6th Edition

The Psychology of Criminal Conduct

By James Bonta, D. A. Andrews Copyright 2017
    470 Pages 26 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    470 Pages 26 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    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.

    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


    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