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Before the advent of the psychology field, questions of who commits crimes, why they do it, how criminals should be treated, etc., fell to religion, philosophy or the law alone. Since the late 1800s, psychologists have undertaken the task of understanding human behavior and the mind, including that of criminals.
Criminal profiling had been used for decades in the United States and elsewhere, yet police intuition had been the guiding force behind it until more recently. In 1974, the FBI started a Behavioral Science Unit to study serial killers. FBI agents interviewed dozens of serial murderers to get inside their heads and develop theories on offender behavior. Nowadays, the FBI employs professional psychologists to aid in their work.
Criminal psychology encompasses many different areas of psychology from developmental to social psychology, and other fields as well. Studies in criminal psychology cover topics such as eyewitness testimony, crime scene analysis, social theories on violence, interview techniques, psychological assessment, offender behavior, offender treatment, statistical analysis of samples and more.
Learn more about criminal psychology at Helping Psychology:
How Do I Get a Degree in Criminal Psychology?
Forensic Psychology: Move Over, CSI
Criminal Psychology Master’s Degree: Steps to Success
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