196. Sex & Dating: Fetishes, Fantasy, and Spanking; Understanding What Turns You On

18 takeaways from this lecture: Continue reading “196. Sex & Dating: Fetishes, Fantasy, and Spanking; Understanding What Turns You On”

170. Sex & Dating: Love Sickness: The Problematic & Pathological Side of Love

14 takeaways from this lecture:

00:01:08 Lovesickness is the “informal physical and mental afflictions and negative feelings associated with rejection, unrequited love or the absence of a loved one.”

Symptoms of love relative to a mental illness can include:

  • Mania – an abnormally elevated mood, inflated self-esteem, and extravagant gift-giving
  • Depression – Tearfulness, insomnia, loss of appetite & inability to concentrate
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – Preoccupation, impulsively checking text/email messages, hygiene rituals, hoarding valueless but resonant items

Italian scientists have found that the presence of serotonin in the brain is similar for humans in love and humans suffering from OCD.

Frank Tallis theorizes our body’s reaction to love is to override our logical mind, causing humans to do what we normally wouldn’t do, or what goes against logic.

00:05:14 If being in love is painful, the loss of love and unreciprocated love is excruciating. Researchers have found that the degree of pain registered in the brain resulting from the loss of love and unreciprocated love is equal to being physically burned on your skin.

The same limbic system areas of the brain are activated whether a person is experiencing unreciprocated love or trying to overcome a drug addiction. Note: this was found on a group of people who identified as having lost love but ‘had not yet given up on fixing the relationship with their ex-lover.’

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Recall in the documentary How to Run A Business: Superbrand Secrets From The Fashion Industry that most of human behavior is driven by unconscious brain processes. The human brain evolved to make us better at surviving and breeding:

  • The limbic system is where humans feel emotions. This is why the acts of eating and having sex are so enjoyable.
  • The neocortex is the intellectual part of our brains and developed on top of our limbic system as we evolved. While your neocortex allows you to make sense of your decisions and explain them, it doesn’t change the fact that deep down your decisions, reasoning and preferences originate from your emotions.

Also, priming is “a process in which the processing of a target stimulus is aided or altered by the presentation of a previously presented stimulus.” When you see things that you have been primed to like, the pleasure centers in your limbic system responsible for reward, craving and addiction activate.

Connect one stimulus with another enough times, and your brain unconsciously connects the two.]

00:08:30 Studies show that social rejection has measurable consequences on the autonomic nervous system – the part of the body which “regulates bodily functions such as the heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, pupillary response, urination, and sexual arousal.”

A study was done where participants where told that an attractive potential mate had said s/he found the participant unattractive. The researches noticed the participant’s heart rate slowed down and took longer to return to normal. This reaction was greater if the rejection wasn’t anticipated: saving the fight for another day.

Your sympathetic nervous system is responsible for gathering resources for fight or flight and energy expenditure, whereas your parasympathetic nervous system is reserved for calming you down and gathering and preparing resources for future use.

00:10:28 The immense grief that comes with losing a partner has been shown to actually lead do premature death. “40% of men and 26% of women die within 3 years of their partner.”

00:12:20 Mending a broken heart:

  • Is in many ways similar to overcoming a drug addiction.
  • Don’t blame yourself or your ex because there are many reasons why relationships end.
  • Seek out social support rather than drive them away.
  • Distract yourself with hobbies & work projects that evoke old memories.
  • Avoid the photos, locations and objects that bring back associations related to your broken heart.
  • Stay healthy and in good shape.

00:14:26 There are two dimensions to attachment style which can actually help to predict how people will respond to a broken heart:

  1. Avoidant – feeling uncomfortable when people get too close to you
  2. Anxiety – feeling constantly afraid your partner will abandon you

[EDITOR’S NOTE: For more on why relationsihps end, watch Frank Conner’s lecture Sex & Dating: The Psychology of Love & Phases of The Breakup Process.

Also, recall from Frank Conner’s lecture that successful relations depend on your ability to form attachments. Babies are innately attracted, both physically and emotionally, to its care givers. Those attachments developed when you were very young stay with you throughout your life, and are broadly defined as either:

  • Secure – you feel good about other people and about yourself, and you trust yourself and other people in relationships.
  • Anxious/ambivalent – you feel good about other people, but not so much about yourself, worried that other people may hurt or leave you. As a result you tend to be clingy and ‘do everything you can’ to keep a person interested in you.
  • Avoidant – you don’t trust other people, and don’t really care whether or not you have a relationship.

While the baby’s early years are critical to which of these attachment strategies are formed, they are not absolute, and with effort can be re-oriented. Likewise, a series of really bad and disappointing relationships can cause you to begin questioning your values, which would also re-orient your attachment style.]

00:17:12 Pathological love is defined as an ‘uncontrollable, over-possessive caring for a partner that is recognized by the individual themselves as detrimental to other aspects of their lives.’ (Sophia et al (2009))

The personality profile of pathological lovers tend to be impulsive, reward-dependent, spiritual and with a low self-esteem, and have a more anxious attachment style (explained above).

00:19:18 Pet owners have been shown to be more attached to their pet than to their partner. In part, this is because:

  • Pets emit infant signals that arouse their owner’s parental instincts. Often pets may serve as child substitutes.
  • Pets don’t argue, complain and leave.
  • Pets reduce stress and can actually increase life longevity.

00:20:10 Jealousy is a normal protective human emotion (if kept in check) and serves to behave in a way that keeps your partner from leaving you. Men tend to be more jealous of being their partner’s only lover, while women more jealous of being their partner’s only emotional provider.

But jealousy can vary according to the above mentioned attachment styles:

  • Women tend to be more jealous of being their partner’s only emotional provider, and jealousy is increased when their competitor is attractive. Also, contraceptive pills high in synthetic oestrogens such as ethinyl oestradiol increase jealousy.
  • Men tend to be more jealous of being their partner’s only lover, and social dominance is priority, with physical height being a key element. Shorter men tend to experience more jealousy than their taller competitors, and men with low prenatal testosterone tend to be more jealous.

00:24:35 Stalking is defined as the ‘repeated, unwanted following or harrassment of another person.”

About 8% of women and 2% of men have been stalked. Reasons for stalking may vary from:

  • An ex-lover’s refusal to let the relationship end
  • An effort to start a relationship with a celebrity or someone ‘out of reach.’
  • Social incompetence – the person doesn’t understand that his or her ‘clumsy courtship’ is construed as stalking.
  • Revenge
  • Planning a sexual assault. Serial killers will sometimes stalk their victims.

Women have been known to qualify men and test their devotion by putting them through ‘tests.’ The man’s persistence can pay off, provided he correctly reads her cues.

00:28:47 Second to being stalked by a serial killer is being stalked by an ex-lover because:

  • Ex-lovers who stalk are usually ‘controlling,’ psychopaths with a history of abusive relationships, and so are likely to have stalked before.
  • Phrases such as “The relationship is over and I never want to see you again” are interpreted as provocation.
  • They can be extremely intrusive because as ex-lovers they intimitely know you and have some influence in your environment, i.e. your children, colleagues and neighbors, etc.
  • Their stalking can last years, resulting in an increase in anxiety, fear and depression; particularly when there are threats of violence.
  • There tends to be a 50% chance the ex will become violent.

00:30:36 Around 50% of murdered women are killed by an ‘intimate.’ Studies have shown that 2/3rds of the women murdered had been assaulted prior to the murder attempt. Those women who had been spied on were twice as likely to be victims of murder/attempted murder. Also, women with children had a 9x higher risk that their children may be harmed if the woman did not get back together with the ex.

00:32:26 De Clerambault’s Syndrome, or erotomania, is the ‘delusional belief that one is loved by another person.’ A common example of erotomania would be a middle-aged woman who believes that a high status male is secretly in love with her but he is prevented for one reason or another from declaring his love for her. “See, he is wearing my favorite color” is an example of the logic associated with erotomania. Extreme cases may result in the person harassing or even murdering their lover’s wife so that the man can now declare his love for her, or murdering the man out of anger of his ambiguous signals and mixed messages.

But not all erotomania is delusional, as it may begin with a fling or an affair followed by the person developing an obsession for the person.


00:38:23 Evolutionarily speaking, the various forms of lovesickness may be understood as evolutionary adaptations that have become exaggerated, or have gone wrong:

  • Obsessional love likely comes out of the mechanism for narrowing your mate choice. Lust is based on sexual desire, while obsession is narrowing your range of partners so you don’t waste your time chasing too many partners; this, according to Helen Fisher in her TED Talk ‘Why We Love and Cheat,” is what ‘being in love’ is all about.
  • Depression may be an advanced form of your parasympathetic nervous system (mentioned above) calming you down gathering and preparing resources to fight another day.
  • Extreme jealousy and stalking may be extremely clumsy courtship and mate retention tactics to the point where they are counter-productive.
  • Female erotomania may stem from a woman’s parental investment theory and evolutionary desire to acquire high-ranking, long-term mates who can protect and provide for them.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information on the biological and evolutionary implications of extreme jealousy and female erotomania, watch Robert Sapolsky’s lectures Intersexual Competition & Male/Female Hierarchies and Where Game Theory & Evolution Collide for Standford University.]

Males do tend to be more dangerous in whatever it is they’re doing.

137. Criminal Profiling: 20 Techniques To Be A Walking Lie Detector

19 important lessons from this video:

00:00:25 There are many instances where it’s important to decide whether or not a person is trying to deceive you: a policeman interviewing a suspect, a member of a jury trying to evaluate the guilt or innocence of person, a person deciding whether to become romancially involved with another person

When Neville Chamberlain first met Adolph Hitler in the late 1930s he was interested in knowing if Hitler had any ambitions of expanding his territory. After the meeting, Chamberlain incorrectly determined Hitler to be a man who could be trusted to keep his word. 

00:01:37 People admit to telling 2-3 lies per day. Most of those lies are little white lies and considered to be relatively harmless and used as an act of social etiquette; to spare someone’s feelings.

On the other end of the spectrum are high-stakes lies which affect the well-being of people, and can have a major impact on society, for example murder, terrorism, and high-level politics.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: If you’re interested, check out Wikipedia’s list of 32 different types of lies.]

00:04:20 To date, the best known lie detector is the polygraph test, which measures changes in your skin conductance, heart rate, breathing level, blood pressure and finger temperature to determine whether or not you are answering a question truthfully.

  • The act of undergoing a polygraph test is stressful as the person may be afraid of being found a liar despite telling the truth. Control questions, which the interview knows to be true act as control questions to limit incorrect readings.
  • Guilty knowledge refers to things an innocent person would pay no attention to, but guilty parties would react to. For example if only the murderer knows the weapon was hidden under the bathroom sink, then only he would react to this information, while innocent people, not knowing this information, wouldn’t react.

Although polygraphs have been successful in procuring confessions out of guilty parties, those confessions must be corroborated with facts and proof. Alas, the polygraph isn’t 100% reliable, and to date is not accepted as evidence in the court of law.

00:07:51 Hypnotics and psychedelics (for example LSD or oxytocin: a drug used in intimacy, sexual reproduction and social bonding) have been tried to extract confessions, however have been found to be unreliable because these techniques only make the person more suggestible and obliging, telling the tester what they want to hear rather than the truth, and/or the drugged person’s answers will likely not make much sense.

00:09:22 Untrained lie testers have been found to be able to spot liars by reading body language with an accuracty of roughly 53% of the time, which is only slightly better than a lucky guess. Trained experts have a slightly higher %, but formal training may also actually reduce reliability because the tester feels overconfident in his or her ability to detect liars.

Experienced liars have been found to be excellent lie detectors; a form of “it takes one to know one.”

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Recall in the mini-documentary Sex & Love: Interpreting Body Language & Non-Verbal Flirting Cues that everybody has that 6th sense, but some humans are masters of it while others have no idea it exists. You’d be amazed at what you can understand about other people by simply observing their actions.]

00:10:39 It takes more skill to lie than it does to detect liars. Effective liars:

  • Score high in Machiavellianism
  • Are able to monitor and control their verbal and non-verbal reactions
  • Tend to make good actors and actresses
  • Perhaps lack emotions such as guilt or anxiety which would give them away
  • May to some extent ‘believe’ their own lie
  • May employ a sort of self-hypnosis to render themselves comfortable with the lie, similar to the method acting approach where the actor connects with a character by drawing on personal emotions and memories to blend their emotions with the character to be played.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Recall in Professor Wilson’s lecture Criminal Profiling: 14 Theories of Causes & Deterrance of Criminality for Gresham College that psychopaths are more likely to charm their way out of prison by smiling at the parole board. Research has shown that psychopaths are twice as likely to get early release from prison than non-psychopathic inmates, despite being more dangerous after release.]

00:13:00 The contours of your face can cause people to more readily-label you a liar. “Soft, feminine features such as a smooth, warm complexion, large mouth and rounded jawline (baby-faced) are judged to be more trustworthy,” whereas “macho traits such as bushy, knitted brows, facial stubble, a wide nose and small mouth” are judged to be less trustworthy. 

Social psychology research shows that these stereotypes have been found to unfairly affect jury decisions and court sentences.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Recall in the lecture How To Start A Startup: Introducing Yourself So Investors Want to Invest that Professor Frank Bernieri of the Univeristy of Toledo found that in a job interview, the interviewer makes a snap judgment about potential job candidates within the first 15 seconds of a job interview, and that initial impression of you changes very little by the end of the interview. Those 15 seconds – your first impression – acted as an anchor and determined how the interviewer perceived you: your competence, level of intelligence, trustworthiness, etc. The remainder of your meeting acts to either confirm or deny the interviewer’s first impression of you.

Further, Dr. Alexander Todorov of Princeton University took Professor Bernieri’s first impression findings even further, finding that just 100 milli-seconds was enough to predict election votes by a margin of 68-72% accuracy. Meaning that simply ‘looking’ competent may be convincing enough to get the job done.]

00:15:16 Non-verbal gestures involving arms and hands are used by the speaker to reinforce what is being said. These gestures tend to suggest an emotional involvement on the part of the speaker, which is interpreted as sincerity. However, gestures which don’t match what is being said, or speakers who use a ‘less than average’ number of gestures suggest the person is over-controlling themself and are interpreted as deceptive.

Most of this research has been conducted on students and people in normal, safe situations where they are asked to tell a true story and a fake story. This research has not been compared to high-stakes, life-threatening situations where a person must lie to avoid severe consequences.

00:17:49 Microexpressions are
“brief, involuntary facial expression shown on the face of humans according to emotions experienced. They usually occur in high-stakes situations, where people have something to lose or gain. Microexpressions occur when a person is consciously trying to conceal all signs of how they are feeling, or when a person does not consciously know how they are feeling.”  In poker these microexpressions are referred to as ‘tells.’

The Facial Action Coding System (FACS) developed by Paul Ekman and made mainstream by the television series Lie to Me attempts to show the relation between muscle group movements in the face with the sincere emotion expressions to determine their level of authenticity (i.e. genuine smile versus a fake smile). This technique has been criticized because it lacks empirical validation, namely that all research has been conducted on known to be liars, while no thorough research has yet to look at the false-positives – the brief, involuntary facial expressions shon on the face of humans that in reality mean absolutely nothing whatsoever.

00:20:18 Emotional leakage is when a person’s genuine feelings & emotions are betrayed through facial expressions of the person attempting to conceal those genuine emotions. 

00:26:19 It’s commonly believed that liars avoid direct eye contact with you, however this eye contact belief can be over-ridden and the liar consciously looks you in the face as they lie to you. Also, many liars may look you in the face to judge whether or not you believe them, and then adapt their lie accordingly.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Recall in Ray Hyman’s lectures How To Convince People You Know Them Very, Very Intimately and Linguistic Tricks Con-Artists Use to Manipulate You that coldreaders use the entirety of your non-verbal cues as they tell you about your past, present and future.

Recall also in the mini-documentary Sex & Love: Interpreting Body Language & Non-Verbal Flirting Cues that men unconsciously read a woman’s body language to determine whether or not the woman has granted him permission to approach and talk to her.]

The pseudo-science Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a behavior-modification methodology to help people overcome problems and reach goals in life, and holds that there is a difference between recalling memories and fabricating stories, and that by looking at the person’s eyes movements, you can determine whether a person is remembering a true fact or lying.


(photo from here.)

Research on this has not been proven, and all empirical efforts to prove this have failed.

Computerised eye tracking uses technology to compare a person’s eye movements while they are searching for an answer to a question with their neutral base eye movements. This method claims an 82% accuracy in detection.

00:28:51 Stress signs such as blinking, blushing, sweating, touching your face and a dry mouth aren’t very reliable indicators of lying because these signals manifest themselves on many other occasions, for example in people who are about to stand in front of an audience and give a speech or the mere fact that you are being questionned by the police.

Sometimes, the absence of stress cues can serve as a strong indication that the person is overly-controlling themselves, which suggests lying.

A person who sucks their lips into their mouth usually means that the person is uncertain and contemplating something. A person who compresses their lips is usually associated with lying, attempting to refrain from blurting out the truth; it may also indicate that the person is attempting to refrain him or herself from saying something s/he shouldn’t, such as showing your true feelings about something or being reluctant to provide sensitive information to someone.

00:33:43 A voice stress analysis involves monitoring micro-tremors in the voice and a higher-than-usual pitch to detect lying. Although efficient at detecting stress and potentially coaxing confessions out of guilty parties, empirical research hasn’t been able to prove voice stress analysis to be a reliable source of lie detection, as the stress may be due to many other factors than lying.

00:35:22 Thermal imaging through infrared cameras, already used in airports to prevent passengers found to be carrying a contageous strand of disease from travelling) correctly identified liars (69% of the time) and truth tellers (64% of the time), however standard face-to-face interviews showed much greater accuracy, being able to correctly identify liars (72% of the time) and truth tellers (77% of the time). So although thermal imaging may not yet be a reliable method of lie detection, it can act as an effective automated way of identifying in large crowds, such as in at airport customs, which passengers should receive a second, more strenuous questioning.

00:38:11 We know that lies originate in the brain, specifically in the frontal and perhaps parietal lobes because lies require suppression of the truth as well as the invention of a new, plausable scenario, whereas telling the truth only requires recalling memories.


(photo taken from Wikipedia]

Claims as high as 90% accuracy have been found using this approach, however it is possible to cheat on this test with the same cheating technique used to beat a polygraph test: manipulate the accuracy of the neutral, baseline test questions by stimulating yourself, for example by thinking of something horrible – such as shooting your girlfriend through a bathroom door.

Most courtrooms do not accept any of the above lie detection procedures as a valid form of evidence… except for some cases in India.

00:42:31 Another common belief is that a person’s speech patterns will change when they are lying, such as increased repetition and emphasis made on certain points and excessive hesitations using ‘ummm’ and ‘errrrr.’

Liars tend to show longer pauses between questions and answers, perhaps to fabricate their lie, unless the liar has already rehearsed his or her answers in advance, in which case the gap between question and answer would diminish. Likewise, the speed at which the liar is talking may slow down, thus allowing the person more time to construct their lie. Lastly, the liar may speak less and provide fewer facts and details about the story, thus lowering the chances of being proven wrong when the information is cross-checked for accuracy. Globally, liars tend to come across as negative and uncooperative.

00:43:30 The choice of words used in the answers may be a greater indicator of culpability than the non-verbal methods discussed above.

Guilty parties tend to use:

  • Indirect denials of lying such as “I’m trying to tell you the truth” as well 
  • Indefinite words such as “maybe,” “perhaps,” and “I guess.” to avoid committing themselves to their lie.
  • Expanded contractions (”I did not”) rather than contractions (”I didn’t”)
  • Distancing expressions (”that woman” versus “Monica Lewinsky”)
  • Past tense (”My wife was amazing”) when the present tense would be correct (”My wife is amazing”) when talking a person who is believed missing but still alive.

00:46:30 Certain words appear more or less often in a liar’s testmony. Automated linguistic word counting analyses have proven to yield a 67% accuracy of guilt against 52% of human judges, and have noted that liars often:

  • Avoid ownership of the lie by refering to themselves as little as possible; avoid saying “I” and “me.”
  • Express more negative emotions such as hate, being sad or feeling worthless implies self-loathing
  • Use fewer words such as “except,” “but,” and “nor” which would indicate what the liar did or did not do.

These linguistic analysis softwares have also been used to great effect in identifying the truthfulness of online dating profiles and customer reviews.

00:48:33 The Criteria-Based Content Analysis operate under the assumption that true stories contain certain criteria, and that you can assess the reality of a person’s narrative by considering the accuracy of the elements of the story such as:

  • The amount of detail in the narrative
  • The amount of unusual and superfluous details
  • The accuracy in which the details fit into the timeline and location
  • The amount of verbatim conversation
  • The amount of subjective feelings included
  • The amount of self-depreciation
  • The amount of memory lapses and spontaneous corrections to the narrative

This form of analysis may be manipulated through coaching.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: In his book Redirect: Changing The Stories We Live By, Timothy D. Wilson explains how story manipulation can be used to great effect in helping make people’s lives better, such as with solders who suffer from PostTramautic Stress Disorder (PTSD).]

00:50:22 Skilled interrogators prepare and ask questions designed to increase the cognitive load of the liar, thus increasing the chances of procuring a confession; techniques such as:

  • Asking the person to re-order the events of their story
  • Asking unexpected questions to confuse and throw off balance a liar with a well-prepared story
  • Requesting sketches and explanations of people and locations which can then be verified for accuracy
  • Asking the person to tell the story from a different perspective, such as from the security camera in the corner of the room
  • Strategically using available evidence to increase the pressure, such as withholding facts until in the interview when they can be used to disprove the person’s story

129. Criminal Profiling: Introduction & Methodology of Profiling Serial Killers

13 important lessons from this lecture:

00:01:20 Criminal profiling tends to operate on cold logic and experience collated from research findings from over the years; it’s neither mystical, magical, nor psychic.

00:01:41 Jack the Ripper is the most famous serial killer of all time mainly because his murders occurred at the beginning of tabloid journalism and because the killer was never caught.

The police surgeon who handled Jack the Ripper’s victim’s bodies extrapolated that the way the organs had been so expertly removed from the body suggested the killer would likely be a surgeon, a butcher, or a mortuary worker. This is an example of how criminal profiling works.

00:03:58 Typical serial killers:

  1. Have killed 3 or more people with a break in between each killing. This is different from a spree killer – which is a person who kills multiple people in a short time in one or multiple locations.
  2. Are usually males between 20-40 years old who have had a history of unstable relationships and employment in positions which typicaly offer no career advancement such as security guard, club bouncer, driver, etc.).
  3. Would likely be described by their neighbors and colleagues as ‘ordinary.’
  4. Change living addresses rather frequently, perhaps as a way if distancing themselves from their crimes.
  5. Are quite often solitary ‘loners,’ however not always.
  6. Are typically psychopaths – irresponsable, cruel, self-serving and skilled liars who lack empathy for their victims.
  7. Often have a history of minor crimes such as assault, trespass and burglary.
  8. Tend to be quite intelligent and charming, however this may be distorted due to the dramatization made by the media in selecting which murderers they cover, and that the less intelligent serial killers make mistakes which result in their getting caught early in their serial killer career before they’ve reached their 3rd victim.
  9. Although extremely rare as a breed, they are fairly evenly distributed among ethnic race.  They tend, however, to be mostly viewed as being caucasian. This may perhaps be again due to media dramatization and interview selection.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information on a psychopaths, watch the lecture 14 theories of Causes & Deterrance of Criminality also by Professor Glenn D Wilson at Gresham College.]

00:07:23 Common motives of serial killers:

  1. Are frequently sexual and sadistic, and may include revenge, lacking a feeling of power or self-esteem, and the killing empowers the person.
  2. Tend to target strangers, and of a particular category of people such as prostitutes.
  3. Tend to have an intimate, hands-on approach using knives, strangulation, their fists, etc. compared to common killers who use guns and explosives.
  4. Tend to overkill – do things beyond what is necessary to kill the victim, which suggests a sort of pleasure in the act.
  5. Some take trophies from the victims as a sort of souvenir to help them to relive the crime.
  6. Tend to be thrill-seekers who take pride in their ability to capture media attention and evade capture by dancing with the police, and might enjoy reading about themselves in the newspapper.
  7. Tend to be mission-oriented – performing the killings in order to “rid the world of a certain type of person.”

00:09:33 Modus Operandi (MO) is “the term is used to describe someone’s habits of working, particularly in the context of business or criminal investigations;” the type of weapon used, how the killer entered the premises and gained access to the victim, etc. MO varies according to the circumstances.

The killer’s signature, however, is unique and stable, revealing psychological needs (e.g., ritual aspects of crime, nicknames, the type of trophy taken, posing the corpse, inserting objects into the corpse, leaving notes…) Signatures are more useful in linking murders and tracking the person responsible for the killings than MOs.

00:13:41 The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) categorizes serial killers into two major types: organized and disorganized.

Organized serial killers tend to:

  • Have an above average IQ
  • Plan their crimes meticulously, and abduct, kill, and dispose in different locations
  • Operate more in the daytime
  • Become personal with their victims, engaging with them in conversation to get them to let down their guard and lure them
  • Meticulously control the scene of the crime so as to leave as few unintentional clues as possible
  • Have working knowledge of forensics to understand what techniques and technology the police use to catch killers
  • Maintain socially normal lives and blend into society – have friends, lovers, wives and children
  • Enjoy following their exploits in the media

Disorganized serial killers tend to be the exact opposite:

  • Have a below average IQ
  • Act impulsively, using whatever weapon they have at their immediate disposal
  • Make little to no attempt to hide the body and the crime scene is chaotic, which is usually how they are caught
  • Socially don’t blend into society, often live alone and often living near the location of their crimes
  • May have a history of mental illness
  • Operate more during the night time
  • De-personalize their victim, not recognizing their victim as a fellow human being
  • Aren’t interested in following their exploits in the media

00:16:00 In 1998, Holmes & Holmes proposed five subtypes of serial killer profiles:

  1. Vision-oriented – Killer claims to receive messages from God or the Devil, and their killings are seen as “job to be done.”
  2. Mission-oriented – Killer feels compelled to rid the world of some undesirable group of people. Often they mask their enjoyment of killing with their mission to “make the world a better place.”
  3. Lust-oriented – While sexually-based, fantasy driven killers may also enjoy necrophilia, mutilation, and cannibalism
  4. Thrill-seeking oriented – Enjoy the adreniline rush of the hunt & kill. These killers lose interest in the victim once after they have died.
  5. Power/control-oriented – Seek total domination over the victim (perhaps because they lack self-esteem or power in their current station in life) and prefer to extend the killing process over a long period of time.

There is a great deal of overlap among the above five subtypes, and there isn’t any empirical research suggesting that these are the only subtypes.

00:18:37 David Canter, one of Britain’s top criminal profilers, created a statistical procedure called the Radex Model of Killer’s Actions which shows the correlation between the acts of violence and their motives categorized into four motives:

(Above photo screenshot taken from The Organized/Disorganized Typology of Serial Murder: Myth or Model? by David V. Canter, Laurence J. Alison, Emily Alison, and Natalia Wentink from the University of Liverpool.)

00:26:44 While most serial killers are male, there are also female killers. Most female serial killers tend to:

  • Use poison, which can make it difficult to spot
  • Kill people close to them – relatives, husband, friends, children
  • Kill for profit – inheritance or insurance, or
  • Kill out of a sense of ‘mercy’ – to alleviate the pain and torment of people in their care, perhaps elderly, who are suffering, or
  • Kill out of lust (folie a deux) – this is typically done with a male partner

00:28:54 In 1854, after an outbreak of cholera in Soho, London, Dr John Snow triangulated all the areas of outbreak and traced its source to the water pump on Broadwick Street.

Geographic profiling (Geo-profiling) works much the same way. It is “a criminal investigative methodology that analyzes the locations of a connected series of crimes to determine the most probable area of offender residence… to understand spatial behavior of an offender and focusing the investigation to a smaller area of the community.”

[EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information on geo-profiling, watch the lecture 14 theories of Causes & Deterrance of Criminality also by Professor Glenn D Wilson at Gresham College.]

00:33:26 Some criminals seem to create psychological barriers between their home base and their operating area – where they commit their crimes, with a buffer zone in between. Further, these psychological barriers tend to lead to three types of criminals:

  1. Marauders tend to operate in a confined area near their home base, within a comfort zone where they are most aware of the environment.
  2. Commuters tend to be more mobile, operating over greater distances and in locations far away from their home base
  3. Marauder/Commuters who may operate in terms of phases or patterns

Geo-profiling also helps with identifying the criminal’s transportation methods – how the criminal gets to and from his operating areas, and body disposal sites – locations where serial killers leave their victims.

00:43:51 While psychological profiling may help narrow the field of potential suspects, a psychological profile does not constitute evidence in the court of law, and there have been miscarriages of justice where police targeted, accused, and built entire cases around potential suspects simply because they “fitted the preconceived profile of a likely killer.” There could very well be thousands of potential suspects fitting the psychological profile of a particular criminal profile.

00:49:04 Contrary to the premise of the movie Minority Report’s pre-crime unit, psychological profiling cannot identify criminals before they commit a crime.

121. Criminal Profiling: 14 Theories of Causes & Deterrence of Criminality

22 important lessons from this lecture:

00:00:58 Many people argue that you cannot have a science of criminology because nobody can agree with what exactly defines ‘crime.’

Therefore we must begin by distinguishing crime from vice.  “Crime is distingued from vice. Activities aimed at satisfying personal desires, without malice, are not consistently outlawed. Prostitution, pornography, drug-taking, gambling, abortion & euthanasia may be immoral and degrading but are only indictable in some times/places.

Murder, burglary, assault, robbery & rape involve intent to harm and are crimes in virtually all societies.

Anti-vice laws (such as prohibition in the United States from 1920-33 was a ‘failed experiment’ resulting in massive corruption and the rise of gangsters like Al Capone) are often counter-productive, ‘the cure being worse than the disease.’

Decriminalisation of homosexuality, pornography, adultery, prostituion & abortion in many countries did not result in the social chaos some feared.”

00:04:48 Many risk factors have been identified for delinquency and crime:


But correlation does not simply imply causation. Parental separation, conflict and maltreatment may be causes of delinquency and crime, but this could equally reflect a genetic transmission of antisocial traits – manifested in feckless or violent behavior.

Further, there is a popular believe that crime is the result of poverty or deprivation, but there is remarkably little support for this; no clear connection between the two. For example, during the London riots of 2011, looters targeted luxury goods such as electronics and designer trainers rather than necessities. This suggests that envy, entitlement and excitment played a larger, more explanatory role in the looting than poverty and deprivation.

Finally, relative poverty problems such as poverty, deprevation, unemployment, drugs and other social problems often congregrate within the same neighborhoods, which give you the illusion that one is causing the other, but it would be simple-minded to think that was the case.

1. Unemployment as a cause of crime

00:09:42 While petty criminals are more likely to be out of work than non-criminals, evidence showing that changes in employment levels leads to an increase in crime rates is lacking.

For example, during Hugo Chavez’s rule in Venezuela from 1999-2013, unemployment halved while murder rate tripled.

2. Perceived unfairness & inequality as a cause of crime

00:11:22 Across nations, this research has been inconclusive.

However, wage discrepancies in the US have increased in recent decades, thus arguably causing an obvious awareness of inequality between the poorer and richer people as they ‘rub shoulders.’ Ethnic mixes and income differentials within local neighborhoods, also in the US, do seem to increase property-crime rates.

00:13:01 In a study involving 700 youth-at-risk in 2012, the Cambridge Institute of Criminology found that just 4% of the 700 youth:

  • Were responsible for over 50% of all offending crimes (a total of 278 crimes by the time they had reached the age of 16)
  • Commited multiple offenses, including burglary, theft, violence and vandalism
  • Admitted to having no conscience or self-control; that they were inherently impulsive

but the majority of those 700 youth admitted to having plenty of opportunities to commit crime, however saw it as ‘morally wrong.’

00:15:24 Hans Eysenck theorised that criminology was associated with poor fear conditioning as a child, which lead to a weak conscience. Another study involving 1,795 Mauritian children in 2009 (Gao et al) revealed that the criminal group in the study showed a failure of fear conditioning.

The authors of this study implicated amygdala (the fear center in the brain) and prefrontal (where conscience and self-control tends to be located)  dysfunction in those children who grew up to become criminals.

3. A lack of a male role-model as a cause of crime

00:17:29 While you cannot control a child’s environment: choosing one child to be born with a positive male role-model, whilst choosing another child not to be born with one, scientists can do this with mice.

A study in 2013 (Bambico et al) deprived female mice from a certain race of California mice of their fatherly unit. Those deprived mice showed social deficits and increased aggression as well as structure changes in the medial prefrontal cortex of the brain. This study was consistent with human studies revealing that father-deprived daughters are more susceptible to drug abuse.

4. Watching too much television as a cause of crime

00:19:04 A 2014 study (Robettson et al) in Australia showed a positive correlation between the amount of time viewing television between the ages of 5-15 and anti-social behavior, aggression and crime. This was true for both males and females after controlling for IQ & social class. It is this control which would have been one of the most likely criticisms in the unbiased integrity of this study; meaning that the positive correlation could have been attributed to increased anti-social predisposition due to their particular IQ or social class, thus causing those children to disobey parental instructions.

5. Lead poisoning as a cause of crime

00:20:52 Lead poisoning in paints and other objects has demonstrated an impairment of IQ and increasing the likelihood of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). While studies have shown that crime has falling since lead was removed from petrol and paint, this fall in crime could also correlate to many other factors such as the aging population, tougher policing, and increased incarceration.

6. The brokens window theory showing the decline in crime noting that crime will flourish if it is made easier to do

00:24:09 While opportunity is a major factor in crime and theft, modern technology has made it more difficult. For example, car theft has plunged as more and more sophisicated alarms, immobilisers, trackers and automatic number plate recognition has increased the chances of getting caught. (Farrell, 2013)

Further, burglar alarms, DNA analysis and CCT surveillance acts as a major deterrent as it increases the likelihood of getting caught, however:

  • Devices such as CCTV has also, not ironically, caused criminals to wear more hoodies, hats, gloves, sunglasses, and other deflective clothing to prevent identification, and
  • Signs and burglar arms in one location effectively relocate that crime to nearby neighborhoods and locations (Nettle et al, 2012).

The fact that people feel that they are being watched unconsciously makes them be on better behavior.

In addition, many of those technological devices such as computers and telephones that once were prime targets for theft have become so cheap that they are no longer worth stealing.

This, however, has merely shifted opportunistic crime to other, less risky forms  such as credit card fraud and web scams that prey on the abundance of a technologically naive, greedy and gullible population.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: For more on the importance of relying on the scientific method when testing hypothesis, such as the above ‘causes of crime,’ watch the lecture by Kark Popper on the limits of intelligence testing and if (A) then ©.]

00:28:50 Pre-crime forecasting, or predictive policing, involve computer modelling of crime patterns to anticipate current and future crime locations.

The successful burglary of one house effectively increases the likelihood of the neighboring houses also being burglarized, revealing that criminals tend to act as wild animals looking for food, returning to previously attacked sites until they have been exhausted.

7. Zero Tolerance as a fight against crime

00:31:00 Zero-tolerance methods involve cracking down on minor street crimes such as vandalism, graffiti, spitting on the pavement, etc. while simultaneously repairing vandalized places and fixing the broken windows.

While this technique worked spectacularly

in NY between 1994-2001, which was attributed to NY’s governor Mayor Giuliani, a similar drop in crime was noticed in many other cities across the United States who weren’t implementing the zero tolerance crackdown. The NY chief of police involved in the zero tolerance went on afterwards to implement the same crackdown in Liverpool, where crime subsequently dropped as well.

The argument for zero tolerance is that a “reputation for toughness is important within gangs – members often commit crimes for status-enhancement. Making it ‘tough’ to get away with minor offenses reduces the need to commit major crimes (Dur & Van der Wele, 2013).”

8. Genetics as a cause of crime

00:34:19 To some extent, career criminals do come down to genetics. This is from a study involving twins, where its been shown in the United States that 5% of families account for nearly half of the arrests – partly due to genes and partly mating patterns (Beaver, 2013).

Adoption studies have found that criminal behavior in an adopted child relates more strongly to the child’s biological father than the child’s foster father (Mednick et al, 1984). But the living environment does also have an effect on the child, especially if the living environment mimics that of the biological father’s criminal tendencies.

00:37:13 In the brain, dopamine genes (DAT1, DRD2, DRD4) are neuro-transmitter genes which are associated with the approach/reward system: the ‘I want that and I’m going to get it; to hell with the consequences.’ Ironically, these dopamine genes which lead to violent behavior also seem to accumulate in poor neighborhoods, meaning that the cause>effect may be going both ways: If you have the  violent genes you are an irresponsible person who tends to drift into the poor neighborhood, which only increases the tendency for crime to congregate.

9. Personality traits as an indicator of crime

00:38:31 Thrill-seekers, aggressiveness, impulsiveness and negative emotionality tend to go with criminality; also low agreeableness and conscientiousness (Reid, 2011). While this “applies to both men and women, it tends to be more pronounced in men, hence male preponderance of crime.”

Also, “different types of crime are no doubt associated with different personality profiles; Fraud tends to go with arrogance, psychopathy and higher IQ than burglary.”

10. ADHD as an indicator of criminality

00:40:23 Studies have shown that ADHD is much higher in criminals; 30-40% of criminals might be described as having, or having had, ADHD.

Arguments against ADHD as an indicator of criminality are that those suffering from ADHD who have undergone treatment of it are somehow different from those people who do not seek out and undergo treatment.

11. Psychopathy as an indicator of criminality

00:43:97 15-20% of criminals are said to be psychopaths, but not all psychopaths are criminals; there are a high rate of psychopaths posing as business executives, bankers, bomb disposal and similar occupations. “Psychopathy is connected with over-activity in dopamine reward system and under-functioning of prefrontal brain areas concerned with moral restraint and pro-social emotions like guilt and embarrassment (Gregory et al, 2012).

 12. Facial recognition as an indicator of criminality

00:46:01 To some degree, studies have shown that when shown a line-up of criminals and non-criminals, the average person can identify with a greater than 50% chance those in the lineup who are criminals. “Criminals can be distinguised beyond chance (which is by no means perfect) from non-criminals through headshots alone.” However, it was not possible to distinguish which kind of crimes the criminals had committed, perhaps indicating that criminals don’t specialize in just one sort of crime.

With one exception, women were unable to identify the rapist in the lineup of men, and even identified the rapist as a non-criminal.

13. Adaptability of criminality

00:49:16 “Psychopathy may not be ‘dysfunctional’ but an evolved life strategy with genetic benefits that outweigh the disadvantages.

Psychopaths, and criminals in general, are often attractive to women.” A study in 1995 found that criminals “have higher fecundity (averaging nearly 4 children each vs 2.21 for non-criminal controls from same social classes/urban residence.)”

14. Is crime compulsive?

00:52:01 “Armed robber Trevor Hayes was serving an indefinite term in prison when a brain tumour was discovered in his frontal lobe that might have caused his aggressiveness. Defence lawyers argued that following surgery he was no longer dangerous. Judge in London’s Appeal Court reduced his sentence to 11 years, saying that Hayes still ‘knew what he was doing was wrong.’”

“In Italy, a murderer had his sentence reduced because he carried 5 genes associated with violence (Feresin, 2009). This was illogical because this defendent would be just as dangerous after release.”

[EDITOR’S NOTE: In his lecture Human Behavioral Biology: The Dangers of Categorical Thinking, Robert Sapolsky asks:

“What do having your period, having a brain tumor, eating a lot of junk food, and taking anabolic steroids have in common? They all have been successfully used in the courts of law to explain the behavior of a murderer.


  1. Sometimes, the stuff that is going on in your body can dramatically affect what is going on in your brain.
  2. Sometimes, the stuff that is going on in your head can dramatically affect what’s going on in your body.]

00:53:32 Neurocriminology is the science of looking at the brain’s basis of violence. In his book The Anatomy of Violence, author Adrian Raine says “murders may be identified by brain scans showing underactivity in the prefrontal cortex. This implies poor control of limbic regions that generate anger and violence.

Psychopaths often have a small amygdala and an exceptionally low heart rate.

Epigenetics are also important and environmental factors like child neglect & abuse, poor nutrition, prenatal smoking & drinking contribute to development of criminal brains.”

So what exactly is prison for?

  • For punishment? Prison is a pretty bleak, wasteul method of punishing somebody.
  • As a deterrent? Criminals don’t seem to fear prison very much and it may actually be a school for crime, coming out of prison a better trained criminal and with a larger network of criminals established while within.
  • As rehabilitation? Prison does more in stigmatize and break family ties than it uplift and/or retrain the criminals. While within inmates must deal with drugs, unprotected sex and a suicide rate 10x higher than the outside community.
  • As retribution? This argument is a bit immature because it is based on outcome rather than the intent of behavior. For example, a man fell asleep behind the wheel of is truck, resulting in the death of nearly 10 people. This man was sentenced to 5 years in prison not because of his criminal intent, but because of the outcome; the consequence of his falling asleep behind the wheel. Had he fallen asleep and ran into a tree, he wouldn’t have found himself in such a terrible position.
  • As containment? This is perhaps the best, most currently logical use for prison – keeping criminals confined instead of letting them free to commit crime and plot acts of terrorism – as protection for the public.

Is rehabilitation possible for criminals?

01:01:36 In some cases, for example with psychopaths, rehabilitation is simply not possible, and yet they are the ones most likely to charm their ways out of prison by smiling at the parole board (Porter et al, 2009). Research has shown that psychopaths get early release from prison more often than non-psychopathic inmates.