Psych in the City 2007
The Psychology of Violent Behaviour
Dr. Kevin Douglas
Psychologists, like many people in society, have long puzzled over violence. What causes it? How can we predict it? How can we reduce it?
Violence is a salient public health concern that affects hundreds of thousands of Canadians annually, and costs society enormously. Why do some people act in a chronic and persistently violent manner?
Psychological science has identified a number of risk factors for violent behaviour, as well as possible means by which to reduce the risk for violence.
Several topics being studied by SFU researchers are highlighted. For instance, the role of major mental illness (i.e., schizophrenia) is a controversial, yet potentially important, phenomenon to understand in terms of its relationship to violence.
Certain personality traits, such as psychopathic personality, also have implications for violence, as do procriminal attitudes, and alcohol and drug problems.
Certain background factors (parental criminality; abuse) and contextual considerations (neighbourhood characteristics; stability of housing) elevate the risk for violent behaviour.
Importantly, social scientific research has identified promising violence reduction strategies that have been demonstrated to reduce violent behaviour. The presentation will conclude with suggestions for how psychological science can contribute to the reduction of violent behaviour in society.