Psychological Criminology

An Integrative Approach

By Richard Wortley

© 2011 – Willan

276 pages | 18 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9781843928058
pub: 2011-04-13
US Dollars$59.95
Hardback: 9781843928065
pub: 2011-04-13
US Dollars$135.00

e–Inspection Copy

About the Book

Psychological Criminology addresses the question: what is it about individuals and their experiences that cause them to commit crime and/or to become criminal?

This book provides a comprehensive coverage of psychological theories of crime and criminality, exploring theories focusing on factors present at birth (human nature, heredity); theories that focus on factors that influence the offender over the lifespan (learning, development); and theories focusing on factors present at the crime scene. It emphasizes the connections among the different approaches, and demonstrates how, taken together rather than as rival explanations, they provide a more complete picture of crime and criminality than each provides individually.

Theories are arranged throughout the book in a temporal sequence, from distal to proximal causes of crime. The analysis spans 100,000 years, from the evolutionary roots of criminal behaviour in the ancestral environments of early humans on the African savana, to the decision to engage in a specific criminal act.

Key features of the book include:

  • a focus on theory – ‘explaining’ crime and criminality,
  • an integrative approach,
  • accessible to readers who do not have a background in psychology.

Psychological Criminology highlights the contributions that psychological theory can make to the broader field of criminology; it will be of interest to students, academics, researchers and practitioners in both criminology and forensic psychology.


Richard Wortley’s book is scholarly and lucid, wide-ranging in content, and undogmatic in tone. Most of all, it is timely. The need to bring together in an accessible form crime and criminality-relevant developments across the biological and psychological sciences had become urgent. The need is satisfied by this book.Professor Ken Pease, Loughborough University

Psychological Criminology should be essential reading for psychologists and all others who are interested in understanding the causes of offending.

It is a very impressive, comprehensive and empirically-based review of psychological, biological, situational and other major explanations of crime. David P. Farrington, Professor of Psychological Criminology, University of Cambridge

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Human Nature 3. Heredity 4. The Brain 5. Personality 6. Development 7. Learning 8. Cognition 9. Situations 10. Conclusions

About the Author

Richard Wortley began his career as a prison psychologist and has subsequently taught in criminology schools for many years. He is currently a Professor at University College London where he is Director of the Jill Dando Institute for Security and Crime Science

About the Series

Crime Science Series

Crime science is a new way of thinking about and responding to the problem of crime in society. First, crime science is about crime. Instead of the usual focus in criminology on the characteristics of the criminal offender, crime science is concerned with the characteristics of the criminal event. Second, crime science is about science, advocating an evidence-based, problem-solving approach to crime control. Crime scientists actively engage with front-line criminal justice practitioners to reduce crime by making it more difficult for individuals to offend, and making it more likely that they will be detected if they do offend

The Crime Science series is utilitarian in its orientation and multidisciplinary in its foundations, drawing on disciplines from both the social and physical sciences, including criminology, sociology, psychology, geography, economics, architecture, industrial design, epidemiology, computer science, mathematics, engineering, and biology.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Criminology