Regardless of whether you believe that a criminal is either born or made, it’s clear after investigating a wide pool of incarcerated individuals, that there are distinct personality traits and characteristics that the majority of these people share.

Knowing these traits can help communities better protect vulnerable people from situations that may lead to crime and can be a good tool in helping to keep crime rates down.

Of course, it’s very much possible that dangerous criminals can exist without exhibiting any of these discussed traits, however, the likelihood is that a dangerous offender will have at least one of these characteristics.


Many criminals struggle to look at the world without themselves being the center of it. For them, they are the most important thing in it, which can make it a lot easier for that person to inflict suffering on others.

This sense of entitlement can also be seen as selfishness as they’re unable to see the needs of other people, meaning that everything they do is done to benefit themselves, and themselves only. An extreme version of this trait is known as narcissism and this attitude can be summed up as a ‘me, me, me’ outlook on life and in the criminal’s head gives them the right to do anything they want.


To perform some of the things that criminals have performed, in their head the act needs to be justified. To do that, many criminals are able to rationalize situations to effectively come up with excuses for what they’ve done that can sometimes be pretty convincing.

This rationalization is usually displayed in deflecting blame to other people, such as blaming the victim for not protecting themselves better, for example. This rationalization process means that they don’t really think much on the consequences of their own actions, instead preferring to find ways to defend their actions.


Criminals, especially those who commit repeat crimes, have a sense of invulnerability within them. This is a trait that more can be learned about on an online criminal justice associates degree, and means that they are likely to have an inflated sense of optimism when conducting their crimes, or in other words, many criminals simply think that they’re never going to get caught. This inflated ego means that many criminals will follow the same tactic more than once, simply because it worked the first time. It’s this trait that gets a lot of these people caught by the police, as they get too confident and aren’t careful enough.

Antisocial Behavior

Many criminals class themselves as a bit of a loner and are usually people who struggle to fit in with others, instead of preferring isolation. This disconnect from others can lead to a big lack of remorse for their actions or sympathy for others, which can make it easier for these people to slip into a life of crime.

This behavior also makes it difficult for these people to adhere to acceptable social standards, and if this person also displays a lack of self-control, then they can easily have the potential to become a dangerous problem.


Many criminals find themselves to be attached to some sort of thing and be pretty sentimental towards it. This can range from animals to even children and because of this potentially redeeming factor, a lot of criminals view themselves in a positive light due to this borderline obsession.

The issue with this sentimentality is if it’s paired with the previously discussed rationality, it will help them create excuse after excuse after excuse for their behavior and their actions, fueling them to keep going and potentially become a career criminal with repeat offenses.

Cognitive Laziness

One trademark of criminals that’s instilled into a lot of them is how they’re attracted to going down the path of least resistance in life. This can translate into a lack of ambition but can also means that they get bored super easily, which can make people play out poor, not well-thought-out decisions.

Sometimes, especially in disadvantaged communities, the path of least resistance is to embark on a life of professional crime that can fuel that desire to live outside the rules and reinforces an antisocial behavior.


Criminals aren’t people who aren’t aware of the law. In most cases, they’re not even people who don’t care about it. Instead, criminals usually care about right and wrong but don’t have the self-control to stop themselves from going over the line.

This can also be considered impulsiveness and is displayed when people let their emotions get the better of them and cloud their better judgment. Many criminals regret what they have done, but because they have this impulsive behavioral trait, they get themselves into bad situations.