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Eysenck's Criminal Personality Theories

Learning Aims

1. Eysenck’s Criminal Personality Theory and criticisms of the theory including the issue of individual differences.

2. Describe the Criminal Personality Theory Research Study – Heaven (1996): Study into delinquency, extroversion, psychoticism and self-esteem.

3. Re-cap or learn research methods - Questionnaires - Features of doing research and their associated strengths and weaknesses including reliability and validity.

• Open questions

• Closed questions

• Rating scales

4. Re-cap or learn research methods – Correlations - Features of doing research and their associated strengths and weaknesses including reliability and validity. • Use of quantitative data

• Positive, negative and zero correlations Research Methods - Analysing

5. Research: Scatter Diagrams.

This is a bigger learning unit that can be completed over a number of weeks if you are studying psychology 2.5 hours a week.

To begin with, I want you to use the resources below to research Eysenck's theories and create a blog post or website that explains everything you need to know. There are some activities below to help you complete the task.


OCR GCSE Psychology (9-1) - Criminal - Eysenck's Theory

1.8 Personality and criminal behaviour

The Brain of a Murderer - Are You Good Or Evil? - Horizon - BBC

Take the Eysenck's personality test yourself here.


1. Create a key terms poster for:

central nervous system

reticular activation system

cerebral cortex

dopamine reward system

autonomic nervous system

limbic system

dopaminergic neurons

synaptic transmission




criminal personality


early socialisation

2. Explain why extraversion, neuroticism and psychoticism are likely to cause criminal behaviour.

3. Draw a character map for the typical criminal. Draw the criminal at the centre and label around the outside.

4. Draw a map of the brain and nervous system of a serial killer, labelling all the main parts and what role they play.

Criticisms of Theory

1. It ignores individual differences and places people into broad categories.

2. It seems unlikely that people with a similar personality type would commit such a wide range of crimes.

3. It is too deterministic, individuals do not have control over their criminal behaviour and so the usefulness of such a theory to preventing crime is low.

4. Some argue that psychoticism does not cause criminal behaviour but is rather a definition of criminal behaviour.

5. Some argue that Eysenck does not put enough emphasis on nurture. Rather than saying neurotic extraverts are difficult to condition it would be better to focus on how we condition them. If conditioned correctly then they do not need to turn to crime.

Examples of Other Student websites

Be creative with your site, it will be a great revision resource for you to come back to.

Heaven (1996)

This was a longitudinal, cross-sectional study that used self-reporting questionnaires. If you do not understand any of these terms or find you are struggling to understand the media below go and take a good look at the research section of this course first before you continue.


OCR GCSE Psychology (9-1) - Criminal - Heaven

Heaven 1996 Mrs Curry

Here is a great PDF you can print out to help you identify the main aspects of the study.

Now add a section to your website about Heaven's study. Remember to include:

1. The background and aim of the study.

2. The hypothesis.

3. The method ( research design, sample and procedure).

4. The results and findings of the study including a graph.

5. The conclusions of the study.

6. The criticisms of the study.

Here is an example of another students website.

Now is a good time to make sure you have completed the self-report methods unit of the course as both Eysenck and Heaven relied on self-reporting to gather data. If you have already completed it, go back and watch the videos if not go and complete the unit.

Then record, as it applies to Eysenck's theory and the Heaven study, what you have learned about this method for future reference.

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