Human Behavior

black Image of scales on white background with the words, "calibrate the scales" overlaid. As with any set of scales, the scales of justice must, from time to time, be recalibrated. Total balance is never achieved, but all in the criminal justice and legal systems must strive for it as much as possible.

By C J Oakes, May 10, 2017

No study of criminal justice and law would be complete without a study of human behavior. Human behavior shapes history, carving out empires as readily as it writes sonnets. Everything that was ever worthy of being written was written because someone behaved or misbehaved.

The world’s first psychologist, Sigmund Freud understood this. When he began to study human behavior, he started with those society deemed unworthy of society…criminals. In starting the new science, Freud reasoned that the best way to understand normal behavior was to define and understand abnormal behavior. This has been shown to be not entirely correct, but that does not discount the need for criminal justice and law professionals to understand how criminal minds work.

“History is the history of human behavior, and human behavior is the raw material of fiction.”
Amy Waldeman

Human Behavior, Criminal Justice, Law, and History

Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, smok...
Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, smoking cigar. Español: Sigmund Freud, fundador del psicoanálisis, fumando. Česky: Zakladatel psychoanalýzy Sigmund Freud kouří doutník. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Because human behavior is connected to everything anyone does, it stands to reason that to understand why a criminal does what he/she does, we need to first understand the basics of human behavior.

As any criminal justice major will attest, one of the core classes required in nearly every college curriculum is Psychology 101. Yet, often those entering the field give this subject but a cursory glance. In so doing, they are shortchanging themselves and society.

In the Issues Pages of this website, we offer articles related to the impact mental health has on the criminal justice and legal systems. The goal here is different.

Whereas those pages deal with practical, in-the-now situation impacting criminal justice professionals, especially police and corrections officers, these pages offer a philosophical approach. This approach centers on a theory of human behavior developed by the publisher of this website, C J Oakes. This theory has been developed and partially tested over the course of the last 30 years and explains all human behavior in clear, simple terms. It is the hope of Mr. Oakes that future researchers will pick up his work and take it places he has yet to. This new way of lookng at human behavior first and foremost answers the core question initiated by Freud, namely, “Why do we do what we do?”

The simple fact about history is that it is most often shaped by the desires driving those who would break the rules imposed by society–essentially, law-breakers.

  • Christopher Columbus challenged popular notions of the earth in his time and could have face excommunication for so doing–a sentence not unlike prison today.
  • Galileo Galilei faced the same penalty for having the nerve to state that the earth revolved around the sun. The Church viewed him as criminal.
  • The American Colonies decided to determine their own political fate and broke from England they were traitors and terrorists–criminals.
  • Russian peoples broke from their monarchy in 1913 and launched the Soviet Union. They won, but had they not they would have been hung as traitors and criminals.
  • The Confederate States of America broke from the United States triggering the Civil War. This was viewed by President Abraham Lincoln as a criminal act and he acted accordingly.
Galileo Galilei. Portrait by Ottavio Leoni. De...
Galileo Galilei. Portrait by Ottavio Leoni. Detail. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The point is when people break from the norm, when people step outside the limits imposed by the greater society, when people choose to color outside the lines, history is the result whether it is told in books or family letters. It stands to reason that anyone dealing with persons intent on ignoring societal rules needs to understand the driving forces behind such behavior.

By knowing the driving forces, the motivations, the MOTIVES behind criminal acts, the person searching for, handling, transporting, representing, prosecuting, judging, or in any other way dealing with offenders will have the tools needed to best handle that person. For instance,

  • Prosecutors can better explain motives to the jury
  • Defense attorneys can better present extenuating circumstances
  • Jailers can tell the difference between a real emergency and a distraction
  • Detectives can better understand what is driving the crime

The material in this section of Criminal Justice Law is presented as follows…

  1. A New Way of Looking at Human (and Criminal) Behavior
  2. Understanding the Role of Motive in Human (and Criminal) Behavior
  3. What is “Rational” Behavior?
  4. Redefining Sane Behavior
  5. Redefining Insanity
  6. The Three Faces of Human Motivation
  7. The Four Forms of Human Motivation
  8. How do the Faces and Forms Combine to Fulfill Human Needs?
  9. What Do We Need?
  10. Positive and Negative Motivators
  11. The Role of Values in Meeting Needs
  12. Values Systems: Six Methods that Shape Behavior
  13. Combining Values Systems
  14. Redefining Criminal Behavior
  15. The Role of Conditioning in Values
  16. Changing Values = Changing Behavior
  17. Why Humans Need an Identity
  18. Why Humans Need to Feel Secure
  19. Why Humans Need Stimulus
  20. Understanding Physical Motivators
  21. Understanding Emotional Motivators
  22. Understanding Mental Motivators
  23. Understanding Transcendent Motivators
  24. Conformity Versus Individualism in Human Behavior
  25. Comfort Versus Discomfort in Human Behavior
  26. Rejuvenation Versus Exhaustion in Human Behavior
  27. Power Versus Impotence in Human Behavior
  28. Acceptance Versus Rejection in Human Behavior
  29. Justice Versus Injustice in Human Behavior
  30. Knowledge Versus Ignorance in Human Behavior
  31. Understanding Versus Confusion in Human Behavior
  32. Wisdom Versus Folly in Human Behavior
  33. Love Versus Hate in Human Behavior
  34. Faith Versus Doubt in Human Behavior
  35. Hope Versus Despair in Human Behavior
  36. The Role of Collective Values in Shaping Criminal Behavior
  37. The Role of Authoritative Values in Shaping Criminal Behavior
  38. The Role of Scientific Values in Shaping Criminal Behavior
  39. The Role of Logic Values in Shaping Criminal Behavior
  40. The Role of Sensory Experience in Shaping Criminal Behavior
  41. The Role of Intuition in Shaping Criminal Behavior
  42. Why Theories of Behavior both Clash and Combine?
  43. Why Collective Values Create Strong Social Divisions?
  44. Why Authoritative Values Pose the Greatest Dangers to Society?
  45. How Can This New Theory Contribute to a Safer World?

As you can see, this new theory of human behavior is a large project.

But it is a project that has been 30 years in the making. It encompasses every human behavior, sane or insane, lawful or criminal, ‘normal’ or strange.

Each article listed above will contribute to the overall theme of this new theory of human (and criminal) behavior, namely, that everything we do we do to fill a need. This is the primary thesis of this theory and it shall be proven through reasoning, existing research, former theoretical concepts, proven behavior laws, and a careful cross-examination of various sciences.

If you have questions or would like in any way to discuss these further, we encourage you to do so in our Forum.

Continue Reading 1. A New Way of Looking at Human (and Criminal) Behavior