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Forensic Psychology – Biological Explanations for Offending

4. Haney et al. (1973)

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In this lecture, we think about the Haney et al. (1973) prison simulation study, focusing in particular on: (i) this study being more commonly known as the Zimbardo, or Stanford, Prison Experiment; (ii) the participant recruitment strategy as a vague post asking male volunteers to sign up; (iii) the role that the distinct guard and prisoner uniforms played in ensuring ecological validity of the study; (iv) the extreme emotional impacts on participants, resulting in both attrition and early termination of the experiment; (v) the strengths and weaknesses of the experiment.


In this course, Professor Ciarán O’Keeffe (Buckinghamshire New University) explores biological explanations for offending. In the first lecture, we think about the concept of ‘making a criminal’ and the transition from philosophical to scientific methodologies. In the second lecture, we think about biological strategies for preventing criminal behaviour, including nutritional interventions and facial surgery for criminals. In the third lecture, we think about the Raine et al. (1997) study, which identified brain areas linked to violence and aggression. Next, we think about the Haney et al. (1973) study, also known as the Stanford Prison Experiment, run by Philip Zimbardo. In the fifth lecture, we think about how brain injury can influence violence and aggression, as well as the ability for brain injury research to inform our understanding of this field. In the sixth and final lecture, we think about XYY syndrome and the mixed results research on it have found regarding its impact on violence, aggression and criminal behaviour.


Professor Ciarán O’Keeffe is associate professor of education and research and head of the School of Human and Social Sciences at Buckinghamshire New University. Professor O’Keeffe’s research interests include investigative psychology and parapsychology, and has made numerous television and radio appearances alongside an array of celebrities. Some of Professor O’Keeffe’s recent publications include 'Things That Go Bump In The Literature: An Environmental Appraisal of 'Haunted Houses'' (2020) and 'Restorative Justice and Recidivism: Investigating the impact of victim-preference for level of engagement' (2014).

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APA style

O'Keeffe, C. (2022, April 01). Forensic Psychology – Biological Explanations for Offending - Haney et al. (1973) [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

O'Keeffe, C. "Forensic Psychology – Biological Explanations for Offending – Haney et al. (1973)." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 01 Apr 2022,

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