Forensic Psychology

Specific Forms of Crimes

How do white-collar criminals differ from other forms of criminals?

Most white-collar crimes take a higher level of planning, cognitive sophistication, and occupational success than other crimes. Accountants, bookkeepers, or investment bankers who siphon off tens of thousands of dollars tend to do so over a period of months or years, all the while hiding their behavior from their colleagues. Moreover, their ability to attain a position of responsibility in the first place generally speaks to better impulse control, planning, and ability to delay gratification than is found in the typically impulsive criminal. Likewise, white-collar criminals tend to be more educated and come from a higher SES background than other criminals. We can also speculate that many white-collar criminals have a high degree of narcissistic traits and find the allure of the money and the status that it can bring overwhelming. An inflated sense of entitlement dampens their guilt at stealing from other people. Consequently, they fail to inhibit their illegal behavior. However, some white-collar criminals may also have antisocial or psychopathic traits, but are simply less impulsive than other types of criminals.


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