Criminal Behavior, Theories of

When crime is truly the product of rational choice, the offender commits the act for reasons of personal gain or gratification. His or her behavior is under his or her complete control. How and to what degree, however, might other factors intrude on and compromise his or her ability to exercise free will? The response to this question has come in the form of innumerable theories, each purporting to explain criminal behavior in terms of specific factors. Broadly speaking, these theories involve three categories of factors: psychological, biological, and social. In fact, human behavior is the product of complex interactions among many factors. Rather than providing a summary of myriad theories, this entry focuses on the main factors involved in the expression and suppression of ...

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