IQ, violence and crime

Don’t quote me exactly but from memory something close to 70% of offenders sent to prison offend again and are sent back. I also think people would be surprised to find that while they think our “prisons are full” it is actually just a tiny % of the population, almost the same offenders over and over. Obviously this is topped up by first time jail birds but still you will find it is very often the same faces time and again.

It makes no logical sense to me why someone would want to waste their life by spending half of it in prison on various visits added up. I just see no logic to that kind of life at all. You may as well live in the gutter as to opt for a life like that. No one will ever be proud of a son or father like that. Your only friends would likely turn and slit your throat at the blink of an eye. You spend your life getting told what to do and when like a big baby. You wreck your chances of employment and of holding down a relationship.
And the majority of these fools don’t even have anything at the end to show for it.

Its not like they are doing sophisticated diamond heists – they are wasting their lives doing crimes that bring them no gains at all. Its not even as if they are going to jail as a “political prisoner”. At least that might have some valour to it. Nope. The bulk of the time they are going to prison because they do things and conduct themselves like a chimpanzee having a huge big outburst of stupidity.

Which brings me to my point – the relationship between a low level of intelligence and these patterns of criminal behaviour, esp of the low end and in the gutter types of crime.

It would seem logical to me that there is a link. The idea of these ‘gentlemen criminals’ in prison who wear a silk smoking jacket and spend their time sipping fine wine and reading complex works are something that mostly exists in the cinema. You do get individuals of that type but they are extremely rare.

For the most part the majority of people you will find locked up in British prisons have one thing in common – completely dense. Ever tried holding a conversation with some habitual visitors to prison? I have. Their reasoning powers are all over the place. Its like talking to another species.

I’ve personally spoken to men that I’d call extremely violent and dangerous. Its surreal. These are people who would cave someone’s head in for £20 if they were due them. There’s no getting them to see that maybe what they did is sort of out of proportion. In their mind it is unquestionably justified.
You may get the occasional success story, the guy who turns his life around. But for the most part if lads are going to prison in their 20’s they will be going in their 40’s. The one thing that struck me about talking with these violent ex prisoners is that for all their violence they are almost child like. Their thinking is entirely led by emotion, they just do things and react. I found even the most violent had this emotionally stunted quality. Its always a mine field putting yourself around these people but I found it helped when I kept that in mind.


Numerous studies link low IQ to violent behaviour, delinquency, and adult crime. In fact, as Bruce Bower recently noted in Science News, “Intelligence deficits make up one of the most firmly established characteristics of criminal offenders as a whole.”

A prison inmate’s IQ, as well as the average IQ of a prison unit, can play a role in predicting violent prison misconduct, according to a recently published UT Dallas study.
The study, featured in the latest issue of the academic journal Intelligence, is a rare examination of the relationship between intelligence and violent misconduct in prison. Previous research has shown the link between IQ and crime in society. UT Dallas doctoral student, Brie Diamond, led the study, which is co-authored by UT Dallas criminologists Dr. Robert Morris and Dr. J.C. Barnes, who teach in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences.


While it is acknowledged that a range of personal and environmental factors are likely to influence offending behaviour (e.g. gender, age, peer support, poverty, education, ethnicity, low impulse control, empathy, psychological well-being, personality, etc.), the link between low levels of IQ and criminal involvement continues to receive considerable attention (Diaz, Belena, & Baguena, 1994; Jolliffe & Farrington, 2004). In fact, a meta-analysis of research examining the influence of cognitive and affective empathy to offending behaviour found that the relationship between low empathy and offending disappeared after controlling for intelligence and social economic status (Jolliffe & Farrington, 2004). This is not to disregard the concept of empathy, but rather, the ability to understand another person’s emotions may be a primary function of intelligence, which ultimately also has links with offending (Jolliffe & Farrington, 2004). More broadly, research that has aimed to examine the origins of offending behaviour (particularly juvenile delinquency) continues to identify low IQ as a predictor of criminal behaviour (Diaz et al., 1994).


(Artists impression of Frankish brain)



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