a wrong method used to access information or knowledge is not punished, then an individual may develop criminal behavior (Clinard, 2014). The operant conditioning is appropriate for terrorism activities where members of a terror group have no alternative but obey what is required of them, or they suffer severe consequences. On the other hand, classical conditioning comprises of a learning process that occurs when two stimuli are paired together. In the case of the organized crime, classical conditioning can excel considering that personal gain and satisfaction can be used as the external stimuli to he3lp an individual develop criminal instincts. Besides, observation can also be used to learn all the processes that are associated with a particular crime as well as the techniques and methods used to gather information and execution of the plan.

Question 3

Considering that terrorism is usually carried out by individuals rather than a group, personality tests can be conducted to provide more information about terrorists. Personality tests are meant to reveal aspects of an individual’s character or psychological makeup. Thus, conducting a personality test on a single psychologist can provide information on how terrorist thinks and how they plan to carry out their plans which can be of great assist to investigators.

On the other hand, often, organized crime is carried out by a group of people with similar characters, behaviors, desires as well as ambitions. As a result, conducting a behavioral assessment on a single member of a crime group can provide more insight and information about that particular criminal group (Short, 2008). This assessment reveals the purpose o a certain behavior in the group making it easy to predict their next move and course of action.

Question 4

  1. The level of knowledge and skills of terrorists – terrorists carries out one of the complex crimes in the globe as it involves extensive research and intelligence about their targets. As a result, terrorists may take years to study their target to get accurate information to guarantee a successful attack. Thus, there is the need to know their intelligence level before settling for a counterattack action.
  2. Protective measures – criminal organizations are one of the secretive organizations in the universe, and this makes it hard to gather any information regarding various crime organizations. As a result, it is important to understand protective measures of any organization to understand offenders of that particular group.

Part 111

Question 1

There is a slight difference between the ethical standards of an investigator and those of a psychologist. A professional investigator must ensure their actions are legal as well as justifying their actions regarding necessity and costs. On the other hand, a psychologist is required to uphold competence and integrity in his interview (Chiesa, 2008). Any psychologists should identify and uphold the boundaries of their work as well as ensuring that their activities are fair and honest.

Question 2

Psychological profiling is a technique that helps criminal investigators to develop profiles of murders, sex offenders and other violent criminals who have not been arrested by law enforcers. For any investigator to obtain and provide relevant and necessary information about a criminal he or she needs to:

  1. Observe body language cues – body cues carry more weight than the language and the voice used by individuals and thus there is the need for the investigator to be keen on the cues used by a suspect.
  2. Paying attention to appearances – the first impression is always necessary and important and thus, the investigator should be keen on the appearance of the suspect as their appearance gives more information about them.

Question 3

As an investigator, there is the need to be sure about the client and the purpose of a certain case and a particular client. The investigator should not jeopardize any party in an investigation be it the victim, the suspect or a witness. Thus, it is the duty of the investigator to observe privacy of all parties involved (Clinard, 2014). On the other hand, a psychologist should respect other people’s right as well as show concern for their welfare. Confidentiality is important in any psychological work as well as the mental and physical well-being of a client.


Bartol, A. M. (2014). Criminal behavior: A psychological approach. Boston:: Pearson, c2014.                 xxiii, 644 pages: illustrations; 24 cm.

Chiesa, R. D. (2008). Profiling hackers: the science of criminal profiling as applied to the world              of hacking (Vol. 49). CRC Press.

Clinard, M. R. (2014). criminal behavior systems: A typology. . Routledge.

Kocsis, R. N. (2007). Criminal profiling: International theory, research, and practice. Springer               Science & Business Media.

Meyer, C. B. (2008). Criminal Profiling as Expert Evidence? In Criminal Profiling ,                                 (pp. 207-247). Humana Press.

Raine, A. (2013). The psychopathology of crime: Criminal behavior as a clinical disorder.                       Elsevier.

Short, M. B. (2008). A statistical model of criminal behavior. . Mathematical Models and                         Methods in Applied Sciences, 18(supp01), , 1249-1267.

Turvey, B. E. (2011). Criminal profiling: An introduction to behavioral evidence analysis. .                     Academic press.

Learning Activity 2—Analysis of a Profiling Case

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