The Psychology of Criminal Conduct

Paula Smith

in The Oxford Handbook of Criminological Theory

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199747238
Published online December 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

The Psychology of Criminal Conduct

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  • Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Theories of Crime



A paradigm is a term that refers to an all-encompassing way of doing science within a set of agreed-upon theoretical ideas. It was Thomas Kuhn in 1962 who first proposed that science is based on a paradigm. In criminology and other social sciences, the original idea of paradigm has been drastically altered and is now viewed as a mere synonym for a theory, perspective, or approach. This article revisits Kuhn's (1962) original meaning of the concept of paradigm in order to describe how the psychology of criminal conduct (PCC) provides the field of corrections with a treatment paradigm. After outlining the theories involved in PCC, the article looks at some macro-level psychological and criminological theories and shows how they paved the way for the development of a micro-level theory of effective correctional rehabilitation, also known as the “principles of effective correctional intervention.” It also provides a brief history of the rehabilitative ideal in corrections in order to identify the social and political factors that influenced the development of PCC.

Keywords: psychology of criminal conduct; Thomas Kuhn; paradigm; criminology; corrections; correctional rehabilitation; treatment; correctional intervention

Article.  9311 words. 

Subjects: Criminology and Criminal Justice ; Theories of Crime

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