All About Punishment

An eye for an eye is one of the strongest human instincts, but reciprocating harm is not always the best course of action. Punishment sometimes works to condition people not to repeat misdeeds, and threats of negative repercussions can act as disincentives, but our ability to rise above our base instinct for revenge and judge each situation objectively and with an eye toward rehabilitation is one of the highest achievements of humanity and of civilization.

Recent posts on Punishment

Why Are Some States "Tighter" Than Others?

State-level differences in making and enforcing rules can help us understand why illicit drug use is lower—and levels of cautiousness are higher—in the South than in the West.
Charles C. Thomas

The Impact of Mentors

A new collection of important papers reminds us of past work in criminal psychology, as well as the importance of mentors.

Sex Work and Higher Education: A Mix of Disparate Identities

Recent research on student sex workers shatters societal misconceptions about sex work as connected with pathology and criminality/trafficking.

Ignored

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on May 01, 2017 in How To Do Life
A short short story

Restoring Our Selves and Others After Personal Injustices

We all encounter personal injustices in our daily lives. What can we do to achieve a satisfying resolution, while maintaining a balanced perspective of the actions of others?
pixabay.com

Guilty, With an Explanation

The increasing use of neuroscience in behalf of criminal defendants with "defective" brains raises a perennial question: how do we define responsibility and free will?

Play: A Different Perspective

Much has been studied and written about play, and we would like to consider play from a somewhat different perspective, namely, that of affect theory.

Income Inequality Itself Doesn't Make People Unhappy

By Jesse Marczyk Ph.D. on April 24, 2017 in Pop Psych
Despite the focus on inequality as a driver of human unhappiness, the reverse seems to be true. Inequality is either related to increased satisfaction, or no relationship exists.

How to Break the Cycle of Shame With Your Child

The more empathic you are as you set the limit, the more your child will accept the limit, and WANT to shift gears to channel his impulses into more acceptable behavior.
used with permission from iclipart.com

Which Is "Crazier?"

How does a forensic psychologist tease out the mind of a criminal defendant at the time he committed it? Debunking one myth - and investigating one source - at a time.

The "Guilty Dog" Look and Other Borrowed Signals

The guilty dog look and the human handshake have similar roots in the evolution of animal communication.

Who Killed JonBenet (Part 3): The Grand Jury

By Stephen A. Diamond Ph.D. on April 10, 2017 in Evil Deeds
What did the grand jury know about the JonBenet Ramsey case that we don't?

Why Elite White-Collar Criminals Are Rarely Punished

By Scott A. Bonn Ph.D. on April 09, 2017 in Wicked Deeds
White-collar criminals benefit from institutionalized non-enforcement practices, regulatory policies and legal representation not available to street criminals.

Empathy and the Jury Selection Process

If "equal justice under law" means what it says, then judges and jurors hearing cases must have evenly distributed empathy.

Explanation or Excuses for Stealing?

The criminal evaluates his evaluator.

Dealing With Feelings

"Minimize affect inhibition... Maximize positive affects… Minimize negative affects.” — Silvan Tomkins

Lady Justice Is Not Color-Blind

By Scott A. Bonn Ph.D. on March 19, 2017 in Wicked Deeds
The massive U.S. prison population does not mirror the demographic profile of U.S. society. There is a stark pattern of racial disparity in the prison population.

Why Men Post Revenge Porn Pictures

By David J Ley Ph.D. on March 17, 2017 in Women Who Stray
The culture has been rocked by more nude photo scandals, and they won't stop until we have thoughtful, nuanced conversations about why they happen.

On Criminology and Politics in the Social Sciences

By Clay Routledge Ph.D. on March 09, 2017 in More Than Mortal
A biosocial criminologist's thoughts on the state of his field, professional challenges, and ideological bias within the social sciences.

What If Your Child Chooses to Do Wrong?

Punishment drives the feelings underground and makes the bad behavior worse. Healing the feelings that are driving the behavior is what prevents a repeat of the misbehavior.

Should Parents Pay For Their Children's Incarceration?

A policy that imposes more suffering on people who are already suffering.

How Children Learn Right from Wrong

When children feel close to their parents, they want to "follow" them. Going against their parents would be going against the most important people in their lives.

Revenge Really Is Sweet

By Grant H. Brenner M.D. on March 06, 2017 in ExperiMentations
Revenge is sweet, but causes problems in the long run. Why do we so often turn to retaliation to feel better when it doesn't usually work out to mutual advantage?

Passive Aggressive Notes

An 8-year-old boy replaces aggression with passive-aggression, in response to his mother's attempt to punish him.

Five Ways to Be a Better Parent to Your Child With ADHD

Children with AD/HD have unique needs and present unique challenges for parents. How can you best meet these needs? Read on to learn more.

Psychopathic Killers Hide in Plain Sight

By Scott A. Bonn Ph.D. on February 26, 2017 in Wicked Deeds
The world’s most prolific killers are totally incapable of empathy or remorse. However, they rarely look like the scary monsters we expect them to be.

Who Killed JonBenet? Part 2: The Ransom Note

By Stephen A. Diamond Ph.D. on February 23, 2017 in Evil Deeds
A forensic psychologist breaks down the JonBenet Ramsey ransom note.
Paul Nunez

Are Some Scientists Serious About Denying Free Will?

A brief look at the issues of consciousness and free will.

Controlling Your Partner Is Illegal, But Not in the U.S.

By Lisa Aronson Fontes Ph.D. on February 17, 2017 in Invisible Chains
Domestic violence victims in the U.S. have less protection than in some other countries. Laws in England now make controlling a partner illegal.
Leszek Glasner/Shutterstock

In Praise of Healthy Revenge

By Jeanne Safer Ph.D. on February 08, 2017 in The Last Taboos
Getting even can be good for you.