Criminal Psychology Vs Forensic Psychology

Criminal psychology and forensic psychology are two distinct fields of study within psychology. In the early 20th century, while criminal psychologists were primarily concerned with understanding human nature, forensic psychologists were mainly trying to explain criminals and their motives. However, over time, it has become clear that the two practices are not mutually exclusive; as research in both areas of knowledge increases, the boundaries between these two specialties seem to be blurring.

What is Criminal Psychology?

In order to fully grasp the scope of criminal psychology, it is essential to first define the concept of crime. Legal action or inaction that violates the law is referred to as a crime. The definition of crime, however, is flexible; what constitutes a crime depends on the circumstances surrounding the action, including the place and time it was done, as well as the local social norms. Robert Agnew said that "acts that inflict blameworthy injury, are criticized by the public, and/or are not sanctioned by the state" should be considered crimes.

There will be some psychological weaknesses in people at different periods of life, whether they are teens, college students, or adults in society. For various reasons, these flaws will cause certain people to develop criminal psychology. Many hypotheses of how criminal social defects are formed have been proposed since these criminal psychologies are frequently influenced by people's environments rather than by individual factors.

Criminal psychology combines criminology and psychology to explain the reasons for criminal behavior, whereas criminology focuses on the study of crime, criminal behavior, and responses to crime (Newburn, 2013). Criminal psychology has been characterized in a variety of ways.

An American psychologist named Wrightsman (2001) proposed a more thorough definition of criminal psychology, "defining it as any application of psychological knowledge or procedures to a challenge faced by the legal system".

Combining psychology and law, criminal psychology helps to understand criminal behavior and intentions and supports offenders by providing therapies to control and modify such conduct. In the context of criminal psychology, deviation and crime might be related, albeit they are not necessarily considered as the same thing.

What is Forensic Psychology?

The psychological aspects of legal proceedings are the focus of forensic psychology. The phrase is frequently used to describe the psychological approach to crime and investigation. Nothing formally enters the sphere of forensic psychology; control of the term in a "forensic" manner. The list of forensic psychology programs is not just for criminals; it also includes programs for courts, police, attorneys, criminal investigations, criminal behavior, police appointments, education, disciplinary actions, and more. It also encompasses all areas of our laws and communication systems.

According to Rightsman, "forensic psychology is characterized by the use of information methods or psychological images related to the work of prison gadgets."

The term "forensic psychology" refers to the scientific study of psychology as a science and its application to legal, judicial, and courtroom situations.

The field of forensic psychology focuses on the psychological elements of judicial proceedings. An area of psychology that is still developing is forensic psychology, which includes evaluating people. However, throughout the years, this relatively new discipline has played a crucial part in the Criminal Justice legal system.

Although they both use the same methodologies, forensic psychology and clinical evaluation are not essentially the same.

What is the Difference Between Criminal Psychology and Forensic Psychology?

The given table describes the major difference between criminal psychology and forensic psychology −

BasicsCriminal Psychology Forensic psychology


Criminal psychology also referred to as criminological psychology, is the study of the goals, thoughts, and feelings of criminals as well as everything else involved in criminal conduct.

A field that integrates the study of psychology with the law is forensic psychology. People who work in this sector apply their psychological knowledge to the legal system.


Studying methods for resolving disputes that arise between the investigator, the offender, and the victims throughout a case investigation is the goal of criminal psychology. It is also responsible for developing effective therapies to maintain and improve the mental health of professionals, in addition to offering therapy to offenders and victims.

Forensic psychology is used to prosecute offenders and stop future crimes. "The scientific process for investigating crimes" is the sole definition of the word "forensic."


The role of criminal psychology means examining crime scenes as well as criminals to understand their actions.

Often, forensic psychology aids in the prosecution and mitigation of crimes.


Criminal psychology is the study of the minds and behaviors of offenders. This can include general personality and mental health disorders as well as their actions during criminal activities. It is a field that has developed over many years, with research in the area steadily increasing. Forensic psychology focuses on how people act when they are committing a crime (or have been accused of one). It aims to understand why they did what they did and how they will continue to act in similar circumstances. Both these fields of study have been used in criminal cases that needed expert opinion or analysis from qualified experts. Furthermore, the law is continually absorbing new technology and ideas in order to give additional hints for the discovery of criminal cases. This is in line with the ongoing changes in society. Judges can simultaneously strike a balance between justice and effectiveness in the adjudication process, protecting people's fundamental rights to a certain extent. Criminals are not created; neither are they born. As scientists, we can identify the root causes of criminal conduct and provide effective remedies to lessen it. Government agencies, school districts, and correctional facilities frequently use criminal psychologists and forensic psychologists to evaluate potential offenders and offer guidance on the best course of action.