Everything on the Edexcel Psychology Criminal approach

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Criminal Psychology –

Criminal psychology aims to define crime and the explanations for behaviours which cause it. It also looks at different methods for treating offenders, for example through token economy or anger management. The judgements of criminals are also studied, as well as the accuracy of eyewitness testimony.

Definitions –


Any behaviour which breaks known laws. This behaviour can be learned and usually stems from aggression or anti social behaviour. Murder is an example of a crime.


Repeating a behaviour despite previous punishment or treatment for it. For example, behaving aggressively after being previously treated through token economy for this behaviour.

Token Economy:

A system of treatment based on operant conditioning which includes primary and secondary reinforcers. Offenders are treated through this programme by being rewarded with secondary reinforcers when they do not show aggressive behaviour.

Anti-Social Behaviour:

Behaviours which do not necessarily break any laws, but which are viewed negatively by society. For example, aggression.


Expecting particular behaviours from someone based on their appearance alone. These expectations may come from media representations or pre-existing schemas. For example, expecting aggression from a teenager wearing a hoody.


The demonstration of behaviours which are paid attention to, remembered and reproduced. This behaviour may be anti-social or aggressive and may lead to crime. The reproduction of this behaviour may also be referred to as modelling.

Eye Witness Testimony:

The statement of a witness to a crime. This statement may be inaccurate due to a number of factors – for example leading questions or the misinformation effect. Stereotypes may also bias eyewitness testimony, as judgements are made of certain individuals.

Research Methods –

Lab Experiments:

· Study cause and effect relationships between an independent and dependent variable. The independent variable is researcher manipulated. In experiments into eyewitness testimony, such as Loftus and Palmer’s, the independent variable may be the presence of a leading question in an interview. The dependent variable may be the accuracy of the witness’s statement.

· Lab experiments are based around an experimental hypothesis. This hypothesis may be based upon a theory. The hypothesis is either confirmed or amended depending on the findings of the study. In Loftus and Palmer’s experiment, the hypothesis was that eyewitness testimony would be affected when leading questions were present in interviews.

· The best example of a lab experiment into eyewitness testimony was Loftus and Palmer’s experiment. Participants in different conditions were shown films of car crashes and given questionnaires about the films after each one. The questionnaires were all the same, except for one which varied between conditions. This question was the independent variable. It asked participants ‘How fast was the car going when it hit the other car?’ but the word ‘hit’ was replaced with ‘collided’, ‘smashed’, ‘bumped’ or ‘crashed’ depending on which condition the participants were in. This question was asked to see the effect of a leading question on the participants’ estimates of speed.

ü A strength of lab experiments is that they are reliable. This…





Sam Steer


Amazing, Thank you!






This is amazing, thank you.

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