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date: 24 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter summarizes the knowledge about the key individual difference factors that have been proposed to underlie criminal potential. It discusses temperament and personality, explores the relation between impulsivity and offending, and investigates low intelligence and offending. The chapter then examines the evidence for low empathy and cognitive (decision-making) factors. In isolation, these (or any other) individual differences cannot fully explain the development of offending, but the strength of the evidence suggests that any complete theory would need to take into account at least some of these factors, as all are potential “risk factors” for later offending. While there are different ways of conceptualizing a risk factor, generally they refer to an extreme category of an explanatory variable.

Keywords: individual difference factors, temperament, personality, impulsivity, low intelligence, low empathy, cognitive factors, risk factors

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