Why People Commit Crimes

Published 01 Jun 2017

Table of content


Around the world, crime remains a plague that affects every human society. The said plague affects people of all ages and of all economic status in the society. In fact, the following reports particularly helps in proving this particular truth:

“Brazil . . . ,” we read, “seemed engulfed in a wave of violence and crime.”

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West Germany reports: Crimes involving narcotics increased between 1969 and 1970 by no less than 238 percent.
Denmark’s crime increased by 99 percent in the decade of the sixties.

Western Australia’s Sunday Times reported, in August 1972: “The incidence of violent crime in Western Australia has almost doubled in the past 12 months. And there is no apparent ready-made reason for the ‘incredible’ increase.” And from the other side of that continent, the Melbourne Herald observes: “Crimes of violence [since 1960] by Victorians under 21 rose . . . 187.9 percent. The number of Victorians under 21 increased . . . in the same period . . . 29.6 percent.”

“In Africa and Latin America,” says the U.N. report Crime Prevention and Control, “the same kind of picture can be drawn . . . During the 1960s, crime [in one African country] has more than doubled, some types of serious crime have apparently trebled, and, as stated in its Development Plan, ‘this problem is far more likely to grow than diminish.'”

Japan’s crime rate seems small compared to Western nations. But, in referring to recent crimes, Tokyo’s Daily Yomiuri said: “They are appalling and yet they are indicative of the serious disruptions that have occurred in relationships within Japanese society.”

Israel, the New York Times reports, has had a 35-percent overall increase in crime in the last five years; burglaries are up 200 percent.

In Communist China’s Kwangtung Province discontent among the young has reportedly led to “an upsurge of crime in Canton,” including gang fights.

Certainly, considering all these reports from around the globe, the truth regarding the growing dilemma of crime could be proven. However, the deeper question that should be treated in these particular situations is on how these crimes happen and how the said offenders of the law are able to bring themselves to repeatedly committing the same crimes over and over based on psychological studies.

The Theories of Social Psychology and Crime

There exist some people who are overwhelmingly affected by the pressures of the human society. More likely, the idea of being able to cope up with the different struggles of the human society within the community especially with regards economic situations. Psychologically, humans are affected with the fact that there are several pressures that exist to measure the capabilities of the said individuals as to how they are able to deal with the hardships of life.

It has been explained through studies that the said pressures are primarily coming from the family and the nearby environment of individuals who are easily moved to commit crimes and other acts as such. It is indeed essential to consider the family background of an individual crime offender to be able to identify the psychological factors that affected or influenced the said individual in committing the acts that he had been accused with.

The Family Background:

It is very important that the family background of a certain individual is given high regard by crime assessors. These are not among the personnels who investigate the crime; instead they are the ones who particularly examine the reasons behind the committed crimes by a certain individual. It is believed that through the examination of an individual’s family background, the crime offender’s motive in committing the act against the law could be deeply identified. According to studies, the upbringing of an individual directly affects his disposition and his views in life. Certainly, this implies that the environment that he was exposed to as he was growing up affects the values that he intends to apply in his daily dealings with the human society. This is the reason why it is not much considerable to accept the notion that only poor people are able to commit crimes. Through studies, it has been proven that the lack of time provided by the family members especially the parents affect the mental and emotional development of the individual. And through social intervention, it had been noted that most of the Children who grew up in rich families experience the lack of time spent with them by their parents, hence they are left out dealing with other people in the household, most likely servants and spending their time in front of the television sets. These particular factors intend to shape their values and thus later on affect their ideas of what is right and what is wrong.

The Social Pressures:

Peer pressure and an individual’s want of being able to please others in the society makes it harder for them to avoid being pushed by others in committing crimes. When people are pressured with their wants of being accepted by the society, they are at some point much more determined to do anything so as to be able to gain other’s assurance of being pleased with what they did. However, the consequences of the act that they commit are not suffered by those whom they ought to please but by themselves alone.


The two factors of psychological influences cited herein are only a few of the elements that are primarily affecting the decisions of individuals in committing crimes in their name. Aside from these two, there are also governing theories such as the deterrence theory that identifies a person’s acceptance of the situation through punishment or denial. These two procedures of easing the guilt of a particular crime offender identifies the fact that most of the crime offenders really did not ought to do what they have committed against the law. They wanted to do other wise but the influences that governed their decisions suggested to them to act differently.

The certainties that determine the fact that people are really innately concerned of their dealing with their fellowmen and are deeply affected by how their environment primarily affects them and their dispositions in life identifies the fact that people are capable of fixing what they did in offense of the others since they are not really innately bad in nature. They are simply strongly influenced by the society that they are living with.

Indeed, psychological factors are among the strongest influence that can control a man’s capability of facing the challenges of life. The roots of his growth and the influences of the environment in his personality and his attitudes towards life identifies the ways by which he is going to face the struggles that he is about to meet in life as he matures to an older age. Primarily, the ability of a person to see through the possible consequences that the society and his background could contribute in his growth would help him refuse doing things that are not lawful.


  • Robert Jervis . (April 1, 1989). Psychology and Deterrence. The Johns Hopkins University Press; Reprint edition.
  • Why people commit crimes.
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