When is an offender not a criminal? Instrumentality distinguishes self-reported offending of criminals

Donna Youngs, David Canter
  • Journal of Criminal Psychology, September 2014, Emerald
  • DOI: 10.1108/jcp-09-2013-0025

Convicted criminals are similar to non-convicted offenders

What is it about?

Self-reported offences are compared for those who have been convicted and those who have not. There are important similarities and differences. The main qualitative difference is the way convicted criminals use their crimes to achieve distinct ends, whereas those without convictions are more opportunist.

Why is it important?

As far as we can tell this is the first time such comparisons have been made. The results question the common criminological assumption that criminals are distinctly different from the rest of the population.


Professor David Canter
University of Huddersfield

This is part of a series of studies we have conducted that show there is a continuum of criminality across the population. Crime, in this perspective, is an extreme aspect of legal activities.

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The following have contributed to this page: Professor David Canter