A multidimensional assessment of adult recidivistic psychiatric inpatients: Testing a biopsychosocial theory of violent criminal behavior

Vincent Paul Rao, Fordham University


The purpose of this research was to examine the neurological, neuropsychological, psychological, and social dysfunction specific to a sample of criminal offenders and to uncover the relations between variables both within and across the four domains of functioning. The biopsychosocial model of criminal offending purports that the preponderance of dysfunction within each domain of functioning, and the subsequent interaction of dysfunctional characteristics both within and across domains, creates a vulnerability to criminally offend. Based on archival data, the sample was originally administered actuarial measures designed to ascertain functioning within each domain. Descriptive data found that significant dysfunction existed within each domain that exceeded general population base rates. Multiple correlations were found among variables within and between domains of functioning. Cluster analysis indicated that 2 clusters emerged both within domains and across domains that were primarily differentiated by level of severity of impairment. Crosstabulations and chi-square analysis suggested that domain-specific actuarial instruments were successful in identifying severe dysfunction across domains of functioning. The presence of dysfunction under each domain provided support to the biological, psychological, and social components of the biopsychosocial model. Correlations between variables within and across domains and the cluster analysis across domains of functioning supported the interaction process that purportedly occurs that exacerbates dysfunction and increases the predilection to commit crime, as outlined by the biopsychosocial model. Furthermore, the utility of neuropsychological and psychological measures in identifying impairment in neurological functioning indicated that multiple and less expensive types of instruments could successfully identify dysfunction that places individuals at high-risk for criminal offending. From this research, empirical support for the biopsychosocial model has far reaching implications on both preventative and remedial crime intervention strategies. The main conclusion from this investigation was that the contributors to criminal behavior are wide-ranging and have highly interactive characteristics that can exacerbate dysfunction and increase the vulnerability to commit crime. Strategies designed for crime prevention or remediation should take into account all contributory factors under the biological, psychological, and social domains and focus on the manner in which they may uniquely interact and impact the individual.

Subject Area

Criminology|Psychobiology|Social psychology

Recommended Citation

Rao, Vincent Paul, "A multidimensional assessment of adult recidivistic psychiatric inpatients: Testing a biopsychosocial theory of violent criminal behavior" (2002). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3056153.