Assignment: Psychology of Theft

Assignment Instructions

Instructions: Write a 5-8 page paper (this total includes the Title Page and the Reference Page) which address the following:
•What role does human behavior play in the theft?
•Highlight a minimum of four theories on why people begin to steal
•Discuss the “theft triangle” and the psychology behind it.


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Stealing is quite a mystifying behavior that trips up many people, especially when it is used as a shortcut. It is an impulsive action, a denial of something someone has lost and most importantly, an expression of envy. Apparently, it might even be a sign of people trying to find something that may be encouraging a sign of loss inside themselves, taken away in the unconscious. In their minds, people steal for different reasons. There are people who steal out of need, others out of fear or for revenge while others steal yet they already have all they need. An act of theft may act to bring out an individual’s hidden traits, paradoxically proving beneficial in the sense of their self-development.

Human Behavior and Theories of Theft

            Commonly, stealing begins at a tender age. As a child, one’s cognition is usually not very well developed to differentiate between right and wrong (Gash, 2016). Therefore, a child may pick up something, without considering that it might be wrong. For this reason, psychologists suggest that to prevent this behavior from becoming a part of a child as they grow up, they must make ….

            For most people, stealing usually occurs as a result of need. For instance, a mother may steal in order to feed herself and her family (Gash, 2016). This mother may not be very happy about it, but she does it anyway. She needs to feed her family and realizes that if she fails, they could starve to death. However, this is concept is often used as an excuse. In a country …

            Fear is another human behavior that can be attributed to stealing. People may steal out of fear that if they don’t, something bad will happen (Gash, 2016). Take the example of a convict who steals an item for a fellow convict after being threatened to be beaten up. This specific convict does not think about the item they steal, or what it is for. They steal to protect themselves. It all narrows…

 Humans are naturally desirous. This explains why some people may steal just because they can, or because they cannot get that what they want to steal either with time, money or even work. This explains why some politicians may steal public resources, yet they are not really in utter need (Goodenough & Decker, 2017).  When stealing becomes a repetitive behavior, an individual can be referred to as being kleptomaniac, which has been explained in psychology as an impulse control disorder. All in all, human behavior indicates that human ….

As Socrates said, no one willingly commits an evil act. In the mind, evil is turned from bad into good (Melzer, 2016). The thief, just like the pedophile, who completely convinces himself that the child is honestly interested in making love with him, convinces himself that he has an undisputed right to the objects that he desired (Melzer, 2016). He convinces himself that he needs the object he wants to steal more than others, that it is rightfully his. Naturally, it is easier to steal from large anonymous, organizations or the government, rather …

The Theft Triangle

The theft triangle is a widely accepted model that is designed with the purpose of elucidating why employees and subordinates may want to steal from an organization or a company. The presence of the three captured factors which make up the triangle increases the desire from employees to steal and hence the risk of theft and loss to the business (Peters & Maniam, 2016). These factors….

Motive, in most instances, is considered to be driven by emotions and money as the key motivating factors behind theft from employees. If an employee or subordinate feels that they are not paid enough for the work that they put in, they might consider theft as an act of vengeance (Peters & Maniam, 2016). Additionally, employees may also be frustrated when they have not been awarded …

Desire goes hand in hand with motive. Some employees may foresee gratification and pleasure from stealing money or goods from their employers. As Schirmer engineering explains, in their minds, employees think that they want to do something because of something else. In some cases, motive and desire are actually placed on the same side of the triangle (Peters & Maniam, 2016). This way, they add…

Consequently, ability leads to the presence of opportunity. Opportunity may be used to refer to the timing of the crime or the method of the crime. If there are no significant obstacles to committing a crime or the measures are considerably insufficient, then the risk of employee theft is higher (Peters & Maniam, 2016). This is one aspect of the triangle that can be more easily…


The psychology of theft is an issue that has been researched on and discussed by psychologists for many years. Morally, stealing is wrong and has been punishable by law for as long as humanity can remember. However, from the psychological point of view, theft may be largely misunderstood today. The main reasons why people steal revolve around fear, need, desire …


Gash, T. (2016). Criminal: The truth about why people do bad things. Penguin UK.

Goodenough, O. R., & Decker, G. J. (2017). Why do good people steal intellectual property?. In Law, Mind, and Brain (pp. 345-372). Routledge.

Melzer, A. M. (2016). The natural goodness of man: On the System of Rousseau’s thought. University of Chicago Press.

Peters, S., & Maniam, B. (2016). Corporate fraud and employee theft: Impacts and costs on business. Journal of Business and Behavioral Sciences28(2), 104.

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