Criminal Behavior

Course Leader: Dr Viviana Andreescu

Home Institution: University of Louisville, USA

Course Overview
The course is an introduction to the major theoretical perspectives that frame the study of criminal and delinquent behavior. It examines the biological, psychological and sociological factors related to criminal behavior, the role of theory and research in preventing and controlling crime, and the policy implications of theory-based crime research. The relationship between social institutions and antisocial behavior will be discussed in this class as well.       

Learning Outcomes

  • At the end of the course, students are expected to have a good understanding of the major theories of crime and delinquency and of their policy implications
  • Students will acquire a set of skills that will enable them to identify, analyze, and explain different aspects of criminal behavior
  • Students will learn to think comprehensively about the solution of social problems, crime and delinquency included
  • The course should also increase the students’ ability to critically assess published materials focusing on crime and delinquency
  • The course will provide knowledge that students should be able to use in other courses in the curriculum and in their personal life

Course Content

  1. Criminal behavior and the development of theoretical criminology
  2. Assessing the incidence of crime
  3. Classical & neoclassical criminology
  4. Biosocial theories of crime
  5. Psychological theories of crime
  6. The social ecology of crime. Social disorganization theory and routine activities theory
  7. Learning and cultural transmission theories of crime
  8. Strain theories of crime
  9. Control theories of crime. Crime over the life course and factors influencing desistance
  10. Theories of social conflict and labeling theory                   

Instructional Method
Although class meetings will generally follow a lecture format, students are expected to attend class regularly, be active participants, and contribute consistently to class discussions. Questions, comments, and suggestions related to the topics covered in class are strongly encouraged. It is essential for the successful outcome of this course that readings and homework assignments be completed in a timely manner.

Required Course Materials*

Akers, R.,  Krohn, M. D., Lonn Lanza-Kaduce, L. & Radosevich, M. (1979) Social learning and deviant behavior: A specific test of a general theory. American Sociological Review, 44(4), pp. 636-655.

Andreescu, V., (2017). Family, school, and peer influences on alcohol abstinence and use among American Indian and white female adolescents. Deviant Behavior. (online first)

Andreescu, V., Shutt, J. E. & Vito, G. F. (2011). The Violent South: Culture of Honor, Social Disorganization, and Murder in Appalachia. Criminal Justice Review, 36(1), 76-103.

Chiricos, T., Barrick, K., Bales, W., and Bontrager, S. (2007). The labeling of convicted felons and its consequences for recidivism, Criminology, 45(3), 547-581.

Moffitt, T. E., Lynam, D. R. & Silva, P. A. (1994) Neuropsychological tests predicting persistent male delinquency, Criminology, 32(2), 277-300.

Sampson, R. J. & Laub, J.H. (1990) Crime and deviance over the life course: The salience of adult social bonds. American Sociological Review, 55(5), 609-627.

*The instructor will provide pdf copies of these articles.

Recommended readings:

Miller, J.M., Schreck, C., Tewksbury, R. & Barnes, J.C. (2015). Criminological Theory: A Brief Introduction. Fourth Edition. Boston, MA: Prentice Hall.

Students will work through the assigned reading materials, will take two exams, and 2-4 quizzes. The first exam will include questions (multiple-choice, true-false, and open-ended) referring to the first five modules. The second exam will cover modules 6 – 10. Each quiz will include 1-2 short essay-type questions.


10% Class participation (CP); 20% Quizzes (Q); 35% Exam 1 (E1); 35% Exam 2 (E2);

GRADE = .10CP + .20Qs +.35E1 + .35E2