Homo sapiens is the only species that has evolved the capacity to attribute to others beliefs, desires, plans, thoughts, point of views and meaning to explain and forecast other’s intent and behaviours especially when these are different from ours or from what our culture and bias dictates. Although the mind theory can appear overly simplistic, it has a commendable scientific pedigree. The scientific support for the theory of the mind is so strong that its proponents suggest that not having a theory of the mind may be a sure sign of cognitive, behavioural or developmental impairment.
Having a sound theory of the other’s mind gives a clear advantage to people who possess such skill, but what happens when we try to explain what we consider deviant behaviour? Are we correct in attributing negative intentions to people who break the law, assuming that breaking social norms is a for-sure symptom of a negative, perverse theory of mind or of a criminal mind?
Career criminals and psychopaths tend to have a low capacity for empathy and perspective taking; it can be said that they are lacking a comprehensive theory of mind and therefore they present with thinking errors which need intervention? Thinking skills, other people’s view and perspective taking have been recognized as criminogenic risk/needs for a number of years and have been address through different interventions. The theory of mind suggests that teaching career criminals what other people feel or think when they are robbed, abused, victimized, defrauded or attacked may increase the career criminal’s capacity to empathize with the victims and thus redirect their behaviours towards socially acceptable alternatives.