Decoding a Cyber Criminal (Part 1)



Biological factors are those which effect the behavior and function of a living organism.  These factors are either inherited, or caused by an event in the organisms life and can be physical, psychological, chemical, neurological, or genetic.  Biological factors are a primary driver of activity.

As seen in the psycho-social map above, there are a multitude of elements which factor into an individual’s motivation, choice, desire, and compulsion to participate in cyber crime.

Biological theories purport that criminal behavior is caused by some flaw in individual’s biological makeup. According to the Raine Study, the causes may be heredity, neurotransmitter dysfunction, as well as brain abnormalities, which could be caused by genetics or the onslaught of a traumatic event or accident.



The endocrine system controls the hormones that the body produces.  It regulates metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, and mood.

It has been shown that high levels of testosterone, one of the bodies main regulatory hormones, increases aggression and is correlated with criminality.  Studies in genetics have shown that men commit more crimes than women and this can be due to the increased testosterone.  Low levels of serotonin have also been shown in those who commit crimes more often.

Damage to certain structures within the brain may result in deficiencies in planning or changes in personality, which may increase likelihood of criminal activity.  Most notably, damage to the prefrontal cortex which controls personality expression, planning, decision making, and social behavior, can increase the likelihood of violent expressions.

There are several types of crime control involving artificial interference in human biology such as psychosurgery, chemical methods of control, brain stimulation and others.  These are used to reduce or ameliorate levels of aggression to more acceptable states.




Unusual neural activity levels in certain areas of the brain may be associated with Antisocial Personality Disorder, which is characterized by aggressiveness, irresponsibility, and criminal activity.  Activities which can be early indicators of Antisocial Personality Disorder include running away, skipping school, fighting, possessing weapons, lying, stealing and damage to either animals or property.

Sigmund Freud did much research into the personality of criminals in his work on the id, ego, and super ego.  Freud believed that every individual carries “residue of the most significant emotional attachments of our childhood, which then guides our future interpersonal relationships” (Siegel, 2005).  His psychodynamic theory of personality is a three-part structure consisting of the id, the ego and the super ego.

  • Id: the primitive part of our personality that controls our need for food, sleep, sex, and other basic instincts; driven by the pleasure principle
  • Ego: mediates the unrealistic id and the external world
  • Superego: incorporates the values and morals of society which are learned from parents and community


From a psychodynamic perspective, the personality of criminals is id-dominant.  Being driven by the pleasure principle, criminals strive for immediate gratification of desires, wants, and needs.  If these need are not satisfied immediately, it results in a stat of anxiety or tension.  The individual acts upon his or her most basic urges to lessen this tension, with no concern for whether the behavior is appropriate, acceptable, or legal.


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One response to “Decoding a Cyber Criminal (Part 1)”

  1. Great set up work you’ve done here and I’m looking forward to reading the next part(s)!

    Some questions:

    Self-control and delayed gratification in kids (keeping the id in-check) has been linked to success in later life. Could you argue that self-control factors into how successful criminals will be?

    Any thoughts on Dark Triad and Cluster B personalities?


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