Published online by Cambridge University Press: 02 December 2021
This chapter seeks to provide an overview of several major categories of psychological theories that have been developed and studied over the years to explain violent behaviour. For the purposes of the chapter, we have adopted Christopher Webster et al al’s (1997) conception definition of violence as an intentional act of threatened, attempted, or actual physical and/or psychological harm directed against a non-consenting person. Though this definition is somewhat narrow, excluding dynamic shifts in perspectives on what constitutes violence, it corresponds with much of the existing psychological literature. As part of this review, the following subjects are discussed: (1) a definition of violent behaviour to guide our subsequent reviews, (2) neuropsychological and developmental factors, (3) social cognition and the intersecting roles of affect and cognition, and (4) personality disorders and psychopathy.