You are not currently logged in. Please create an account or log in to view the full course.

Forensic Psychology – Cognitive Explanations for Offending

3. Cognitive Distortions

This is the course trailer. Please create an account or log in to view this lecture.

  • Description
  • Cite

About this Lecture


In this lecture, we think about cognitive distortions beyond moral reasoning, focusing in particular on: (i) defining cognitive distortions as errors and distortions in one’s thinking; (ii) understanding hostile attribution bias as a tendency to misinterpret the actions of others, seeing them as hostile or confrontational when they are not and minimalisation as downplaying the seriousness of an offence; (iii) hostile attribution bias in practice for non-criminal populations, as demonstrated by ‘road rage’; (iv) Crick and Dodge’s social information processing model, contextualised with angry children’s responses to environmental stimuli; (v) minimilisation in the form of using euphemisms and other evasive techniques to avoid acceptance and acknowledgment of criminal behaviour.


In this course, Professor Ciarán O’Keeffe (Buckinghamshire New University) explores cognitive explanations for offending. In the first lecture, we think about Eysenck’s criminal personality theory, which separates personality measures into three dimensions: extraversion and introversion (E), neuroticism and stability (N), and psychoticism (P). In the second lecture, we think about Kohlberg’s developmental theory of moral reasoning, with a particular focus on his preconventional stage. Next, we think about cognitive distortions beyond moral reasoning, including hostile attribution theory, minimalisation, and Crick & Dodge’s social information processing model. In the fourth and final lecture, we think about Sunderland’s 1939 differential association theory, its criticisms, and its influence on Bandura’s social learning theory.


Professor Ciarán O’Keeffe is associate professor of education and research and head of the School of Human and Social Sciences at Buckinghamshire New University. Professor O’Keeffe’s research interests include investigative psychology and parapsychology, and has made numerous television and radio appearances alongside an array of celebrities. Some of Professor O’Keeffe’s recent publications include 'Things That Go Bump In The Literature: An Environmental Appraisal of 'Haunted Houses'' (2020) and 'Restorative Justice and Recidivism: Investigating the impact of victim-preference for level of engagement' (2014).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

O'Keeffe, C. (2022, March 24). Forensic Psychology – Cognitive Explanations for Offending - Cognitive Distortions [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

O'Keeffe, C. "Forensic Psychology – Cognitive Explanations for Offending – Cognitive Distortions." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 24 Mar 2022,

Image Credits

Get instant access to over 7,300 lectures