Eysenck's Theory of Personality

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Environmental explanation:

1. A child is conditioned
2. A child learns a sense of right and wrong
3. Child avoids behaviour which leads to punishment
4. Child controls own impulses

Some children are more biologically predisposed to the conditioning process. Children with criminal personalities (high ENP) are less likely to be conditioned in the 'normal' way. They actively seek stimulation and are tough minded, lacking guilt. 

Biological explanation:

Personality dimensions determined by the test are:

  • Extraversion / Introversion
  • Neuroticism / Stable
  • Psychoticism

A criminal personality is high extraversion (sociable), neuroticism (anxious) and psychoticism (aggressive)

There is a normal distribution of Extraversion - Introversion in the population, with 68% being ambiverts (an average level) and 16% in each extreme. High extraversion reflects a need for sensation / stimulation. Extraverts become bored easily and welcome the unconventional.

RAS = reticular activating system (responsible for maintaining arousal level.)

EXTRAVERTS: RAS dampens stimulation - individuals left under aroused - individuals engage in


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