Why Do People Commit Crimes?

A crime is defined as an illegal action or activity that may lead to prosecution and is punishable by law. Committing a crime could lead to serious or even lethal consequences, yet there are still people who commit even the most serious ones. So why do people commit crimes?

Some crimes may appear foolish and unbelievable at first sight. But to the person who committed the crime, this was executed because of logical reasons. The concept of ‘why’ did the person do it may be difficult to understand since the causes of crimes are complex. The only way to know them exactly is through the perpetrator himself.

One thing we could do though, is to understand the underlying factors that may drive a person to commit a crime. Many people say it roots from psychological matters, but the truth is, it is not really based on psychological reasons alone. In these article, we will discuss the primary factors that drive people to commit crimes. Usually a combination of these factors are what makes a person commit a crime.


First on our list is the psychological factor. Human behavior varies from person to person and each has a certain psychological goal that needs to be met. What seems completely irrational from the outside like committing a crime may actually be an attempt to do something rational like fulfilling a psychological goal.

For instance, if a person felt inferior during his childhood, there might be a huge possibility that he will strive for superiority when he grows up. If that person fails to achieve his goal to become superior on certain matters, this could drive him to do dangerous things like criminal acts just to get what he wants.


Another driving factor is the emotional state of a person. Anger, hatred, revenge, jealousy, greed and fear are some of the most common emotions that drive a person to do a crime. These emotions may obscure a persons rational judgement and when combined with opportunity, this may lead to committing crimes. Allowing these strong emotions to take over ones actions may quickly lead them into becoming criminals.


Brain activity and heredity are also factors that need to be considered. People have already conducted researches about the role of neurochemicals and hormones that influence a person’s criminal behavior. Studies have shown that decreased levels of neurochemicals such as serotonin, which regulates mood and behavior, and increased levels of dopamine, which increases aggression, could make a person prone to aggression or committing crimes.

Hormones on the other hand, also have an influence on a person’s criminal behavior. Studies show that higher levels of testosterone – a hormone produced by male sexual organs, can have a strong influence on criminal behavior particularly sexual offenses. Cortisol, is another hormone that is linked to criminal behavior. Researchers found out that low levels of cortisol – a hormone that aids a person’s energy and alertness, are linked to antisocial behaviors including crime.


Peer influence, education and family relations are among the social factors that affect a person’s criminal behavior. A person’s peer group could have a strong influence on ones decision to commit a crime. The act of trying to ‘fit in’ and the choice of peers contributes a huge factor on the behavior of a person, especially teenagers.

Young people who couldn’t afford to go to school or the ones who do not fit into expected academic standards join ‘gangs’ who oftentimes conduct criminal activities for material gain, street credibility and respect. They often resort to fraud, extortion and theft as means of achieving them.

Also, people who grew up with abusive parents or any family members are much more likely to mistreat their own children, who will also probably follow the same pattern. Abused and neglected children are more likely to commit crimes than others.


One of the biggest driving factor of committing crime is money. Some people see crime as their only option to get by with their need to survive, while others are just driven by greed. Connected to this is the abuse of alcohol and drugs which both contribute to the vast majority of crimes committed in a way or another. People who are under the influence of these substances have impaired judgement and reduced inhibitions which give them more courage to commit a crime.

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