The Psychology of Criminal Conduct  book cover
6th Edition

The Psychology of Criminal Conduct

ISBN 9781138935778
Published October 27, 2016 by Routledge
470 Pages 26 Color Illustrations

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Book Description

The Psychology of Criminal Conduct, Sixth Edition, provides a psychological and evidence-informed perspective of criminal behavior that sets it apart from many criminological and mental health explanations of criminal behavior. Drawing upon the General Personality and Cognitive Social Learning theory, James Bonta and Donald Andrews provide an overview of the theoretical context and major knowledge base of the psychology of criminal conduct, discuss the eight major risk/need factors of criminal conduct, examine the prediction and classification of criminal behavior along with prevention and rehabilitation, and summarize the major issues in understanding criminal conduct. This book also offers the Risk/Need/Responsivity (RNR) model of offender assessment and treatment that has guided developments in the subject throughout the world.

In this edition, the first since Andrews' death, Bonta carefully maintains the book's original contributions while presenting these core concepts succinctly, clearly, and elegantly. Appropriate for advanced undergraduates and graduate students as well as for scholars, researchers, and practitioners, The Psychology of Criminal Conduct, Sixth Edition, further extends and refines the authors' body of work.

Table of Contents

Preface to the Sixth Edition

Part 1: The Theoretical Context and Knowledge Base
to the Psychology of Criminal Conduct

Chapter 1

An Overview of the Psychology of Criminal Conduct

Definition of the Psychology of Criminal Conduct

Values at the Base of PCC

Objectives of PCC

Definitions of Criminal Behavior

Variation in Criminal Conduct

A Look Ahead

Worth Remembering

Chapter 2

The Empirical Basis to the Psychology of Criminal Conduct

The Research Designs

1. The Correlates of Crime and the Cross-Sectional Research Designs

2. Predictor Variables and the Longitudinal Design

3. Dynamic Predictors and the Multiwave Longitudinal Design

4. Causal Variables and the Randomized Experimental Design

Some Commonly Used Statistics

1. Statistical Significance: p < .05 and Confidence Intervals

2. Statistical Measures of the Magnitude of Covariation


Moderator Variables

A Comment on Aggregated Crime Rates

Worth Remembering

Recommended Readings

Chapter 3

From Criminology Theories to a Psychological Perspective of Criminal Conduct x

Criminological Theories

Strain Theory

Subcultural Perspectives

Labeling and Marxist/Conflict Theories

Control Theories

Differential Association Theory

Summary of Criminological Theories

A General Personality and Cognitive Social Learning Theory of Criminal Conduct

The Learning of Criminal Behavior

A Glimpse at the Evidence Supporting GPCSL and the Central Eight


Worth Remembering

Part 2: The Major Risk/Need Factors of Criminal Conduct

Chapter 4

The Biological Basis of Criminal Behavior

Heredity and Crime

The Search for a Crime Gene

Intergenerational Crime

What Twin and Adoption Studies Tell Us about Nature and Nurture

Twin Studies

Adoption Studies

The Nature-Nurture Interaction

Neurophysiological Factors and Crime

The Difficult, Impulsive, Sensation-Seeking Temperament

Crime: A Failure or Success of Evolution?

A Failure in Evolution: The Caveman Awakened

Criminal Behavior as an Evolutionary Adaptation

Three Closing Comments

Worth Remembering

Recommended Readings

Chapter 5

Antisocial Personality Pattern

Psychology’s View of Personality

The Super Trait Perspectives of Personality

Is Personality Just a Matter of Traits?

Criminology’s View of Personality

Then . . .

And Now . . .

Antisocial Personality as Pathology

Psychiatry and Antisocial Personality Disorder


The Assessment of Psychopathy: Hare’s Psychopathy Checklist

Are There Noncriminal Psychopaths?

The Etiology of Psychopathy

The Treatment of Psychopaths

Can Children Be Psychopaths?

A General Personality and Cognitive Social Learning Perspective: APP

Poor Self-Control: A Facet of Antisocial Personality

Antisocial Personality Pattern: Risk and Treatment

Worth Remembering

Recommended Readings

Chapter 6

The Role of Procriminal Associates and Attitudes
in Criminal Conduct

When Parents Lose Control: The Path to Procriminal Associates

Psychological Perspectives on Delinquent Associates

Delinquent Associates: Training in Criminal Behavior


Cognitions Supportive of Crime: Procriminal Attitudes

Development of Procriminal Attitudes

The Attitude-Behavior Link

Classifying Procriminal Attitudes

Assessment of Procriminal Attitudes

Targeting Procriminal Attitudes in Treatment

Worth Remembering

Recommended Readings

Chapter 7

The Person in Social Context: Family, Marital, School, Work,
Leisure/Recreation, and Neighborhood

Family of Origin

Learning to Care: The Parent-Child Relationship and the Development
of Social Bonds

Parenting Practices and Delinquency

Family Interventions and the Reduction of Delinquent Behavior

Primary Prevention

Secondary Prevention Family Programs


Marital Attachments






Worth Remembering

Recommended Readings

Chapter 8

Substance Abuse

Alcohol Abuse

Definition and Prevalence

Alcohol Abuse and Crime

Treating Alcohol Abuse

Drug Abuse


Treating Drug Abuse

Relapse Prevention


Dealing with Resistance to Treatment

Motivational Interviewing

Mandated Treatment and Drug Courts

A Final Comment on Substance Abuse

Worth Remembering

Recommended Readings

Part 3: Applications

Chapter 9

The Risk-Need-Responsivity Model of Offender Assessment and Treatment

The Overarching Principles

The Core RNR Principles and Key Clinical Issues

Organizational Principles


Chapter 10

Prediction of Criminal Behavior and Classification of Offenders

Assessing Predictive Accuracy

PCC and Prediction

Offender Assessment and the Principles of Risk, Need, and Responsivity

Risk Principle: Match the Level of Service to the Level of Risk

Need Principle: Target criminogenic needs

Responsivity Principle: Use cognitive-behavioral interventions with attention to personal learning styles

Approaches to the Assessment and Prediction of Criminal Behavior

First-Generation Risk Assessment: Professional Judgment

Second-Generation Risk Assessment: Actuarial, Static Risk Scales

Third-Generation Assessment: Risk/Need Scales

The Level of Service Inventory-Revised

Criminogenic Needs and the Dynamic Validity of the LSI-R

Summary of the LSI-R

Fourth-Generation Risk Assessment: The Integration of Case Management
with Risk/Need Assessment

The General Applicability of Theory-Based Offender Assessment

LS Risk Assessment Across Different Populations





LS Risk and Violence Outcomes

Obstacles to Using Empirically Based Risk Assessment for Offender Rehabilitation

The Future of Offender Assessment

Worth Remembering

Recommended Readings

Chapter 11

Offender Rehabilitation

The How and Why of "Nothing Works"

The Birth of "What Works"

Further results from the Expanded Meta-Analysis

Independent Meta-Analytic Summaries of the Effects of RNR Programming

GPCSL and Intervention

Worth Remembering

Recommended Readings

Chapter 12

Creating and Maintaining RNR Adherence: A Real World Challenge

Fidelity in Offender Risk/Need Assessment

Enhancing the Integrity of Correctional Treatment

Some Major Barriers to RNR Adherence

Assessment of Programs and Agencies

The Components of Effective Correctional Supervision and Treatment

The Dimensions of Effective Correctional Counseling: 1. Relationship

The Dimensions of Effective Correctional Counseling: 2. Structuring

a) The Effective Model

b) Effective Reinforcement

c) Effective Disapproval

d) Cognitive Restructuring x

Training Correctional Staff to Apply the RNR Model

Strategic Training Initiative in Community Supervision (STICS)

Training Issues

The Evaluation of STICS


Staff Training Aimed at Reducing Re-arrest (STARR)

Effective Practices in Community Supervision (EPICS)


Cost-Benefit Evaluations of Offender Treatment

Worth Remembering

Recommended Readings

Chapter 13

The Failed Experiment: Getting Tough on Crime

Criminal Justice Sanctions and Just Deserts

The Effects of Imprisonment on Crime and the Community

1. Incapacitation Effect: Taking the Bad Off the Streets

2. Restoring Faith in the Criminal Justice System

3. Deterrence

Evaluations of Intermediate Sanctions

The Unfulfilled Promise of Fairness


The Psychology of Punishment

Why Doesn’t Punishment Work?

Conditions for Effective Punishment

The Side Effects of Punishment

Summary on Punishment

An Alternative to Retribution: Restorative Justice

Worth Remembering

Recommended Readings

Chapter 14

Criminal Subtypes: Intimate Partner Violence, the Mentally Disordered and Sex Offenders

Intimate Partner Violence

Men Who Batter: How Different are They from Regular Criminals?

Risk Factors from Surveys

Risk Factors from the Study of Conflictual Relationships

Actuarial Risk Scales for Intimate Partner Abuse

Treatment of Male Batterers

The Mentally Disordered Offender (MDO)

Estimating the Prevalence of Mental Disorders

Dangerousness and the Psychiatric Patient

Threat/Control-Override Symptomatology

Dangerous and the MDO

Risk Factors for MDOs

Treatment of the MDO

The Sex Offender

How Unique are Sex Offenders?

Risk Factors for Sexual Offending 

The Treatment of Sex Offenders

A Few Closing Comments

Worth Remembering

Recommended Readings

Part 4: Summary and Conclusions

Chapter 15

A General Personality and Cognitive Social Learning Perspective
of Criminal Conduct: Summary and Conclusions

A. Empirical Understanding

Incidence and Prevalence of Criminal Activity

The Correlates of Criminal Activity

The Central Eight

Wide Applicability

The Ability to Influence Crime

B. A Theoretical Understanding and Challenges to GPCSL


Good Lives Model (GLM)

C. An Understanding of Practical Value

Prediction Instruments

Effective Prevention and Treatment

Specific Responsivity

The Impact of a Psychology of Criminal Conduct

Conclusion and Final Comments


Index to Selected Acronyms

Subject Index

Name Index

View More



James Bonta served as Director of Corrections Research at Public Safety Canada from 1990 until 2015. He received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Ottawa in 1979. Bonta was a psychologist, and later Chief Psychologist, at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre, a maximum-security remand facility for adults and young offenders. Throughout his career, Bonta has held various academic appointments and professional posts and was a member of the Editorial Advisory Boards for the Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice and Behavior. He is a Fellow of the Canadian Psychological Association, a recipient of the Association’s Criminal Justice Section’s Career Contribution Award for 2009, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, 2012, the Maud Booth Correctional Services Award, 2015, and the 2015 Community Corrections Award from the International Corrections and Prisons Association.

The late D.A. Andrews was a noted criminologist affiliated with Carleton University throughout his academic career. His work on the psychology of criminal conduct produced what became known as the "theory of correctional intervention," which set the standard for successful intervention practices throughout the field of corrections worldwide. He was a founding member of Carleton’s Criminology and Criminal Justice Program and a Fellow of the Canadian Psychological Association. He received numerous awards for his work in the criminal justice field, including those from the American Probation and Parole Association, Correctional Service Canada, the International Community Corrections Association, and the American Society of Criminology. After his retirement, he remained active in the criminal justice field as a Professor Emeritus and Distinguished Research Professor.


The 6th edition is the most concise and well written edition of The Psychology of Criminal Conduct to date. The tone of the book—its enthusiasm and balance in the way issues are presented—is welcome. Besides the topics contained in past editions, the authors’ discussion of research issues, social contexts, biology, punishment, and prediction and treatment integrity are excellent contributions to this important text.

Paul E. Gendreau, Professor Emeritus, the University of New Brunswick, Canada

No other single book has so transformed the field of correctional intervention. For more than 20 years this volume has been essential reading for everyone: from students of criminal psychology to correctional professionals, including prison officers, probation officers, case managers, and experienced psychologists.

--Devon Polaschek, PhD DipClinPsyc, Professor, Criminal Psychology, School of Psychology, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

Now in its Sixth Edition, The Psychology of Criminal Conduct is the most important book ever written in criminology. A scientific tour de force, it outlines the evidence-based RNR paradigm for understanding why people break the law and how to affect their rehabilitation. This paradigm has been used across and beyond North America to save countless offenders from a life in crime and thus countless citizens from victimization. To be literate in criminology and in correctional treatment, all scholars, students, and practitioners should read this book—and then, as I do, keep it close by and consult it often.

Francis T. Cullen, Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus, University of Cincinnati, College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services, USA

It is a real pleasure to welcome a new and fully updated edition of the leading textbook on psychologically informed approaches to understanding and reducing criminal behaviour. For over twenty years its successive editions have explained the theory and evidence behind the Risk-Need-Responsivity model of offender rehabilitation, which has influenced policy and practice in many countries throughout the world and continues to be the most productive source of evidence-based methods. Its influence and importance can hardly be overstated. This latest edition will be an invaluable resource not only for students of criminology and criminal justice but also for practitioners in probation and prisons, and for the managers and leaders of correctional services who have a responsibility, both to the general public and to offenders themselves, to promote and use the most effective practices. Perhaps even some politicians might take a look at this book – they would certainly benefit.

Peter Raynor, Research Professor in Criminology and Criminal Justice, Swansea University, Wales, UK

This book should be essential reading for criminologists and psychologists and anyone who is interested in the assessment, prevention, and treatment of offending. Its reviews of key biological, family, school, neighborhood, and other predictors of crime, and the practical application of this knowledge in the Risk-Need-Responsivity model of effective correctional treatment, are very well-researched, extremely informative, and highly readable.

– David P. Farrington, Emeritus Professor of Psychological Criminology, Cambridge University, UK

When I read the first edition of The Psychology of Criminal Conduct in 1994 I thought it was the best book on its topic. The book provides a comprehensive, interdisciplinary overview on up-to-date research and theory on the origins, prediction, prevention and treatment of offending behavior. The book shows how to explain, predict and treat sexual, violent, acquisitive and other offending and puts the findings in a convincing theoretical and practice-oriented framework. It is essential reading not only for students in the fields of criminology, psychology and law, forensic psychology and psychiatry, sociology, social work and other crime-related disciplines, but also for researchers, practitioners and policy makers in these areas.

–Friedrich Lösel, Professor and director emeritus of the Institute of Criminology, Cambridge University (UK) and Institute of Psychology, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany

Words like ‘classic’ and ‘seminal’ are all too frequently used to describe scholarly work. The fact is that The Psychology of Criminal Conduct by Bonta and Andrews is a seminal work that has become a classic since it was first published 22 years ago. The sixth edition continues the tradition by including an abundance of up-to-date research studies that address current issues. Bonta has not rested on his laurels but has produced a current work that will continue to set the standard in the field of forensic and correctional psychology.

–James R. P. Ogloff, Director, Centre for Forensic Behavioural Science, Swinburne University and Forensicare, Melbourne, Australia