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Criminal Psychology Essay Topics

Instructor: Joanna Harris

Joanna has taught high school social studies both online and in a traditional classroom since 2009, and has a doctorate in Educational Leadership

Are you teaching a unit or class on criminal justice or criminal psychology? The essay topics in this lesson will help your students explore key theories of criminal psychology through different types of essays.

Criminal Psychology

What makes people commit a crime? There is no single answer to this question, which is why criminal psychologists work so hard to consider the thoughts, motivations, and intentions of people who participate in criminal behavior. If you are teaching a class on criminal justice, psychology, anthropology or social science, it may be a good idea to assign one or more essays on criminal psychology. Essay writing allows students to practice their research skills. It also gives them a chance to exercise their critical and analytical thinking skills. The following essay prompts encourage students to think deeply about the many different reasons why people commit crimes.

Cause and Effect Essay Topics

  • Examine the causal relationship of psychiatric disorders that emerge in childhood or adolescence and incarceration later in life. Choose one psychiatric disorder, such as a mood disorder or substance use disorder, and write a cause and effect essay that explains how the disorder impacts risk of incarceration.
  • Examine the causal relationship between socioeconomic status and criminal behavior. Identify three reasons why socioeconomic status could lead someone to engage in criminal behavior.
  • Identify the ways in which social environment cultivates predispositions towards fighting and aggression. Use several research-based examples to write a cause and effect essay.
  • Compare and contrast the incarceration rates for males ages 18-25 who have a high school diploma to the incarceration rates of males in the same demographic who are high school dropouts. Write an essay that outlines the statistics and explains the causal relationship between education (or lack of education) and incarceration rates.

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