Emotional Extremes Of A Criminal Not Necessarily An Emotional Disorder

A lot of criminals or social offenders are characterized by quick changes in their moods, from extremely high to extremely low. These changes in moods can happen frequently — even within a single day of a criminal’s life. He or she may appear to be elated at one time, feeling that he or she is in control, but in a short span of time, will just snap out of it and become sad and bad-tempered. These quick changes in moods may be seen by others as an emotional disorder that needs medical attention. Realistically speaking, if a professional were to look into a criminal’s mind, he or she will soon determine that a criminal’s quickly changing moods may really because of his or her unrealistic expectations of the people around him or her and of himself or herself. Offenders commit such mistakes of setting improper expectations and when he or she commits crimes, it is because he or she thinks there is something wrong with other people, not with himself or herself. He or she expects other people to behave the way he or she expects them… Read More

Should We Be More Concerned With Prenatal Exposure In The Prevention Of Crime?

Crime and violence has existed throughout human history, and the search for answers as to what causes such behavior has lead to a variety of proposed theories. Criminal behavior is often associated with a variety of social and environmental risk factors that people are exposed to throughout life; lack of education, unstable family life and poverty are some of the most common examples. According to this perspective, crime is a result of a combination of these risk factors that people are exposed to in their lifetime. The purpose of this post is to explore another perspective, which emphasizes the role prenatal exposure to environmental and biological substances plays in the development of criminal behavior later in life. The effects of lead exposure, and maternal and second-hand smoking will be discussed, along with statistics as they relate to the topic. Additionally, the evolutionary neuroandrogenic theory, which suggests a link between prenatal androgen exposure and criminal behavior, will be examined. The goal of this post is to highlight the complexity of crime, and to help illustrate why one particular theory alone is not sufficient in determining the origin of… Read More

Study Review: Borderline Personality Disorder and Social-Cognitive Deficits

Those afflicted with borderline personality disorder (BPD) are characterized with a variety of cognitive and emotional deficits seen throughout life regarding the regulation of emotions, impulsivity, and maladaptive images of self and others. This often leads to a pattern of unstable interpersonal relationships. Early life trauma and genetics are theorized to play major roles in the development of this condition. Up until recently, research has mostly been focused on the neurophysiological abnormalities that may play a role in the disorder, particularly in the amygdala, insula, and anterior cingulate cortex, all of which are thought to be involved in emotional and affective processing, and the regulation responses to stress. The purpose of this post is to review a study called “Dysregulation between emotion and theory of mind networks in borderline personality disorder”. Rather than strictly look at the physiological aspects of borderline personality disorder, researchers O’Neill and colleagues instead focus on the potential social-cognitive deficits, including mentalization and theory of mind, while also observing any differences in functional connectivity within the neural networks. Mentalization refers to the process in which people internally and externally interpret the actions of… Read More

Deindividuation | Kenneth Padowitz, P.A.

Some of our recent discussions have been concerned with topics relating to how individuals tend to underestimate the role of environmental or situational influences on behavior, and to overestimate individual personality factors, when concerning other people. To recap, the fundamental attribution error is a term, which refers to the common human error in which people tend to underestimate situational influences and overestimate individual personality factors, when explaining behavior. We also looked at one example of the fundamental attribution error, crimes of obedience, which is defined as: an act performed in response to orders from authority that is considered illegal or immoral by the larger community. We discovered that this phenomenon can occur in various circumstances of violence, even in cases of nonviolence including white collar crime or government scandal such as Watergate. This post will explore the concept of deindividuation, which is based on the classic crowd theory in the book The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind by Gustave Le Bon. Deindividuation tends to refer to the fact that when people are placed into groups or surrounded by a crowd, many people seemingly lose their sense of identity… Read More

Crimes of Obedience

In my last post, we discussed a psychological term, the fundamental attribution bias, and were able to determine how it affects the way people make judgments about others. To recap, the fundamental attribution error is a term, which refers to the common human error in which people tend to underestimate situational influences and overestimate individual personality factors, when explaining behavior. This post will focus on the phenomenon of crimes of obedience, which is defined as: an act performed in response to orders from authority that is considered illegal or immoral by the larger community. This phenomenon can occur in various circumstances of violence, and even in cases of nonviolence including white collar crime in the corporate world. An example of crimes of obedience within a nonviolent political context could be Nixon’s Watergate scandal. In summary, this was a highly publicized political scandal occurring in the United States due to the 1972 break-in at the DNC (Democratic National Committee) headquarters in Washington, D.C. One “shocking” study, mentioned in nearly every psychology textbook, which was conducted by Milgram in 1977, demonstrated the effect of obedience to authority in a sample of… Read More

Fundamental Attribution Error

What is the Fundamental Attribution Error? The fundamental attribution error is a term, which refers to the common human error in which people tend to underestimate situational influences and overestimate individual personality factors, when explaining behavior. Even though most research on crime favors the view that both personality and situational factors play a mutual role in determining behavior, most people neglect to realize or acknowledge this. The fundamental attribution error tends to only apply when making attributions about others. When explaining our own behavior, the opposite is true; we tend to discount dispositional factors in favor of situational forces. This is also known as a self-serving bias, in which we tend to give credit to our personality traits when referring to something good about ourselves; when referring to bad things or events, we blame external situational forces. For example, if we were to hypothetically ask a group of correctional counselors why they believe certain inmates committed crimes, they would most likely attribute it to personality characteristics: laziness, aggression, negative worldview, etc. If we were to ask the inmates, they would probably blame external forces for their problems,… Read More

The Life of Alfred Binet pt. 5

In July of 1905, the first version of the Simon-Scale of intelligence was published in L’Annee Psychologique. Up until this point, there was no reliable standardized test for intelligence in existence; except for the Western world, the test was not widely accepted or used until after Binet’s death, not until the late 1920’s for France. The development of this test is what Binet is most recognized for today, as it was able to establish a “progressive metric scale of intelligence”. The test was created within only a few weeks, consisting of 5 subtests and 25 abstract questions that had been based on fifteen years of Binet’s research; certain sections, including the test which measured short-term memory and produced by Jacobs in 1887, were directly taken from other studies. The sample size for testing the validity of the original Binet-Simon scale only consisted of 50 children. It was also the first intelligence test to arrange the questions in order of ascending difficulty; this concept is still used in the current versions of the Standford-Binet scale being used today. Many of the subtests as well as specific questions in… Read More

The Life of Alfred Binet pt. 4

In 1897, with the help of Edouard-Gerard Balbiani, an embryologist, Binet founded and directed Intermediaire des Biologistes. Organe International de Zoologie, Botanique, Physiologie et Psychologie. The journal was not affiliated with any school, and was created with the purpose of creating just another outlet of communication for psychologists. In 1899, Theodore Simon and Henri Pieron joined the lab, and began working under Binet at Sorbonne. Simon provided many needed test subjects and helped Binet continue building upon the work that had been started with “Individual Psychology”. Around this time, Binet joined the La Societe Libre Pour l’Etude Psychologique de l’Enfant (SLEPE), the free society for the psychological study of the child, which was a group of teachers, psychologists, and school administrators that were all involved in current educational issues. By 1902, he became its president. In 1903, Binet published his book, L’Etude Experimentale de l’Intelligence, which explained certain exercises that he used and noted their results. Today, they are referred to as projective tests, which included: responses to ink blots, imaginative storytelling in response to stimuli, sentence-completion questionnaires. It is worth noting that the inkblot tests that… Read More

The Life of Alfred Binet pt. 3

For the next year after, Binet was unaffiliated with any institution, and instead conducted home experiments on his two daughters, using various puzzles and mental tests. In 1891, he met someone at the Rouen train station by the name of Henri-Etienne Beaunis, who happened to be the director of France’s first experimental psychology lab, called the Laboratory of Physiological Psychology at Sorbonne. Soon after, Binet volunteered to work as an unpaid assistant, under the direction of Beaunis. Only a year later, Binet became deputy director of the laboratory; By 1893, he started issuing a newsletter a newsletter at the lab, Bulletin des Travaux du Laboratoire de Psychologie Physiologique. In 1894, Binet replaced Beaunis and gained the title of director, which was still an unpaid position. In the same year, he founded the first French psychological journal called L’Annee psychologiqu, and he also earned a Ph.D. in natural science; his dissertation being on the anatomy and physiology of the sub-intestinal nervous system of insects. The L’Annee psychologiqu is focused on laboratory research, and still regularly issued as of today. As the director of his Sorbonne laboratory, Binet conducted… Read More

The Life of Alfred Binet pt. 2

From 1883-1890, Binet was able to conduct his research at the hospital, by volunteering as an unpaid assistant of Charcot’s. In 1884, he married Laure Balbiani, the daughter of a well-known biologist who held professorship at the College de France. Together they had two daughters, Madeleine in 1885 and Alice in 1887. In 1886, Binet wrote a report on exterior perception, which he later won an award for at the Academie des Sciences Morales et Politiques. Also in 1886, he published his first book La Psychologie du raisonnement; and in 1887, another book called Le magnetisme animal. Etudes de psychologie experimentale, a book Binet helped write that focused on the psychic life of microorganisms, hypnosis and hysteria, was also published, in 1888. During his time at the hospital, and under the influence of Charcot,  They obtained the same results as Charcot had in his own research, and were from then on believers in its validity. Binet was considered by many an aggressive proponent of Charcot’s grand hypnotisme; many believe this was due to the fact that Binet was offered his first position in the field of psychology… Read More