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Forensic Psychology – Biological Explanations for Offending

3. Raine et al. (1997)

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In this third module, we think about the Raine et al. (1997) study, focusing in particular on: (i) the specific brain areas which have been previously linked to violence; (ii) the quasi-experimental design of this study, due to the lack of independent variable manipulation, that being whether the participant was or was not a murderer; (iii) the findings that the left hemisphere areas previously linked to violence were less active in murderers, but also that right hemisphere brain areas not previously linked to violence showed increased activity; (iv) limitations of the results, crucially that violence in individuals cannot be predicted by these results.


This course, by Professor Ciarán O’Keeffe (Buckinghamshire New University), explores biological explanations for offending. In the first module, we think about the concept of ‘making a criminal’ and the transition from philosophical to scientific methodologies. In the second module, we think about biological strategies for preventing criminal behaviour, including nutritional interventions and facial surgery for criminals. In the third module, we think about the Raine et al. (1997) study, which identified brain areas linked to violence and aggression. Next, we think about the Haney et al. (1973) study, also known as the Stanford Prison Experiment, run by Philip Zimbardo. In the fifth module, we think about how brain injury can influence violence and aggression, as well as the ability for brain injury research to inform our understanding of this field. In the sixth and final module, we think about XYY syndrome and the mixed results research on it have found regarding its impact on violence, aggression and criminal behaviour.


Ciarán O’Keeffe is associate professor at Buckinghamshire New University. He specialises in both forensic and criminal psychology, as well as parapsychology (the study of mental phenomena which are inexplicable by conventional psychology). Professor O’Keeffe’s background is in investigative psychology and now teaches across a range of forensic and criminal psychology courses. He has made numerous television and radio appearances alongside an array of celebrities.

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APA style

O'Keeffe, C. (2022, April 01). Forensic Psychology – Biological Explanations for Offending - Raine et al. (1997) [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

O'Keeffe, Ciarán. "Forensic Psychology – Biological Explanations for Offending – Raine et al. (1997)." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 01 Apr 2022,

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