The Psychology of Cybercrime

  • Alison Attrill-SmithEmail author
  • Caroline Wesson
Reference work entry


Criminological and forensic psychology has had a long history of offering us unique insights into criminal behavior in the offline world. Yet the advent of the Internet has meant that we have had to think about the psychology of criminal behavior from a different perspective. The Internet brings with it new crimes and new ways to commit old crimes, and has the potential to make a criminal of the unsuspecting and naïve Internet user. This chapter introduces the reader to the area of cyberpsychology and provides an overview of current psychological understandings of online crime. We start by considering cybercrime typologies, outlining the categories of cybertrespass, cyberdeception and theft, cyber-pornography and obscenity, and cyber-violence that have informed psychological theorizing in this area, as well as highlighting some of the problems inherent within these categorization systems. We then focus on the psychology of using the Internet as a tool for new and old crimes, where a perpetrator may use the Internet as a “weapon” that has the potential to cause harm or damage. Here, we focus on the old crime of domestic abuse that is committed through the new technology of the Internet and the associated new crime of revenge pornography that relies on the Internet and linked technologies to cause damage to its victims. We finish by considering some of the difficulties of researching online crime from a psychological perspective and propose a need for psychological theorizing to move away from categorizing large sways of mildly related crimes under umbrella labels.


Internet psychology Cyberpsychology Criminal psychology Psychology typologies Forensic psychology 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cyberpsychology Research Group, Department of PsychologyUniversity of WolverhamptonWolverhamptonUK

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