As part of my visit to the FBI Headquarters for the FBI Corporate Compliance Officer Outreach Event, Supervisory Special Agent Susan Kossler discussed her work in the Behavior Analysis division of the FBI. The Silence of the Lambs and “Criminal Minds” have glamorized the work of FBI profilers, making them seem like real life versions of Sherlock Holmes who always get their man.
Of course, reality is much more complex. And according to SSA Kossler, much less glamorous.
In applying the analysis to financial crimes, the research unfortunately shows that many of the traits that are indicative of a white collar criminal are also the traits most companies seek in their top executives.
The other complexity is the division in criminal behavior between the leaders and the followers. Take the case of Bernie Madoff. Clearly, he was the leader of the crime. Others convicted, under indictment, or under investigation were mostly followers. They believed in their leader and followed him into the dark cave of blatant fraud. Their motivations and behavioral traits are likely much different than those of Mr. Madoff.
SSA Kossler provided an extensive bibliography if you are interested in further study.
Bibliography: (Bold indicates the article is available online.)
- Alalehto, T. (2003). Economic Crime: Does Personality Matter? International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 47(3), 335-355.
- Babiak, P., & Hare, R. D. (2006). Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work. New York, New York: Harper Collins Publishers.
- Babiak, P., Neuman C. S., Hare, R. D. (2010). Corporate Psychopathy: Talking the Walk. Behavioral Sciences and the Law; 28, 174-193.
- Benson, M. L., Kerley, K.R. (2001). Life Course Theory and White Collar Crime. Contemporary Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice: Essays in Honor of Gil Geis, 121-136.
- Benson, M. L., Moore, E. (1992). Are White Collar and Common Offenders the Same? An Empirical and Theoretical Critique of a Recently Proposed General Theory of Crime. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 29 (3), 251-272.
- Blickle, G., Schlegel, A., Fassbender, P., & Klein, U. (2006). Some Personality Correlates of Business White-Collar Crime. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 55 (2), 220-233.
- Bucy, P. H., Formby, E. P., Raspanti, M. S., & Rooney, K. E. (2008). Why do they do it? The Motives, Mores, and Character of White Collar Criminals. St. John’s Law Review, 82, 401-571.
- Collins, J. M., & Schmidt, F. L. (1993). Personality, Integrity, and White Collar Crime: A Construct Validity Study. Personnel Psychology, 46, 295-311.
- Croall, H. (2001). “Conceptualizing White Collar Crime,” in Understanding White Collar Crime. Buckingham: Open University Press.
- Dhami, M. K. (2007). White-collar prisoners’ perceptions of audience reaction. Deviant Behavior, 28, 57-77.
- Elliot, R. T. (2010). Examining the Relationship Between Personality Characteristics and Unethical Behaviors Resulting in Economic Crime. Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, 12, 269-276.
- Fisher, K. (2009). How to Smell a Rat: The Five Signs of Financial Fraud. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.
- Heath, J. (2008). Business Ethics and Moral Motivation: A Criminological Perspective. Journal of Business Ethics, 83, 595-614.
- Kish-Gephart, J., Harrison, D., & Treviño, L. (2010). Bad apples, bad cases, and bad barrels: Meta-analytic evidence about sources of unethical decisions at work. Journal of Applied Psychology, 95(1), 1-31. doi: 10.1037/a0017103
- Klenowski, P. M. (2008). “Other People’s Money”: An Empirical Examination of the Motivational Differences between Male and Female White Collar Offenders (Doctoral Dissertation). Available from Dissertations and Theses Database. (UMI No. 3303104).
- Langton, L., Piquero, N. L. (2007). Can general strain theory explain white-collar crime? A preliminary investigation of the relationship between strain and select white-collar offenses. Journal of Criminal Justice, 35, 1-15.
- Piquero, N. L., Schoepfer, A., Langton, L. (2008). Completely Out of Control or the Desire to Be in Complete Control? How Low Self-Control and the Desire for Control Relate to Corporate Offending. Crime & Delinquency 56(4), 627-647.
- Piquero, N. L., Exum, L. M., Simpson, S. S. (2005). Integrating the Desire-for-Control and Rational Choice in a Corporate Crime Context. Justice Quarterly 22(2), 252-280.
- Piquero, N. L., & Benson, M. L. (2004). White-Collar Crime and Criminal Careers: Specifying a Trajectory of Punctuated Situational Offending. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 20(2), 148-165.
- Poortinga, E., Lemmen, C., Jibson, M. D. (2006). A Case Control Study: White-collar Defendants Compared with Defendants Charged with Other Nonviolent Theft. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 34, 82-9.
- Price, M. & Norris, D. M. (2009). White- Collar Crime: Corporate and Securities and Commodities Fraud. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 37, 538-44.
- Ragatz, L., & Fremouw, W. (2010). A Critical Examination of Research on the Psychological Profiles of White-Collar Criminals. Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice, 10, 373-402.
- Stotland, E. (1977). White Collar Criminals. Journal of Social issues, 33(4), 179-196.
- Sutherland, E.H. (1940). White Collar Criminality. American Sociological Review, 5(1),1-12.
- Sutherland, E. H. White Collar Crime: the Uncut Version. New Haven: Yale, 1983.
- Walters, G. D., & Geyer, M. D. (2004). Criminal Thinking and Identity in Male White-Collar Offenders. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 31(3), 263-281.
- Weisburd, D., Chayet, E. F., & Waring, E. J. (1990). White-Collar Crime and Criminal Careers: Some Preliminary Findings. Crime & Delinquency, 36(3), 342-35