Criminal Psychology Today

by: Brittany A. Smith

Criminal psychology focuses on the study of criminals. This field is receiving more and more attention thanks to films and television shows that have shown professionals in this branch of psychology. Criminal psychologists perform a range of tasks. They do everything from craft profiles of criminals and suspects to help the police and other law enforcement agencies track such people down. They can also conduct testing to determine a person's mental state before, during, and after a crime has taken place.

Criminal psychologists are not focused on diagnosing and then treating mental disorders in criminals. Instead, they focus on observing human behavior and considering the desires and motivations behind different actions. The training to become a criminal psychologist takes time and can include everything from a master's and doctorate degree in psychology.

People who study the actions of criminals are interested in understanding what makes a person commit a crime in the first place. Criminal psychologists study everything from the childhoods of serial killers to the romantic relationships they have had, the stressors in their life (i.e. losing a job, losing family, etc.). Additionally, they may also study how one's culture and society can play a role in shaping criminals.

Criminal psychologists also study the words and actions of criminals after they have committed crimes and after they have been caught. Often, such a professional can tell as much about a criminal from watching how they deal with being arrested and how they act in court as they can from a one-on-one interview.

Criminal psychologists know the clues to look for when approaching crimes of a specific nature, and they can create a working profile that can help track down the criminals before they hurt anyone else. A criminal psychologist can tell a lot about a criminal from the weapon they use to the gender and ethnicity of the victim. Such information can help determine the criminal's next crime, and it can lead to their capture and their arrest.

Often, if a criminal psychologist is brought into an investigation, they can be asked to do everything from walk a crime scene and create theories and hypotheses to actually interviewing and interrogating suspects in a crime. At times, this professional will also be asked to accompany officers to witness interviews or even to the suspect's residence.

Sometimes, criminal psychologists can be the ones who bring in the information that leads to the capture of the suspect in question. Thus, they provide an invaluable service to both law enforcement groups and to the legal system as a whole.

Argosy University offers a wide selection of bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree programs in a variety of psychology concentrations at 19 locations across the nation.