Criminological theories are inextricably linked to psychology: they are essential keys to understanding criminal behavior. Psychologically oriented criminological theories seek to explain criminal behavior by exploring links to personality, cognition, and intelligence. Psychodynamic theory, behavioral theory, and cognitive theory are the three main psychologically oriented-criminological theories that clarify the factors of committing crimes (Linebach & Kovacsiss, 2016). Criminological theories are undergoing changes, mediated by the emergence of more in-depth research in psychology. On this basis, assessing the degree of change in criminology since Tarde and Lombroso allows for retrospective analysis and highlights fundamental differences.
Didactic criminology is based on the verification of perceptions and analysis of details of the crime, which will lead to the perpetrator and make it possible to identify him. Tarde and Lombroso laid the foundations for developing this approach in criminology by identifying the particular goal and prioritizing its attainment. Nevertheless, their views on crime, its nature, and analysis of the perpetrator’s portrait differed. Perhaps differences have contributed to the development of many approaches in criminology and the lack of a universally accepted strategy. Thus, for Tarde, who worked as a magistrate, crime was committed by an individual because of the influence of society. Based on statistics, Tarde argued that crime is a product of human dissatisfaction with oneself or society (Linebach & Kovacsiss, 2016). In contrast, Lombroso saw crime as the main sign of humanity and the behavior of the individual (Berveling, 2021). Behavior is justified by human nature, and therefore crime must also be seen as a natural behavior.
The principles they formulated are now used but in a revised and supplemented form. The psychological direction shaped by Tarde’s writings changed in the opposite direction. In the 20s, the prevailing view was that society was to blame for the change in the human personality. As a result, Tarde’s writings have been evaluated as the sociological basis for mass culture theories and public opinion analysis. Nevertheless, Tarde’s criminological assumption of the coercive process of repetition is not used.
Charles Lombroso justified crime as part of human nature, highlighting the biological causes of criminal behavior. In contrast to Tarde, Lombroso’s work has not only been widely publicized, but nowadays, sociologists pay more attention to the biological causes of crime. Jacobs’ work focuses on the influence of the Y-chromosome of males on behavior and statistical analysis of gender-related crimes (Berveling, 2021). We should also note R. Funes’ theory about the link between behavioral functions and the number of hormones produced by the endocrine glands. Thus, Lombroso pioneered the study of the offender’s personality and gave impetus to the development of biological criminological theories.
Despite the fruits of the labors of Lombroso and Tarde, it is now accepted to adhere to cognitive theory in forensic circles. The approach evaluates an offender’s actions from the perspective of morality and moral development, the persistence of behavioral change, and the ability to retain it in the long term. Psychological forensic theories go back to a comprehensive approach to assessing an individual’s behavior and the influence of society on it.
Moral principles of crime are not new; researchers are looking for ways to influence children to reduce the risk of involvement in bad companies. For example, Berveling draws attention to the scriptures and the church (2021). The Bible is a collection of moral principles that should take into consideration. For example, according to Proverbs 12:26, “The righteous man is careful in his friendship, but the way of the wicked is to lead them astray,” the individual should follow morality and critically evaluate the influence of society (NIV Holy Bible, 2020). Furthermore, it is worth considering the scripture from Micah 6:8 “He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what the Lord requires of you. To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God.” (NIV Holy Bible, 2020). Thus, the fundamentals of crime have been formed over a long period, constantly addressing the fundamental principle that hurting people is punishable and must be condemned.
Berveling J. (2021). “My God, here is the skull of a murderer!” Physical appearance and violent crime. Journal of the history of the neurosciences, 30(2), 141–154.
Linebach, J. A. & Kovacsiss, L. M. (2016). Psychology in the justice system. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
NIV Holy Bible (2020). Zondervan.