Top Ten Criminal Thinking Errors

Criminal thinking errors are prevalent in our society and these made the top ten list thanks to the ground-breaking work of Stanton Samenow and Yochelson in their three volumes of work titled, “The Criminal Personality”. Although these errors are considered “criminal thinking” they really are present in each of us to varying degrees. Offenders take these errors to the extreme which then develops into patterns of thinking and behavior that continually victimize and harm others.


Key Question: Which of these errors to you see in yourself and how can you change them?

Check out our other criminal thinking infographic… and visit us at!

About Brian Loebig

Owner of, author of, and part-time Technology Manager for the Alliance for Performance Excellence, Brian has over 15 years of experience working in the quality improvement, human services and technology fields as an administrator and consultant. Brian has also worked as a practitioner and administrator in the corrections, substance abuse and human services fields with a special emphasis on technology. He continues to work with numerous community-based non-profits as a web technology consultant, board member and volunteer. Feel free to .
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3 Responses to Top Ten Criminal Thinking Errors

  1. Tommy Sauer says:

    I truly enjoy this site. There’s so much info to help correct where our parents failed. And as an adult, I agree that it’s my responsibility to do so. I don’t want to pass the bad stuff to my children. Only the good.
    P. S. Would someone please correct the above infograghic. 5 and 6 read exactly the same definition.

  2. Hi there,
    I stumbled upon your criminal thinking errors graphic somewhere on the net, on Pinterest I think and have to admit that before I read this explanation here, I rather used the graphic to actually understand criminal thinking. Not so much to investigate myself although I’ve got to admit most of the attitudes aren’t mine. Yet it’s an eye-opener for understanding how criminals see the world and act.
    However, when it comes to one of the points you make, I think that it might be possible that – given the extraordinary attempt to describe criminal minds is definitely hard work and sometimes it’s not so easy to find words for what’s on one’s mind that transport it to the audience the right way – there are better ways to express it (sorry for me being ‘critical of others’ ;)) “Will respond only if he nets an immediate payoff”. That’s basically a trait every normal person has. Besides the lack of time perspective aspect, but this one is mentioned as an own thinking error. All of us are motivated by some kind of payoff in all our actions. That’s not really a thinking error, it’s how our brains work. That criminals build up self at others’ expense is mentioned, as well as the lack of an ownership concept, but the error regarding what I think really is behind what’s
    “will respond only….” is a lack of acceptance of limits to the right to a desired payoff.
    Whileas non criminal people are inhibited in their efforts to gain or achieve something by laws, ethics, morals, societal norms etc. criminals lack this inhibition. “doesn’t accept (any) limitations to fulfill his desires” is how I understand this. It fits the “lack of interest in responsible performance” section without being applicable to every person on the planet but describing criminal behaviour.

    Just a thought.

    Anyway, thank you for this great and simple depiction of criminal thinking. Although I deal(t) with criminals in private and also partly in professional life, I couldn’t have worked this out alone and it’s a great help to understand criminal thinking!

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