The impact of emotion on offender decision-making: advancing our understanding through virtual re-enactment

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This article reviews approaches to the study of emotion in offender decision-making research. It then draws together theoretical models from psychology and neuroscience to propose an innovative method with which to move this field forward. Theories in this field have long called for a deeper understanding of the impact of emotion on criminal behaviour. While recent research has made some fruitful gains, it has been hampered by an overly narrow view of emotion and by limited methodologies. Using the expertise paradigm as an interdisciplinary and integrative framework, this article advocates incorporating into it established models of emotional experience from affective neuroscience to aid this endeavour. It further argues that employing the currently evolving virtual enactment method as a measurement tool will provide an unparalleled insight into the study of emotion as it unfolds during the offending act. Both environmental crime prevention and desistance from crime are likely to benefit considerably as a result.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology, Crime & Law
Early online date24 Jan 2024
Publication statusEarly online - 24 Jan 2024


  • offender decision-making
  • emotion
  • expertise
  • affective neuroscience
  • virtual reality

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