How Criminologists Work with Experimental Research

A criminologist is someone who studies crime and criminal behaviors in an attempt to understand the methodology behind the people who commit the crimes and why they feel compelled to do so.  A criminologist in essence will analyze criminal behavior and the methods employed during the crimes, to aid their employer whether this may be law enforcement or in the private sector. The criminologist will work up a profile of the type of individual that is most apt to commit certain sorts of crimes based on either data or research that may have been collected by the criminologist or that may have been collected by others.

The profiles that the criminologist create are most often based upon certain criteria that includes the psychological behavior of the criminal, the social class and any issues pertaining to that class, environmental factors, the educational levels of those most likely to commit certain acts and also biological factors that may play into said behavior. These profiles will allow law enforcement and other agencies to better understand the statistical information available to them and will also aid law enforcement in the development of possible strategies to prevent criminal behavior.

Experimental research conducted by criminologist enables them to often times study more closely the relationship factors as to the how and why of the criminal mind. In order to have a true experiment there are often three elements used to collect data:

Control or a comparison group
Random selection of test subjects
A condition that warrants experiment

These three elements are the basis for experimental research in the criminologist field.  As an example if a criminologist wanted to know if a violent movie will cause the movie-goers to act either aggressively or violently, he/she would then select a group at random and have half watch a gory and/or violent movie while having the other half of subjects watch a more sedate film with a “feel-good” plot line. The group that watched the gory or violent movie would be monitored for any signs of aggression and if the group does prove to be more aggressive or violent than the “feel-good” movie goers a base would be established a link between watched media and behavior.

Today criminologist experiments have become a rarity due to cost effectiveness and ethical issues as most often the experiments involve the manipulation of people’s lives to procure an outcome. Experimentation is an important tool for any type of investigation, but often a long follow-up time is also required when conducting experiments and often is not feasible.

Experiments have been an important source of data in the past and while it is possible to conduct experiments today there are not often used due to the expenses they impose and the often times legal and ethical practices required to conduct the experiements.