Inside the Criminal Mind

While criminals may look like ordinary people who come in all shapes and sizes and come from similar backgrounds, research has shown that they share similar traits. Here’s a look at some of those traits and other factors that have had proven link to those involved in serious crimes and violence.

Brain Structure

A common link among those who participate in crime and violence is the part of the brain called the amygdala. The amygdala is the part of the brain associated with fear, aggression, and social interactions.

Dustin Pardini, PhD of the University of Pittsburgh and his research team found that 26-year-old men with lower amygdala volumes were over three times more likely to be aggressive, violent, and to show psychopathic traits over time than other 26-year-old men with normal-sized amygdala.

Other research done by Andrea Glenn, PhD, of the Univeristy of Alabama suggests that amygdala functioning — not just size — is more likely to be reduced among those with psychopathic tendencies.

10 Common Traits of Criminals

These are traits that are common among career criminals, or people who “use crime as the primary method for financing their morally bankrupt lives.”


People who commit crimes tend to rationalize their behavior by blaming their victims’ motives and behaviors by saying things like, “if that lady didn’t want her purse stolen, she would have locked her car.” As part of the rationalization process, the career criminal generally doesn’t evaluate the consequences of their behavior.


Career criminals tend to be apathetic to those around them, and think that their life is all about them. Basically, these people think that they have the right to commit any crimes they desire because life is all about them. All the time.

Asocial Value System

Several criminals suffer from antisocial personality disorder, which is sometimes called “criminal thinking.” This is also where apathy kicks in. The career criminal will rarely, if ever, show empathy toward others or remorse for their actions.


Despite criminal’s anti-social behavior and apathetic tendencies, many career criminals look at themselves in a positive light because they feel sentimental toward things like children and animals. This helps a criminal rationalize their behaviors and see themselves as a decent person.


Career criminals are far more likely to lack self-control and act on every impulse. This is a dominating characteristic of career criminals. This means that most criminals lack control of their temperament, often resulting in violent behavior.

Family Dysfunction

One of the most common environmental factors that influence career criminals is a lack of family support on both financial and emotional levels. When a person’s family is unable to provide any sort of psychological and emotional stability, it can often lead to significant problems for a person who may already be prone to anti-social behavior.

Substance abuse is usually found in dysfunctional family environments, which causes further problems in family stability that is crucial to already at-risk children’s upbringing.

Easily Distracted

A lot of criminals fall back into their old habits and go back to prison multiple times because they sometimes have distraction issues and often lose focus of their socially acceptable goals.

Power Centric

Career criminals tend to look at situations and people as a power struggle where they need to be the one in control. They see things as a battle between strong and weak, and once the criminal decides they hold the strength, they exploit their weaker opponent.


Many career criminals are extremely optimistic, which makes them believe that they are invincible and will never get caught. This is why many criminals work in a pattern that later gets them arrested. Once they’ve done something that worked in the past, they continue doing it because they believe that they can get away with it.

Cognitive Laziness

Lack of ambition and choosing the path of least resistance is a trademark among career criminals. They become easily bored which leads them to make poor decisions.

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