Criminology is a multidisciplinary field because it involves social and psychological components in its basic goal of understanding crime and criminal behavior. Criminology is not primarily concerned with the criminal justice system. Rather, it involves study and research intended to better comprehend why crime occurs. In order to understand, and address, criminal conduct by an individual or by a category within the general public, it is important to develop a mental picture of the reasons why crime occurs under myriad circumstances. The social element involved in an individual’s background may provide considerable insight into why he or she has made the decisions he or she has made – decisions that stand outside the legal and moral parameters that the broader society has deemed acceptable. Similarly, understanding the psychological and physiological factors that contribute to crime helps criminologists develop strategies for reducing the incidences of crime.
Developing the level of knowledge necessary to meet the goals of understanding and reducing crime requires students studying criminology to expand their field of study to include psychology as well as broader social phenomena that may be indicators of where why crime can be expected to occur.