The Psychology of Criminal Behaviour: What Drives Someone to Commit a Crime?

Psychology of Criminal Behaviour
Criminal Matters » The Psychology of Criminal Behaviour: What Drives Someone to Commit a Crime?

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The field of criminal psychology in India can roughly be traced back to 1916 when Calcutta University introduced its Department of Experimental Psychology. The psychology of criminal behaviour is quite intricate, like the human mind itself, and thus presents a lot of overlapping and conflicting theories.

You might have wondered, “What causes criminal behaviour psychology?” There are a lot of theories about that, which can be classified into 3 main categories. Read on to find out about the various psychological, biological, and sociological factors that often underly criminal behaviour.

Biological Factors

Nowadays, people involved in the study of crime and criminal behaviour often agree that several biological factors can play a role in the manifestation of criminal tendencies in individuals. These biological factors are usually related to either the various parts of the brain or various secretions that are controlled by the brain.

  • Prefrontal Cortex: The prefrontal cortex is the part at the front of the human brain that is mainly responsible for self-control. Individuals who engage in criminal activities are often found to have underdeveloped or damaged prefrontal cortexes. This part doesn’t develop to its full extent till the mid-20s in most people, which might explain why teenagers exhibit poor self-control. 


  • Amygdala: Similarly, a study showed that 26-year-old men with smaller amygdalas were more likely to be 3 times more aggressive and violent than men with more normal-sized amygdalas three years later. That is because this part of the brain is linked to fear, aggression, and social interaction.


  • Anterior Cingulate Cortex: The Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC) is heavily involved in behaviour regulation and a study by the APA found that inmates with lower ACC activity were twice as likely to return to prison after 4 years.


  • Unnatural levels of hormones like testosterone and neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin also affect criminal tendencies to some degree.

Also Read: How Effective Are India’s Criminal Laws?

Sociological Theories

There are many sociological theories that postulate that social and environmental factors may influence a person to commit a crime. One such theory, for example, tries to explain that criminal behaviour is motivated by neighbourhood dynamics. That means that individuals that grew up in poor neighborhoods without access to proper housing, or health facilities, and at a socioeconomic disadvantage are more likely to commit crimes.

Most sociological theories about the psychology of criminal behaviour do seem to suggest that individuals who had to fend for themselves from an early age and grew up feeling unfairly disadvantaged compared to their peers are more likely to engage in criminal activities. The Strain Theory also outlines the role of peer pressure and cultural goals in this regard.

Psychological Theories

Most psychological theories that try to explain criminal behaviour stress the importance of childhood in the development of an individual. Traumatic experiences in childhood can lead to criminal tendencies in individuals, they say. Let us now take a look at the three major psychological theories that try to explain criminality.

Psychodynamic Theory

The psychodynamic theory was put forward by none other than Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), often referred to as the father of psychology. This theory is based on the three parts that make up the human personality – id, ego, and superego. The id is responsible for fulfilling the basic needs of survival like food, sex, sleep, and functions on an unconscious level. It is guided by the pleasure principle, seeking instant gratification. The ego, on the other hand, is present on the subconscious level and operates on the reality principle.

Finally, we come to the superego, which operates on the morality principle and drives moral decisions. When it comes to crime and criminal psychology, the psychodynamic theory suggests that those who commit crimes do so out of a failure of the ego and superego to control the id.

Behavioral Theory

Behavioral theory maintains that human behaviour is learned and not inherent. In some ways, it reflects many sociological theories about crime, in that it suggests that children learn violence by observation. According to Albert Bandura, the most prominent social theorist in the world, violence and aggression are modelled in children through three primary sources:

  • Family interactions
  • Environmental experiences
  • Mass media

Cognitive Theory

The cognitive theory tries to explain how people’s perception of the world around them governs their thoughts, actions, and behaviours. In the context of criminal behaviour, Lawrence Kohlberg has suggested that most criminals are trapped in the pre-conventional level of moral development, which is the lowest of the three levels of moral development, and is found in children.

Role of Criminal Psychology in Law

Police and other law enforcement agencies often employ a method known as criminal profiling that helps them fit the crime scene to the criminal. This involves using the services of a criminal psychologist to identify five behavioural characteristics that help in identifying the perpetrator of a crime among a pool of suspects.

In India, criminal profiling oftentimes takes on the colour of our pre-independence social injustices, however. While it is sad to hear, people from lower castes, with lower economic backing, are often unable to defend themselves when they are wrongly accused of crimes they didn’t commit. This kind of casteist social bias can be very common yet unknown to the regular people, like the case with the Denotified tribes in our country.

Psychology and criminal justice system are also interrelated in most countries. In India, this can be observed in how there are different degrees of rehabilitation systems, milder detention for juveniles, and prison for adults.

Also Read: What Victims’ Rights Are In The Criminal Justice System?


Criminal behaviour and what motivates it in individuals is a fascinating subject that can only be explained to a certain degree by psychology. Even then, psychology is not an exact science and thus there exist many parallel theories that try to explain the psychology of criminal behaviour. While this blog might have been a great insight into what might make a criminal different from a person beside them, we at Lex Solutions would advise you to take the services of a criminal lawyer when it comes to criminal cases.


  • What is criminal psychology example?

Some facts about criminal psychology examples include:

  • It is a subfield of criminology and applied psychology
  • The practice of criminal profiling is now termed by the FBI as criminal investigative analysis.


  • Which laws deal with criminal cases in India?

The laws that deal with criminal cases in India are the Indian Penal Code, 1860(IPC), and the Criminal Procedure Code, 1974 (CrPC).

  • How does psychology contribute to the criminal justice system?

The criminal justice system in India is very dependent on criminal psychology in India. It is necessary for proving this like unsound of mind for the perpetrators of crimes, or have separate punishment and holding facilities for adults and juveniles.

  • Are criminals intelligent?

Yes. While most people assume that criminals have low intelligence and hence commit crimes, recent studies and serial killers suggest that intelligence plays no part in the tendency of people to commit crimes. Indeed, the biggest criminals who are never caught are usually psychopaths or sociopaths with high IQ levels.

  • What are the 7 types of crimes?

The seven different categories that crimes are categorised into in the IPC include:

  • Offences against the human body
  • Offences against property
  • Offences relating to public tranquillity
  • Offences relating to documents
  • Offences against women and children
  • Offences against state and terrorism
  • Offences relating to elections

According to estimates, 65% of people living in urban areas around the world are tenants. This is also true in India due to the sky-high prices of real estate in the major cities and the large population of migrant workers who live there. Nevertheless, living as a renter can be a peaceful arrangement, but occasionally there are situations where one can run into rental problems and other connected issues, such as receiving an unauthorized eviction notice or the erratic behaviour of the landlord.

Are you, however, a renter who is experiencing such problems or simply curious about what to do if you ever find yourself in a similar situation? In that case, allow us to help you through this blog, which will briefly discuss about the several protections against landowner harassment.

What does illegal eviction of tenants mean?

An illegal eviction, also known as an unlawful termination of tenancy, typically happens when a landowner forbids a tenant from entering a rental property or removes the tenant’s belongings from the property through the use of force, intimidation, or other methods (such as cutting off utilities or changing the locks). However, if the landowners evict you without taking the proper legal action, they are breaking the law.

How Do You Respond When Your Landlord Forcibly Evicts You?

Almost every state has rental control legislation pertaining to tenant protection, and each state has established specific circumstances for which the landlord may lawfully evict the renter. Additionally, a tenant has a legal right under the law to appear in court and defend himself against unlawful eviction, and some of those accessible remedies for tenants are discussed below:

Grounds for eviction

Non-payment of rent, breach of the lease, property damage, and illegal activity are the most typical grounds for evicting a renter. The tenant must therefore review the provisions of the State Rent Control Act to ascertain the grounds for eviction specified in the Act. In addition, if the tenant is being evicted for any reason other than those specified in the Act—which is considered wrongful eviction—they must seek the help of an eviction lawyer and the enforcement agencies to halt this.

Suit for injunction

A renter might be unable to leave a property when asked to do so for a number of reasons, such as having a medical emergency or having his elderly parents live with him. When this happens, the tenant has the option to file a case in the appropriate court to obtain an injunction that will prevent them from being evicted for any other grounds (other than those listed in the State’s Rent Act). Along with the assistance of housing rental lawyers, the renter should take this action, if they are violently evicted without providing them with adequate notice.

Rent Controller

In the event that the tenant receives a notice of eviction on pretences, they should go see the rent controller of the relevant jurisdiction and explain why they believe the notice of eviction is invalid. Additionally, following the tenant eviction laws, the court will summon the tenant, who will then be forced to submit his or her case and the arguments supporting the necessary evidence.

Notice of rent payment

If the landowner claims that he has not received the required rent and lists this as the reason for serving the notice of eviction, the tenant may legitimately ask him or her to send the information to his bank account so that he can conduct the transaction and deposit the outstanding rent. Moreover, after agreeing to it, the landowner must give the tenant the information within 10 days of the date they received the notice.

Also Read: Lex Solutions – Your One-Stop Destination For All Things Legal

Steps that you must follow to legally evict a tenant in India

Because eviction laws differ from state to state, the following are typical recommendations for evicting a renter. Nevertheless, you can contact the tenants lawyer of Lex Solutions if you need any assistance.

Serve the Tenant With a Termination Notice

The tenancy must be terminated before a landlord can evict a tenant for cause, and the landowner shall provide the tenant with the required notice before taking legal action to do so. Three different kinds of termination notices are generally available:

  • Pay Rent or Quit: The tenant is required to pay the rent within a predetermined period (often three to five days) or leave the rented property.
  • Cure or Quit: A breach of the rental agreement or lease must be remedied by the tenant within a set amount of time.
  • Unconditional Quit: Without a chance to correct the offense or pay the rent, the tenant must leave the property.

But to evict a tenant without good reason, the landlord must give the renter a 30- or 60-day notice to leave the premises.

File an Eviction Lawsuit

If the renter does not correct the issue or quit the property within the allotted time, the landowner must initiate an unlawful detainer case in small claims court. Following this, landlords have the right to evict tenants by serving a legal notice to tenants to vacate their premises.

Wait for the Tenant’s Answer

Within the time frame given on the summons, the tenant may “answer” the complaint. The renter may, however, use the response to refute the charges or present a defence. And, for instance, a tenant might claim that the eviction was carried out in retaliation or that the unpaid rent was used to pay for repairs the landlord refused to undertake.

Receive a Judgment for Possession

A default judgment is granted to the landowner if the tenant ignores the eviction notice India. Moreover, the landowner is entitled to take ownership of the property if the renter replies with an answer but the court rules in his or her favor.

Remove the Tenant

Despite having the right to reclaim the property, the landlord is unable to evict a renter without the help of a law enforcement official. Nevertheless, the tenant will be informed of the legal eviction and the number of days they have to leave once such an official receives the judgment and the cost. Moreover, the law enforcement authority may physically evict the tenant if they don’t leave the property in the allotted period.

Also Read: Introduction To The Indian Judicial System And Court Hierarchy

Summing Up

Now that you are aware of the characteristics of evictions and how to deal with them in a nation like India, you must use them as needed. Additionally, as a landowner, you must evict a problematic renter per the law. And, to ensure that you are acting legally, consult a local landlord-tenant law attorney in your area. For such assistance, a legal firm in Chandigarh, lexsolution can offer you a one-stop solution.


  • Can a tenant seek an injunction against the landlord?

According to the state rental rules present in India, a tenant does not have the right to issue an injunction against the landlord. Moreover, injunction procedures are always discretionary, and a court of law cannot grant a perpetual injunction in favour of the plaintiff against the right owner if the plaintiff is only a trespasser.

  • Can police evict a tenant in India?

Even if the renters behave disrespectfully, the police cannot assist in reclaiming the property. However, the only court with the authority to order the eviction of a tenant is the court of the rent controller under whose jurisdiction the property is located. 

  • When a tenant can get the benefit of protection against eviction?

If the tenant can show that the landlord gave his written approval to the subtenant, he is entitled to protection from eviction. Additionally, it disallows any other consent, including implied or oral permission.