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ISSN 2227-6017 (ONLINE), ISSN 2303-9868 (PRINT), DOI: 10.18454/IRJ.2227-6017
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Nguyen Thi Nhung et al. "FACTORS, DETERMINING CRIMINAL ACT: UNCONSCIOUS MOTIVES OF THE CRIMINAL ACT". Meždunarodnyj naučno-issledovatel’skij žurnal (International Research Journal) № 6 (84) Part 2, (2019): 112. Thu. 27. Jun. 2019.
Nguyen Thi. Nhung. FACTORS, DETERMINING CRIMINAL ACT: UNCONSCIOUS MOTIVES OF THE CRIMINAL ACT / Thi. Nhung. Nguyen, Ha. Trang. Trinh // Mezhdunarodnyj nauchno-issledovatel'skij zhurnal. — 2019. — № 6 (84) Part 2. — С. 112—116. doi: 10.23670/IRJ.2019.84.6.052




Научная статья

Нгуен Тхи Ньюнг1,  *, Чинь Ха Чанг2

1, 2 Академия народной полиции Вьетнама, Ханой, Вьетнам

* Корреспондирующий автор (Nhungsonglovp[at]


В статье рассматриваются подходы к выделению ведущего фактора преступного поведения. На основе теоретического анализа выделены бессознательные факторы преступного поведения, к числу которых можно отнести установки, мотивы, границы допустимости, и т.д., а также влияющие на них факторы семейного контекста. Рассмотрено место бессознательных факторов в структурно-динамической концепции девиантного поведения. Указывается значимость учета бессознательных факторов преступного поведения при организации мероприятий по социально-психологической реабилитации преступников-рецидивистов.

Ключевые слова: делинквентность, мотив, преступное поведение, криминальное поведение, бессознательное. 


Research article

Nguyen Thi Nhung1, *, Trinh Ha Trang2

1, 2 Vietnam People’s Police Academy, Ha Noi, Viet Nam

* Corresponding author (Nhungsonglovp[at]


The article discusses approaches to select the leading factor in a criminal act. Based on theoretical analysis, the unconscious factors of criminal behavior are determined, among which are attitudes, motives, limits of admissibility, etc., as well as family factors. The place of unconscious factors in the structural-dynamic concept of deviant behavior is considered. The significance of taking into account the unconscious factors of a criminal act is indicated when organizing events for the social and psychological rehabilitation of repeat offenders.

Keywords: delinquency, motive, criminal act, criminal act, unconscious.


The problem of studying the factors of a criminal act is complex, requiring an interdisciplinary approach and a systemic consideration. Despite the existence of various approaches to determining the factors of a criminal act and theoretical concepts seeking to streamline them, the question of the place and role of unconscious motives for a criminal act remains insufficiently studied, due to the multiplicity of theories, insufficiently developed methodological basis for empirical studies of this issue and the considerable complexity of the subject  of study.

In Vietnam, numerous studies are devoted to this issue: research work of the team of authors Pham Hong Hai, Dao Chi Uc, Vo Khanh Vinh, Nguyen Manh Khang, on the crime research methodology published in the Vietnamese Social Science Center (1999); work of Pham Tuan Binh on hidden crimes in Vietnam, reasons and solutions for detection (1999); Book “Organized Crime – History and Problems” of Ho Trong Ngu (2000. The theoretical analysis of literary sources and the results of research in criminology, legal psychology and social psychology suggests that a criminal act is associated with two main groups of factors: situational and personal.

Depending on which of these groups of factors is understood as leading, two main approaches are distinguished – biological and sociological. An approach that places situational factors as the dominant determinant of a criminal act eliminates the influence of the personality, and as a result contributes to the development of the notion of the lack of responsibility of the individual for his own behavior. While absolutization of the personality factor leads to the anthropological concept of a criminal personality, to the assertion of the existence of a criminal type of person. Modern science has shown that the extreme expressions of these approaches are untenable and cannot serve as an explanation for the criminal act of a person.

Studying the personality of a criminal as an accumulator of the influence of the social environment makes it possible to approach criminological significant social phenomena and processes, naturally associated with criminal behavior, crime, helps to identify the nature of the relevant links [5] (as in figure 1). In this case, as A.A. Rean believed, for a criminal act, situational factors play the role of modulators of the act, but not its main determinants [10].


27-06-2019 13-28-41

Fig. 1 – Factors of a criminal act


In most cases, behind any act there is a distorted moral and psychological picture of the world, distorted by public attitudes. Of course, modern psychology knows that there is no absolute dependence between the attitudes of the personality and its behavior.[10] In particular, in cases where the situation puts a lot of pressure on the individual, the existing attitudes may not work. In this context, one should be guided by the principle of aggregation, which states that the effect of the attitudes on behavior becomes more clear and obvious when we consider the person and the behavior as a whole, and not any individual act [9], [11].

Attitudes, as the unconscious factor of a criminal act, play a leading role only in the case of spontaneous behavior of an individual. Analyzing and identifying premeditated crime factors is much more difficult. The theory of a planned act states that planned, deliberate behavior more accurately and best determines not one, but three factors presented in Table 1 – the attitude of the individual to a specific behavior, to subjective norms, to the possibilities of control actions [13], [14].


Table 1 – Factor of intentional act

Factor of intentional act Content of factor
The attitude of the individual to a specific behavior The concrete attitudes – the concrete attitude of the person to the act of which he is thinking.
The attitude of the individual to subjective norms Subjective standards – awareness of the importance of people or reference groups that will respond to planned actions
The attitude of the individual to the possibilities of control actions Man’s perceptions of the possibility with which he can perform some act. If it seems to a person that it is difficult to commit an act, then the intention to commit such an act is seriously weakened; if a person believes that a certain act is easy to do, then there is a strong desire to do so [2].


For example, the adolescent’s idea of a negative attitude of the family, parents close to the act, prompted by negative attitudes, reduces the likelihood of its implementation. On the other hand, the matter is complicated by the fact that these attitudes do not arise by themselves, but are formed in the family itself, in the process of family socialization, according to the mechanism of learning and imitation [10]. This applies to families with an indifferent style of raising children, it is precisely the lack of supervision, according to the results of the research, that is significantly correlated with delinquency and aggression. [3], [6]. Several studies have linked the negative “Parent-Child” system of relationships associated with a lack of emotional intimacy and support with the subsequent socially deviant behavior of the child. In particular, the study of A. A. Rean and M.Yu. Sannikova points out that reducing a positive attitude towards the mother, an increase in negative characteristics in the mother’s description correlates with the general increase in negativity of all social relations of the individual [10].

There are a number of theories attempting to explain deviant and delinquent behavior, in particular, the structural-dynamic concept of deviant behavior [7]. In this concept, deviant behavior is classified based on the three significant criteria listed in table 2.


Table 2 – Multi-axis interdisciplinary classification of types of deviant action

Classification criteria  27-06-2019 13-39-52 Groups of deviant action
type of violated social norm external destructive (antisocial) behavior contrary to moral and legal norms, threatening social order and the well-being of surrounding people;
deviation direction indirect destructive (asocial) behavior deviating from moral norms, reducing the quality of interpersonal relations;
nature and level of destruction (of caused damage) autodestructive (dissocial) behavior, deviating from medical and psychological norms, threatening the integrity and development of the individual


In addition, deviance is considered at three levels of analysis, allowing to study this phenomenon systematically and multidimensionally [7]:

1) genesis (development in the individual, family and social context, procedural and time limit);

2) structural-level organization (organization, subsystems and properties);

3) dynamic content characteristics (values, attitudes, negative affects and feelings, personal meanings, motives, individual psychological features of the act).

Unconscious factors of the deviant and delinquent actions of the personality are often considered at the third stage of analysis. Бессознательные факторы девиантного и делинквентного деяния личности зачастую рассматриваются на третьей ступени анализа, However, taking into account research data on the influence of parenting style on the formation of attitudes, attention should be paid to the levels of genesis and the structural-level organization of deviant action.

Criminology has long been established that from any situation there cannot be the only way out in the form of criminal actions. But if the subject has chosen, even unconsciously, then, his personality has features that determine this preference [1].

For example, a study of convicted women revealed a discrepancy in the admissibility of lies and patterns of the act being approved, in this case – in the community and the prison community [12]. Such “admissibility” has in its structure both an objective and a subjective side, the latter is closely connected with the unconscious.

As Y.M. Antonyan notes, there are many definitions of the unconscious in the psyche, by which it is advisable to understand the unrecognized impressions of childhood and early youth (for reasons of trauma, pain, and uselessness), instincts and automatisms [1].

Unconscious mechanisms of deliberate actions of a criminal nature can be associated with unconscious automatisms (as, for example, with a painful inclination to theft with repeated episodes of compulsive actions – kleptomania), unconscious installations (in particular, the negativistic attitudes mentioned earlier, readiness to commit unlawful actions) and unconscious accompaniments of conscious actions (this is especially significant when detecting lies during interrogation or as part of investigative experiments).

In addition, unconsciousness contains feelings, feelings and desires, suppressed by consciousness, but manifests in behavior, preventing further recovery of offenders. A special place in the study of a criminal act is the notion of “motive”. Without dwelling in detail on the definition of the term, we clarify that these mechanisms activate the ideas that implement them in action. Motives for a criminal act have an unconscious side. It is possible to single out the motives of protection against real and imaginary dangers, the motives of assertion and self-affirmation, the game motives, the motives for overcoming anxiety and fears. Unconscious is actively involved in the genesis of these motives. A person who is distinguished by a low level of consciousness may have a criminal situation that causes a saturated unconscious experience (which is realized in the impulsive behavior of a criminal nature). In addition, the unconscious can distort or modify the consciousness, masking motives and attitudes that are morally unacceptable for a person by those motives, that are more positively assessed by the person or appear more acceptable in the context of individual admissibility.

The problem of these unconscious factors of a criminal act (attitudes, motives, limits of admissibility, deformation of consciousness (in particular, sense of justice)), influences of family context (emotional relationship with parents, family scenario, parenting model) and complex situational and transsituative factors is of particular importance for criminology and penitentiary psychology, because unconscious motives and impulses that form the characters and behavior of perpetrators of crimes lying in the deep layers of the psyche are not analyzed, and measures aimed at countering collective unconscious processes in the crime system are not developed or planned [8].


When considering the issue of a criminal act, it is impossible to have a deep understanding of the psyche of the criminal and to build an adequate and effective educational work on their socio-psychological rehabilitation, taking into account the psychological characteristics of the person, without including the study of unconscious factors. Such an approach will theoretically reduce the number of repeat offenders, correcting not only their behavior, but also negative lifestyle stereotypes fixed in their psyche at the level of the unconscious, motives and attitudes towards illegal behavior, as well as limits of admissibility. 

Конфликт интересов

Не указан.

Conflict of Interest

None declared.

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