Forensic neuropsychology: Social, cultural, and political implications

Jessica Pykett*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter examines sociological and geographical theories relating to the causes of crime, criminal behavior, and the contextual factors in which these are enacted. It explains the differences between criminal responsibility, understood as individual culpability for a particular crime, and criminal justice, as a set of social, cultural, and political issues surrounding the fairness or otherwise of the practices of policing, law, and punishment. The chapter highlights the potential unintended consequences of forensic neuropsychology in terms of focusing public and expert debate on crime at the scale of the brain, gene-environment interactions, and "situational" factors, at the expense of more structural, socio-spatial explanations of crime and criminal behavior. It shows how criminality has shifted to a certain extent from an immoral form of behavior in need of punishment, through a mental health problem in need of treatment, toward a set of genetic-neural predispositions in need of prevention, pre-emption, and intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Wiley Blackwell Handbook of Forensic Neuroscience
EditorsAnthony R. Beech, Adam J. Carter , Ruth E. Mann, Pia Rotshtein
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781118650868
ISBN (Print)9781118650929
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2018


  • Criminal behavior
  • Criminal justice
  • Criminal responsibility
  • Forensic neuropsychology
  • Genetic-neural predispositions
  • Mental health problem
  • Punishment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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