Examples of Psychological Positivism

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About this sample


Words: 748 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 748|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024


Psychological positivism represents an important paradigm within the broader field of criminology, emphasizing the role of individual psychological characteristics in influencing criminal behavior. Rooted in the broader positivist tradition, which seeks to apply scientific methods to social phenomena, psychological positivism focuses on inherent traits and mental processes that predispose individuals to deviant behavior. This essay will explore key examples of psychological positivism, examining various theories and their applications in understanding criminal behavior. By analyzing the contributions of notable psychologists and their research findings, this essay aims to illuminate the critical role of psychological factors in the study of criminology.

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One prominent example of psychological positivism is the theory of personality disorders and their correlation with criminal behavior. Researchers have long studied the links between specific personality disorders, such as antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) and psychopathy, and an individual's propensity for criminal activities. ASPD, characterized by a pervasive disregard for the rights of others and a lack of empathy, has been extensively studied in clinical and forensic settings. Psychologists such as Hervey Cleckley and Robert Hare have significantly contributed to this field. Hare's Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) is a widely used diagnostic tool that assesses the presence of psychopathic traits in individuals. Studies utilizing the PCL-R have consistently found that higher scores are associated with an increased likelihood of engaging in violent and non-violent criminal behavior. These findings underscore the importance of personality assessments in identifying individuals at risk for criminal conduct and implementing appropriate interventions.

Another key example of psychological positivism is the study of cognitive-behavioral factors that influence criminal behavior. Cognitive-behavioral theories posit that criminal actions are often the result of maladaptive thought patterns and learned behaviors. Albert Bandura's Social Learning Theory (SLT) is a cornerstone in this domain, emphasizing the role of observational learning, imitation, and reinforcement in shaping behavior. According to SLT, individuals may engage in criminal behavior after observing and mimicking the actions of role models, such as family members, peers, or media figures, especially when such behavior is rewarded or goes unpunished. Empirical studies have supported the efficacy of cognitive-behavioral interventions (CBIs) in reducing recidivism rates among offenders. Programs that focus on altering distorted thinking patterns, enhancing problem-solving skills, and promoting pro-social behaviors have demonstrated success in rehabilitating individuals and preventing future criminal activity.

Furthermore, psychological positivism can be observed in the exploration of biological and neurological factors that contribute to criminal behavior. Recent advancements in neuropsychology and brain imaging techniques have shed light on the ways in which brain structure and function influence behavior. For example, research has shown that abnormalities in the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for executive functions such as impulse control and decision-making, are linked to increased aggression and antisocial behavior. Adrian Raine's work on the neurobiological underpinnings of criminal behavior has been instrumental in this area. Raine's studies have demonstrated that individuals with damage or dysfunction in the prefrontal cortex are more likely to exhibit violent tendencies and engage in criminal activities. These findings highlight the significance of integrating biological and psychological perspectives in the study of criminology, providing a more comprehensive understanding of the factors that contribute to criminal behavior.

Lastly, psychological positivism extends to the examination of developmental and environmental influences on criminal behavior. Attachment theory, pioneered by John Bowlby, posits that early childhood experiences and the quality of caregiver-child relationships play a crucial role in shaping an individual's emotional and behavioral development. Insecure attachment styles, resulting from neglectful or inconsistent caregiving, have been associated with an increased risk of developing conduct disorders and engaging in delinquent behavior. Longitudinal studies have shown that children who experience adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), such as abuse, neglect, or household dysfunction, are more likely to exhibit aggressive and antisocial behavior in adolescence and adulthood. These findings underscore the importance of early intervention and supportive environments in mitigating the risk factors associated with criminal behavior.


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In conclusion, psychological positivism offers a valuable framework for understanding the complex interplay of individual traits, cognitive processes, biological factors, and environmental influences in shaping criminal behavior. Through the examination of personality disorders, cognitive-behavioral factors, neurobiological underpinnings, and developmental influences, this essay has highlighted key examples of how psychological positivism contributes to the field of criminology. By integrating diverse psychological perspectives, researchers and practitioners can develop more effective prevention and intervention strategies, ultimately contributing to a more nuanced and comprehensive understanding of criminal behavior. As our knowledge of psychology and neuroscience continues to advance, psychological positivism will remain an essential paradigm in the ongoing quest to address and prevent crime.

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Examples of Psychological Positivism. (2024, Jun 11). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 22, 2024, from
“Examples of Psychological Positivism.” GradesFixer, 11 Jun. 2024,
Examples of Psychological Positivism. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 Jul. 2024].
Examples of Psychological Positivism [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 11 [cited 2024 Jul 22]. Available from:
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