Crime And Psychology


“Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. It includes the study of conscious and unconscious phenomena, as well as feelings and thoughts”.

Psychology of a person tells a lot about them, it is just like a manual to the human behavior. The human demeanor is a complex system to understand yet psychology aims to understand it well and near to accuracy. It not only runs on scientific theories but these theories are well tried and tested. The science of psychology highly believes in action, observations and results procedure.


A crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state or other authority. Something is a crime if declared as such by the relevant and applicable law. One proposed definition is that a crime or offence (or criminal offence) is an act harmful not only to some individual but also to a community, society, or the state (a public wrong). Such acts are forbidden and punishable by law.

In simpler words, Crime is the act committed by a person that is legally, ethically and socially wrong. It not just harms or hurts the victim physically but also leaves an impact on his/her life forever. Even though it is committed to an individual or a group of individuals yet it effects the whole society and is a threat to the whole society. 


“Psychology is the scientific study of human behavior and mind” and it helps us to determine various attributes of a person varying from his attitude, mindset, habits to his mental reach. Not just that another part of psychology known as forensic psychology, legal psychology and criminal psychology is used by legal institutions and bodies to determine the crime and decode the actual situations, it also helps the police to reach the accused in many cases by establishing the relationship between the crime, crime scene as well as the modus operandi of the accused in committing the crime.


The word ‘forensic’ originates from the Latin word ‘forensis,’ which means “the forum,” or the court system of Ancient Rome. Forensic psychology is that branch of psychology which is the amalgamation of psychology and the law. It considers the use of psychological knowledge to the law and justice system as it is considered significant in the legal system. Forensic psychology has been a major source of deriving evidences from the crime scene, victim’s body as well as any tool used in crime. Forensic Psychology supports the case not only with evidences but some much required testimonies.


“Legal Psychology is a modern term that refers to the study and use of psychology as it applies to the legal system and people who come into contact with the legal system.”

Individuals who practice in the sphere of legal psychology zone by acknowledging, assessing and examining accused, assessing jury opponents, inspecting crimes and crime scenes, forensic inspections and other situations related to law. Legal psychology is applied to modify this sphere of theoretic clinical psychology to applied psychology.


“A criminal psychologist studies the behaviors and thoughts of criminals.”

A criminal psychologist investigates the mindset of the criminals and establishes an outline to structure or understand them. They assess personal criminal demeanor and detect if there is any persisting mental health circumstances. They often enter the court of justice and give their professional testimony. Their various duties involve counseling the criminals or examining their chances of committing offence again. Studying a criminal’s mindset is not only important during the trial but also post trial. Sometimes, if observed carefully this can also help in prevention of crimes.


In civil and criminal cases, forensic psychologists may assess a person’s intellect to establish examination such as ability to face trial, correlation of a mental ailment to any mishap or felony, and possibility for subsequent frightening behavior. Psychologists play a major role in assessing the cases as the mental condition of a person is in relation to the mens rea and actus rea, which are main ingredients of any crime.

Criminal psychology is a very essential part of the legal system, it not just helps to assess the accused’s mental state but also help in catching the accused and determining the relation of crime, crime scene, victim and the accused. Studying one’s behavior to determine his/her course of action is a very essential part of the psychology in the legal system.


The major difficulty that arises in application of psychology in law is that psychology though being practical but runs on theories that are of scientific nature and the facts are driven out from time to time, psychology relies more upon experimentation, observations and results, which is altogether a long process to go through, to achieve the goal.

Even though, law aims at achieving the same goal, still it demands a faster course of action as well as it is completely based on the statutes, precedents, rulings, the action of crime etc., which is not very scientifically based and flexible in nature.


Though psychology has been really helpful yet there is a gap between law and psychology that can never be filled. Law and legal system requires complete proximity of the results whereas psychology does not guarantee that. Sometimes, psychology cannot be just factually based but can also be based upon the beliefs which cannot be applied in the legal system as it does not ensure accuracy.


Psychology has been the strength to the legal system for a very long time. It aims to develop this system with time and use of its study of conscience and demeanor to grow even better. Not only it plays a major role the current actions of the case but also help in post actions of the cases by dealing with criminals and helping them to cope up with psychological issues to decrease the crime rate for the future.


Aakriti Saini

Chandigarh University

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