Relationship Between Personality Tests and Criminal Behavior

Relationship Between Personality Tests and Criminal Behavior

To formulate a general explanation of human personality is a long-desired destiny. Psychologists have conducted much research and are still conducting many studies to reach the goal, but it is very difficult to bring human personality within a framework of explanation.

Psychologists did not leave any aspect of human personality untouched. They studied almost all the positive and negative aspects of human personality.

They brought human emotion, temperament, morals, ethics, aggression, conformity, self-esteem, timidity, arrogance, tolerance, and loyalty within their purview.

The types of tests are numerous and include questionnaires, performance tests, free association tests, and the Rorschach test. But human personality, in spite of numerous studies, is still a riddle.

Personality Tests and Criminal Behavior

Schuessler and Cressey made a comparison of 113 studies, which used 30 different types of personality tests.

Through this device, they tried to identify a personality difference between criminals and non-criminals, and they found 42 percent differences in favor of the non-criminals; the rest were indeterminate.

From these findings, it is very difficult to conclude that personality traits are consistently related to criminality.

Waldo and Dinitz, while making a similar comparison, found a difference between criminals and non-criminals in 76 out of 94 studies (81 percent).

The evidence of a personality difference between criminals and non-criminals was seen to appear from their comparison, but the researchers concluded that no personality traits had a consistent relation to criminality.

The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)

One of the more reliable tests covering different aspects of human personality is MMPI, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, which covers 550 items.

When diagnosing adults who sought psychiatric help, all these items were developed. The individuals given the questionnaires should decide how far 550 statements are applicable to themselves.

There are some methods to identify untruthful answers. The test is divided into ten scales, and the individual is given a score on each scale; there is no overall scale.

A score profile is erected by taking scores from each scale, then a sketch of an individual’s full personality is pictured from the profile.

The ten scales indicate an assessment of the following:

  • Hypochondria;
  • Depression;
  • Conversion hysteria or disorder;
  • Psychopathic personality;
  • Masculinity-femininity;
  • Paranoia;
  • Neurosis;
  • Schizophrenia;
  • Hypomania; and
  • Introversion.

Recent Use of Personality Tests in Criminal Investigations

In detecting and solving serial murders, personality typing is being extensively employed in the United States of America.

Sadistic acts mutilation, or both accompany such murders. Most rational people consider these killings as the act of a madman, apparently having no motives.

Holmes and De Burger disagreed and pointed out that this type of killing arises from a feeling of enjoyment in killing others.

The murderers feel thrilled by killing certain types of people, like prostitutes, young women out at night, red-haired women, bearded men, tramps, etc.

The killings may be due to, they argue, a feeling of power over the victim and a seething draconian excitation in the killers. They are often referred to as extreme sociopathic personality types. They are asocial and do not seem to be affected by any guilty feelings when breaking social rules.

Driven by selfish and uncontrolled desires, they require prompt satisfaction without having any botheration for others’ sufferings. The perpetrators are sometimes senseless to love or affection.

An individual may acquire such a personality type by birth, but a more rational view is that relationships with parents and the volume of interpersonal violence encountered by an individual play a very significant role in developing such a personality.

Categories of Serial Murderers According to Holmes and De Burger

Holmes and De Burger have stratified serial murderers into four main categories. The first category has been designated as ‘Visionary Motive Type,’ who kill certain types of persons like prostitutes in response to voices. They are suffering from a psychotic mental problem.

‘Mission Oriented Motive Type’ is the second category, which appears to be normal to all people leading a very normal life. They kill certain types of people whom they consider unworthy, like prostitutes, tramps, old people, women with long hair, and black males.

Their killings are very planned and organized. “Hedonistic Type” is the third category, who kill others only for pleasure. This category has a notorious sub-group designated as ‘lust killer.’

They get sexual gratification by abusing others and inflicting pain and sexual mutilation. The fourth category has been labeled as the “Power/Control-Oriented Type.” To establish full control over the life and death of another, this type of killing takes a very sadistic form.