Category Archives: Aggression

Why English youths are more violent than Swedish youths

mylifeincrimeOne article in particular from the latest issue of European Journal of Criminology (Vol. 5, No. 3) caught my eye. Per-Olof H. Wikström and Robert Svensson report findings of a study to uncover why English youths are more violent than Swedish youths. At first glance it seems as if Wikstrom and Svensson are engaged in a circular argument:

… we use data from the English Peterborough Youth Study and the Swedish Eskilstuna Youth Study. The findings show that in both cities (1) young people’s self-reported violent behaviour is predicted by crime propensity and lifestyle, and their interaction, and (2) a substantial proportion (40 percent) of the difference in the level of violence vanishes when taking into account national differences in young people’s crime propensity and lifestyles. We conclude that the findings support the notion that one major cause of the difference in the level of violence among young people in England and Sweden is that more young people in England have a higher crime propensity and are living criminogenic lifestyles than in Sweden [from the abstract].

In other words, it looks as if they’re arguing that youths in England are criminals because they live a criminal lifestyle (a bit like this study reported in Improbable Research). In fact, it’s rather more interesting than that.

Here’s the theoretical framework Wikstrom and Svensson use to explore the data:

Two central ideas in criminology are that crime involvement is a consequence of (1) individual crime propensity and (2) criminogenic features of the environments to which an individual is exposed… One recent theory that takes into account the role of the individual–environment interaction in the explanation of crime is the situational action theory of crime causation … The cornerstone of the situational action theory is the assertion that human actions (including acts of crime and violence) are an outcome of how individuals perceive their ‘action alternatives’ and make their choices as a result of the interaction between their individual characteristics and experiences (propensities) and the features of the behaviour setting in which they take part (environmental inducements) [p.311].

Wikstrom and Svensson’s analysis indicates that not only are there more youths with higher levels of crime propensity in Peterborough compared to Eskilstuna but they also have lifestyles that are more ‘criminogenic’, i.e., they do things that put them into risky settings, which are more likely to prompt or facilitate criminal behaviour. Interesting stuff.


Other articles in this issue include:

  • The Greek Connection(s): The Social Organization of the Cigarette-Smuggling Business in Greece – Georgios A. Antonopoulos
  • How Serious Is the Problem of Item Nonresponse in Delinquency Scales and Aetiological Variables?: A Cross-National Inquiry into Two Classroom PAPI
  • Self-Report Studies in Antwerp and Halmstad – Lieven Pauwels and Robert Svensson
  • Self-Control in Global Perspective: An Empirical Assessment of Gottfredson and Hirschi’s General Theory Within and Across 32 National Settings – Cesar J. Rebellon, Murray A. Straus, and Rose Medeiros
  • Reassessing the Fear of Crime – Emily Gray, Jonathan Jackson, and Stephen Farrall

Photo credit: Marxchivist, Creative Commons License

New issue: International Journal of Law and Psychiatry International Journal of Law and Psychiatry


The June/July issue of the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry International Journal of Law and Psychiatry (Volume 31, Issue 3) is a special issue on psychopathic traits and risk assessment in children and adolescents, edited by Theo Doreleijers and Robert Vermeiren. A range of articles deals with identifying psychopathic traits, prediction of violence and risk assessment.

Three articles of forensic interest in Personality and Individual Differences

Three articles of forensic interest in the March 2008 issue of Personality and Individual Differences 44(4):

Docuticker round up of criminal Justice-related reports

ex libris gul law reports collectionRound-up of reports featured on Docuticker in the last few weeks:

More Men, More Crime: Evidence from China’s One-Child Policy (published by Institute for the Study of Labor December 2007):

…This paper exploits two unique features of the Chinese experience: the change in the sex ratio was both large and mainly in response to the implementation of the one-child policy. Using annual province-level data covering the years 1988-2004, we find that a 0.01 increase in the sex ratio raised the violent and property crime rates by some 5-6%, suggesting that the increasing maleness of the young adult population may account for as much as a third of the overall rise in crime. [PDF available]

Law enforcement responses to trafficking in persons: challenges and emerging good practice (published by Australian Institute of Criminology, December 2007):

…This paper focuses on the challenges that may confront law enforcement officials in any country in their efforts to detect trafficking, identify victims, investigate offences and contribute to the successful prosecution of offenders. Drawing on international experience, this paper identifies some examples of emerging good practice that can help to overcome these challenges, and contribute to the effectiveness of the larger criminal justice response to trafficking. [PDF available]

Criminal justice responses to drug and drug-related offending: are they working? (published by Australian Institute of Criminology, December 2007):

…Over the past seven or eight years, almost every state and territory has implemented a range of so-called drug diversion programs that operate at different points along the criminal justice continuum. … If these initiatives are achieving their objectives, then such costs should be more than offset by the benefits accruing to the community through a reduction in illicit drug use and related offending, improved health and wellbeing for former drug dependent offenders and reduced case loads for the criminal justice system. The key question is ‘Are these programs working: are they, in fact, meeting their primary aims?’ This report attempts to provide some insight into these questions by giving an overview of key findings from national and state-based evaluations that have been undertaken of these initiatives. It will summarise the outcome-based results currently available, identify the knowledge gaps that still exist and point to areas where further work is required to provide a more definitive insight into the value of these programs. [PDF available]

Violent Crime in America: A Tale of Two Cities (published by Police Executive Research Forum, November 2007). From the Overview:

…early indications for 2007 suggest that the countermeasures are beginning to have an impact on crime, according to PERF’s latest survey. When the same sample of 56 jurisdictions used in PERF’s previous surveys are analyzed, aggregate crime levels reported by police agencies for the first six months of 2007 show overall reductions in homicides and other violent crimes. Importantly, however, there are still many jurisdictions reporting increases in violent crime. … We are calling this latest violent crime report “A Tale of Two Cities” to reflect this volatility of crime patterns. [PDF available.]

Sexual Victimization in State and Federal Prisons Reported by Inmates, 2007 (published by Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2007):

An estimated 4.5 percent of state and federal prisoners reported a sexual victimization in a survey mandated by the Prison Rape Elimination Act, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics announced today… The survey was conducted in 146 state and federal prisons between April and August 2007, with a sample of 23,398 inmates. [PDF available]

Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children: What Do We Know and What Do We Do About It? (published by National Institute of Justice, December 2007):

Much investigation remains to be done regarding the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC). As with other “low visibility” crimes, there is a lurking “dark figure” of unreported cases. Moreover, little reliable information exists about the types of people who exploit children in this way. Research has revealed that CSEC takes place at three levels: local exploitation by one or a few individuals, small regional networks involving multiple adults and children, and large national or international sex crime networks where children are traded and sold as commodities. [PDF available]

Photo credit: ex_libris_gul, Creative Commons License

New issue: Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology 18(4)


Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology 18(4) is now online. Follow the link to the publisher’s website for abstracts and access to full text articles.

Contents include:

  • Medical evidence for the purposes of recall to hospital under Section 42(3) of the Mental Health Act 1983 – Ikechukwu Obialo Azuonye
  • Opening communicative space: A Habermasian understanding of a user-led participatory research project – Paul Godin; Jacqueline Davies; Bob Heyman; Lisa Reynolds; Alan Simpson; Mike Floyd
  • Risk typologies of serious harm offenders managed under MAPPA: Mental health, personality disorders, and self-harm as distinguishing risk factors – Joanne Wood
  • Homicide-suicide in the Netherlands: A study of newspaper reports, 1992 – 2005 – M. C. A. Liem; F. Koenraadt
  • Forensic inpatient male sexual offenders: The impact of personality disorder and childhood sexual abuse – Manuela Dudeck; Carsten Spitzer; Malte Stopsack; Harald J. Freyberger; Sven Barnow
  • HoNOS-secure: A reliable outcome measure for users of secure and forensic mental health services – Geoff Dickens; Philip Sugarman; Lorraine Walker
  • Parental schemas in youngsters referred for antisocial behaviour problems demonstrating depressive symptoms – Leen Van Vlierberghe; Benedikte Timbremont; Caroline Braet; Barbara Basile
  • The role and scope of forensic clinical psychology in secure unit provisions: A proposed service model for psychological therapies – Gisli H. Gudjonsson; Susan Young
  • On aggression and violence: An analytic perspective – Colin Campbell

New issue: Journal of Interpersonal Violence 22(11)


The November 2007 issue of Journal of Interpersonal Violence 22(11) is now online. Follow the link to the publisher’s website for abstracts and access to full text articles.

Sign up for personalised ToC alerts here .

Contents include:

  • Assessing the Factors Associated With Sexual Harassment Among Young Female Migrant Workers in Nepal – Mahesh Puri and John Cleland
  • Parricide: An Empirical Analysis of 24 Years of U.S. Data – Kathleen M. Heide and Thomas A. Petee
  • Weapons Used by Juveniles and Adult Offenders in U.S. Parricide Cases – Kathleen M. Heide and Thomas A. Petee
  • Postdicting Arrests for Proactive and Reactive Aggression With the PICTS Proactive and Reactive Composite Scales – Glenn D. Walters, Alice A. Frederick, and Charles Schlauch
  • Acculturation Stress, Drinking, and Intimate Partner Violence Among Hispanic Couples in the U.S. – Raul Caetano, Suhasini Ramisetty-Mikler, Patrice A. Caetano Vaeth, and T. Robert Harris
  • An Analysis of Korean Homicide Crime-Scene Actions – C. Gabrielle Salfati and Jisun Park
  • Structural Validity of the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist Among College Students With a Trauma History – Jon D. Elhai, Matt J. Gray, Anna R. Docherty, Todd B. Kashdan, and Samet Kose
  • Clinical Epidemiology of Urban Violence: Responding to Children Exposed to Violence in Ten Communities – Ilan Harpaz-Rotem, Robert A. Murphy, Steven Berkowitz, Steven Marans, and Robert A. Rosenheck

New issue: Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology 18(3)


Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology 18(3) is now online. Follow the link to the publisher’s website for abstracts and access to full text articles.

Contents include:

  • Theory of mind function, motor empathy, emotional empathy and schizophrenia: A single case study – Karen Addy; Karen Shannon; Kevin Brookfield
  • The development of a scale for measuring offence-related feelings of shame and guilt – Kim Wright; Gisli H. Gudjonsson
  • An audit of the association between the use of antipsychotic medication and bone density measurement in female patients within a special (high security) hospital – Jane Orr; Liz Jamieson
  • A study of forensic psychiatric screening reports and their relationship to full psychiatric reports – Pål Grøndahl; Stein E. Ikdahl; Alv A. Dahl
  • Staff responses to the therapeutic environment: A prospective study comparing burnout among nurses working on male and female wards in a medium secure unit – Rajan Nathan; Andrew Brown; Karen Redhead; Gill Holt; Jonathan Hill
  • Evaluating innovative treatments in forensic mental health: A role for single case methodology? – Jason Davies; Kevin Howells; Lawrence Jones
  • The identification and management of suicide risk in local prisons – Jane Senior; Adrian J. Hayes; Daniel Pratt; Stuart D. Thomas; Tom Fahy; Morven Leese; Andy Bowen; Greg Taylor; Gillian Lever-Green; Tanya Graham; Anna Pearson; Mukhtar Ahmed; Jenny J. Shaw
  • The validity of the Violence Risk Scale second edition (VRS-2) in a British forensic inpatient sample – Mairead Dolan; Rachael Fullam
  • Criminal barristers’ opinions and perceptions of mental health expert witnesses – Ophelia Leslie; Susan Young; Tim Valentine; Gisli Gudjonsson
  • The Michael Stone Inquiry: A somewhat different homicide report – Herschel Prins

Podcast round up

MP3onredSome recent podcasts on topics relevant to psychology and crime:

Reforming the New Orleans Criminal Justice System (Leonard Lopate Show, 13 Sept):

Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans… Police stations and jails were ruined, essential information and files were lost, and the people who make up the criminal justice system were traumatized and displaced. Two years after the hurricane the system is up and running, but serious problems remain. Michael Jacobson, the Director of The Vera Institute of Justice, joins Leonard to speak about what happened in the aftermath of Katrina and what can be done to improve the justice system. MP3

Tackling Indonesian terror (ABC Radio, Australia, Background Briefing, 23 Sept):

In a first for the international media, Bali bomber Ali Imron is let out of prison to explain why he’s now working to stop terrorism. In this exclusive interview, Ali Imron tells of how he’s battling with his radical brothers to prevent further violence. It’s just one part of Indonesia’s ground breaking and controversial counter terrorism strategy. MP3

Steven Pinker: A brief history of violence (TED talks, Sept 2007):

In a preview of his next book, Steven Pinker takes on violence. We live in violent times, an era of heightened warfare, genocide and senseless crime. Or so we’ve come to believe. Pinker charts a history of violence from Biblical times through the present, and says modern society has a little less to feel guilty about. (Various options for downloading video and audio via the above link.)

Hate Crime and Racism in Russia, Part I and Part II (Leonard Lopate Show, 4 Oct):

Three years ago, the brutal murder of a 9-year old Tajik girl in Saint Petersburg turned international attention to the rise of neo-fascist groups and hate crime in Russia. Since then, the situation has not only gotten worse, it’s also fallen off the mainstream media radar. Attacks are up 28% since 2006, and many observers think the actual number of crimes is even greater. (Part I MP3, Part II MP3.)

Photo credit: Focus_on_me, Creative Commons License

New issue: Aggressive Behavior 33(6)


Aggressive Behavior 33(6) , Nov/Dec 2007 is now online. Follow the link to the publisher’s website for abstracts and access to full text articles.

Contents include:

  • The impact of aggressive priming, rumination, and frustration on prison sentencing – Eduardo Antonio Vasquez, Vanessa O. Bartsch, William C. Pedersen, Norman Miller
  • Longer you play, the more hostile you feel: examination of first person shooter video games and aggression during video game play – Christopher P. Barlett, Richard J. Harris, Ross Baldassaro
  • Sequence and priming in 15 month-olds’ reactions to brief arm restraint: evidence for a hierarchy of anger responses – Michael Potegal, Sarah Robison, Fiona Anderson, Catherine Jordan, Elsa Shapiro
  • Young adults’ media use and attitudes toward interpersonal and institutional forms of aggression – Sonya S. Brady
  • Women who kill their husbands: mariticides in contemporary Ghana – Mensah Adinkrah
  • Psychopathy and behavioral correlates of victim injury in serious juvenile offenders – Michael J. Vitacco, Michael F. Caldwell, Gregory J. Van Rybroek, Jason Gabel
  • Human proactive aggression: association with personality disorders and psychopathy – Sylvain O. Nouvion, Don R. Cherek, Scott D. Lane, Oleg V. Tcheremissine, Lori M. Lieving
  • Physical aggression as a function of perceived fighting ability among male and female prisoners – John Archer
  • Impulsive and premeditated subtypes of aggression in conduct disorder: differences in time estimation – Donald M. Dougherty, Rachel E. Dew, Charles W. Mathias, Dawn M. Marsh, Merideth A. Addicott, Ernest S. Barratt

Shyness, suggestibility and aggressive driving

shynessThe journal Personality and Individual Differences covers wide range of interesting material and there’s usually one or two articles in each issue that have relevance to forensic issues, either directly or in directly. Here’s a selection from recent and forthcoming issues.

In the September issue, Gisli Gudjonsson and colleagues report that individuals with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were not more suggestible in an interview situation than a control participants without ADHD. Gudjonsson et al. explain that ADHD participants didn’t yield to misinformation, leading questions and interrogative pressure, though they did give a disproportionate number of “don’t know” replies.

In November’s issue, researchers from Carlton University in Ontario report results of a study exploring whether shy eye-witnesses differ from non-shy witnesses when it comes to recall memory and susceptibility to misinformation. Contrary to predictions, they don’t (although the shy ones do get more stressed about it). It’s always interesting when you get negative results, or results that contradict existing findings. But my interest in this particular study is tempered by the fact that the ‘witnesses’ were watching a filmed mock crime rather than a genuine event.

Finally, in the December issue (which is already online), Murray Millar from the University of Nevada examines the relationship between emotion, personality and behaviour. He found that although people may get angry when they are driving, they are less likely to behave aggressively if they are the sort of person who cares a lot about what others think of them, a trait known as public self-consciousness. Miller explains:

Private self-consciousness is the tendency to focus attention upon the inner aspects of oneself such as thoughts, inner feelings, and physical sensations. Public self-consciousness is the tendency to focus attention on the self as a social object. People high in public self-consciousness are concerned about what other people think about them and how they appear to others

Miller concludes:

The current study indicates that when people are angry public self-consciousness influences whether anger leads to aggressive behavior. Overall, the relationship between personality and aggression is likely to involve a constellation of personality traits with some traits predisposing people to anger and other traits predisposing people to express anger as aggressive behavior. At a practical level, the present study suggests that when attempting to reduce aggressive driving behaviors it might be useful to focus on variables that combine with anger to produce aggression. For example, a combination of interventions aimed at reducing anger and increasing public self-consciousness, at least while driving, may reduce the amount of aggressive driving behavior.

What’s true for aggressive driving behaviour may well be true for other forms of aggressive behaviour too.


Photo credit: cheesebikini, Creative Commons License