Relationship between Temperament and Crime: An Analysis of a Favorite Theory of Islamic Psychologists

Document Type: Original Article


1 Ph.D. Student , Department of Law, Meybod University, Meybod , Iran

2 Associate Professor, Department of Law, Meybod University, Meybod, Iran

3 Assistant Professor, Department of Law, Meybod University, Meybod , Iran

4 Assistant Professor, Department of Iranian Traditional Medicine, Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical, Iran



Change in political system of Iran in the late 1970s led to a change in division of sciences. This change was mainly based on division of human sciences into two groups, Islamic and non-Islamic, by the revolutionaries. Thus, Islamic psychology and Islamic law came to the fore and were considered for behavior analysis. Due to the increase in crime in Iranian society and judicial cases, as well as the profound influence of Iran's legal and educational system on Islam; the purpose of this paper is to re-analyze relationship between temperament and crime, considering the views of Islamic psychologists. The present research method was of qualitative content analysis type, statistical population including all works related to research topic, and targeted sampling method was used to select sources. The researchers looked at the inference classification method for data analysis. Findings show that relationship between temperament and crime can be considered as an oldest theory in this regard, while scientific advances have brought many alternative theories. Another finding of the study shows that in determining punishment for criminals, the attention of Islamic psychologists is focused on Implementation of justice theory; while through examining verses of Qur'an cannot find much evidence to support biological crime theory. In practice, the biological theory of crime has not been accepted by legislators of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Islamic psychologists need to reconsider it.




Main Subjects

Article Title [Persian]

رابطه مزاج با جرم:تحلیلی دوباره بر یک تئوری مورد علاقه روانشناسان اسلامی

Authors [Persian]

  • فاطمه شوری 1
  • عباس کلانتری خلیل آباد 2
  • نفیسه متولی زاده 3
  • سید کاظم کاظمینی 4
1 دانشجوی دکتری ، گروه حقوق ، دانشگاه میبد
2 دانشیارگروه حقوق، دانشگاه میبد، میبد، ایران
3 استادیار، گروه حقوق ، دانشگاه میبد
4 استادیار ، گروه طب سنتی ، دانشگاه علوم پزشکی شهید صدوقی یزد ، یزد
Abstract [Persian]

تغییر نظام سیاسی در ایران در اواخر دهه 1970 ، تغییر در تقسیم بندی علوم را نیز در پی داشت. این تغییر عمدتا مبتنی بر تقسیم علوم انسانی به دو گروه اسلامی و غیر اسلامی توسط انقلابیون بود. بدین ترتیب روانشناسی اسلامی و حقوق اسلامی پا به صحنه گذاشته و برای تحلیل رفتار مورد توجه قرار گرفتند. با توجه به افزایش جرم و پرونده های قضائی  و هم چنین تاثیر پذیری عمیق نظام حقوقی و تربیتی ایران از دین اسلام ؛ هدف مقاله حاضر تحلیل دوباره تئوری رابطه مزاج با جرم با عنایت به نگاه روانشناسان اسلامی است. روش تحقیق حاضر از نوع تحلیل محتوی کیفی ، جامعه آماری شامل کلیه آثار مرتبط با موضوع پژوهش ، و روش نمونه گیری هدفمند می باشد. برای تحلیل داده ها از روش طبقه بندی استنتاجی استفاده گردید. یافته های تحقیق نشان می دهد رابطه مزاج با جرم را می توان قدیمی ترین نظریه در این خصوص دانست در حالی که پیشرفت های علمی نظریه های بدیل فراوانی را به ارمغان آورده اند. یافته دیگر تحقیق نشان می دهد که در تعیین مجازات برای مجرمان توجه روانشناسان اسلامی معطوف به تئوری "اجرای عدالت درمانی" است ، در حالی که با بررسی آیات قرآن نمی توان شواهد بسیاری برای پشتیبانی از " تئوری زیست شناختی جرم" یافت. در یک جمع بندی اجمالی می توان گفت که در مرحله عمل ، نظریه زیست شناختی جرم مورد پذیرش قانونگذاران جمهوری اسلامی ایران قرار نگرفته است و روانشناسان اسلامی باید در آن تجدید نظر نمایند.

Keywords [Persian]

  • مزاج
  • جرم
  • طب اسلامی
  • روان شناسی اسلامی
  • حقوق اسلامی


  1. 1.     Introduction


         The victory of Islamic Revolution in Iran in the late 1970s was not limited to making sweeping changes in political system, but also affected other social systems, including scientific system. In fact, the dominance of political-religious system affected scientific system in two ways: First, change content of textbooks and curricula (from primary schools to universities) and second, changing division of science into two groups, Islamic and non-Islamic (Tezcur, and Azadarmaki, 2008). This division was mainly focused on human sciences and disciplines such as psychology, education, law, political science, management, economics and sociology, although exceptions such as medicine can also be mentioned among the experimental sciences. According to proponents of this division, religion of Islam, and works of Islamic thinkers contain specific views on principles and content of these sciences so that they can be placed as an independent school of thought against other common views (Sajedi, 2011). Based on this idea, for example, we can name sciences such as Islamic law, Islamic psychology or Islamic medicine. Thus, during the last four decades in Iran, researchers and professors of universities have witnessed the establishment of fields of study or publication of numerous books and publications with Islamic suffixes.

          One of sciences that were strongly influenced by change of political system in Iran, both academically and in practice is law and its various branches. Thus, Iranian legislators have strongly considered Islam - and especially Imami jurisprudence - in examining, passing and enforcing various laws such as family law, civil law, criminal law, commercial law, etc. (Banakar and Ziaee, 2018). Meanwhile, one of the topics of interest to Islamic lawmakers in recent years has been identification of causes of crime. Thus, Islamic jurists became interested in examining characteristics of human beings and role of heredity in occurrence of crime. Pay attention to the hereditary characteristics of human beings causes the entry of other Islamic sciences, namely Islamic medicine and Islamic psychology, into the subject of crime. Islamic medicine shows physical characteristics of human beings, and Islamic psychology tries to show what psychological and behavioral characteristics people have according to their temperament. Thus, combining theories of these two sciences comes to the aid of Muslim jurists to find out whether there is a relationship between crime and temperament. The purpose of this article is to provide an answer to this question according to attitude of Islamic psychologists.



2. Research Background

           Different types of crime have been rise in most countries over the past decade (Statista, 2020). Iran has not been an exception, especially when we consider that almost half of the population is very young, who usually have more physical strength, behavioral characteristics and mental readiness to commit crimes (Zahedian, 2017). According to the statistics of 2018, 13 million and 563 thousand cases have been registered in the Iranian judiciary and there are 189000 prisoners in the country (Avaei, 2018). Obviously, each court case normally has two parties. Thus, it can be said that according to the population of Iran (83 million people at present), on average, each household visits the judiciary once a year. If we add these to the number of criminals who are out of prison and hidden crimes, we find that Iranian society is facing a social, legal and moral crisis.

         Thus, understanding the causes of crime has become one of the concerns of educators, psychologists, and lawyers. For this reason, in recent years, several laws have been passed by various legal authorities, such as the judiciary and the Islamic Consultative Assembly. For example, the "Islamic Criminal Legislation of Iran" is the most important criminal law that after several revisions was finally approved by the Islamic Consultative Assembly of Iran with 729 articles (Official Newspaper of the Islamic Republic of Iran, 2013). In addition to passing laws, the first step is to examine and assess existing theories about the causes of crime in various fields of the humanities. In this regard, psychologists and sociologists have proposed different theories.

         There are many theories about causes of crime. One of the most famous of these is theory of Italian psychiatrist Cesare Lombroso.Influenced by Charles Darwin's ideas, he believed that criminals were hereditary aggressors and their brains were not fully developed (Portnoy & Farrington, 2015). So Lembrosso believed that crime was the product of biological characteristics. Contrary to Lambrosso's idea, which is a biological theory of crime, sociological theories' approaches emphasize that crime is shaped by its external factors: the experiences of neighborhood and peer group (Akers, 1999). The theory of social disorganization, proposed by sociologists at the University of Chicago in the 1920-1930s, was influenced by the research of Clifford Shaw and Henry McKay. Examining the location of the teens, they found that patterns of crime in areas with poor housing and hygiene, weak socio-economic and immigrant population are higher (Kubrin and Weitzer, 2003).

         Another theory about the causes of crime is Anomie -Strain Theory. Anomie is a concept developed by Emile Durkheim to analyze gap between social norms and many other socially accompanying variables. Robert Merton, an American sociologist, used this concept to explain some of the causes of crime. She believes that crime occurs when there is a gap between goals of society (for example, acquisition of wealth and means of achieving goals (education, employment). This discrepancy between means and goals leads to frustration and dissatisfaction, and some people are encouraged to use illegitimate or illegal means to succeed (Featherstone and Deflem, 2003). In line with previous theory, Subcultural Theory was proposed by Albert Cohen, who conducted research on poor groups. He believed that as young people in poor class do not have desire or power to achieve their ideals, they are frustrated and try to create a new system of subcultural values (Stearn-2012).

          Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin, based on the theory of differential opportunity structures, argue that the opportunities available to young people in the lower classes are different in criminal situations, such as criminal behavior (income from crime), conflict (fighting rival gangs), and passive behavior. ). Social Control Theory does not directly address the causes of crime and focuses more on why people follow the law. Travis Hirschi, an American scientist, believes that people behave according to norms because of strong social bonds, but when these bonds are broken or weakened, they commit criminal acts (Ford, 2017).

         Rational Choice Theory, influenced by the activities of James Wilson and Charles Murray, emphasizes that individuals, as rational actors, are able to determine their own choices, including the choice of crime. Therefore, individuals consciously choose possible advantages and disadvantages of each crime (Mccarthy and Chaudhary, 2013). Another theory about causes of crime is relative deprivation theory. This theory, similar to anomie theory, emphasizes that crime occurs when members of groups feel unfair to others. As the sense of injustice is perceived and determined by individual, decision to choose crime as a response to injustice is based on type of mental assessment (Baron, 2004). The latest theory, Gender Theory, points out that crime is fundamentally masculine. Maleness of crime is hegemonic masculinity. "Masculinity", which is commonly referred to as the dominant position in sexual relations in any society, is accepted in a very specific way (Franklinand Franklin, 2009). As can be seen, the idea of relationship between crime and temperament is more in line with the oldest theory of causes of crime, namely biological theory of crime. According to this idea, crime can be affected by factors within offender's body. For example, antisocial personality disorder is more common among biological relatives than people with disorder (Farid Hosseini, Kaviani, Asadi, Ali Maliri & Moghaddas Bayat, 2007).

         In a nutshell, scientists have always been trying to analyze personality of criminals in order to reduce crime rate in society. At the same time, one of most important principles of criminal law is proportion of punishment to crime and role of offender. Accordingly, Islamic jurists also try to find out “what are the causes of crime in Islamic sources - such as the Qur'an - and whether there is a connection between the type of temperament and crime?” According to this goal, the research questions are:


• What are types of temperaments?

• What is Qur'an's view on relationship between crime and temperament?

• What is view of Islamic psychologists regarding types of temperament?


3. Research Method


        The present research method is of qualitative content analysis type, statistical population includes all works related to the research topic, and targeted sampling method was used for selection of sources. The research sample includes 43 cases. Inference data was also used to analyze the data. In this classification, the theoretical aspects of analysis are related to sample texts (Hajiloo, 2004).


4. Results

       The According to content analysis of selected samples, the present section contains information about temperament and its types, the views of Islamic psychologists and Qur'an's view on relationship between crime and temperament.


Basic Definitions


     The word "temperament" for psychologists and physicians has always been associated with the Greek Physician "Hippocrates." who spoke for the first time about the effect of temperament on behavior. According to Jorjani (2002), temperament is a quality in traditional medicine that is obtained by mixing four elements (water, fire, wind, soil) in the body. Temperament in traditional Islamic medicine means a new quality that result from the combination of four elements and their interaction in a composite body (Sajzi, 2008). There is a unique temperament for every creature in the universe, and no two people can be found to have exactly same temperament. However, Muslim physicians have divided temperament into nine main temperaments: moderate, warm, cold, dry, wet, hot and dry, cold and dry, warm and wet, and cold and wet. If the amount and composition of four pillars is in line with needs of human body, the created temperament is called moderate (Galenus, 2008). In general, unbalanced temperament is divided into two categories: singular and compound. The meaning of singular temperament is that the relation of four elements to each other is such that only one quality prevails, such as hot, cold, dry and wet temperament. However, in the compound temperament, this ratio is such that the two qualities reveal their effects simultaneously (Jorjani, 2002). Of course, temperament may be affected by various factors such as biological factors such as climate, food, mental disorders, etc. (Jorjani, 2002). Figure 1 shows the four states of temperament.


Phlegmatic Type

Sanguine Type

Melancholic Type

Choleric Type







Be careful



Not sociable























Good manners





Present answer

Never mind











Figure 1: Behavioral grouping of people according to temperament type



           According to Figure 1, people with a hot and dry temperament (choleric), leans body, bony bones are usually large, extremely hot, and have a strong desire to eat cold foods. In terms of behavioral characteristics, biliary people are generally very energetic and active, intelligent and shrewd, talkative with a high threshold of irritability. The hot temper group is sanguine with muscular body, good appetite, and susceptibility to high blood pressure and heart disease. In terms of food taste, they eat all kinds of food. Behaviorally, demo people are brave, confident, risk-taking, leadership-oriented, usually cheerful, friendly, and calm, but if they get angry, they may engage in risky behaviors. People with a cold and dry temperament (melancholic soda) are sensitive to cold weather, extreme desire to sleep; have a feeling of weakness and low energy. These people are regular, far-sighted, precise, calm and introverted in terms of behavior.

          People with a cold-wet temperament (phlegmatic) are usually obese, have thinning hair, and a strong desire to sleep. In terms of behavior, they are low in energy, patient, calm, and rarely angry, and tend to eat hot (Azimi 2014). In terms of the negative behavioral consequences of each mood, it can be said that the predominance of soda over a person leads to feelings of pessimism, fear, onslaught of negative thoughts, resentment, obsession, stress, depression and wealth accumulation (Tabari, 2003). Shortness of breath leads to instant insanity, excessive sexual desire and ability, cruelty, and excessive pleasure (Ibn Rashd, 2008). Weakness of will, negativity and extreme flexibility are the consequences of overcoming my phlegm. Too much bile leads to extreme irritability, instant anger, excuses, haste, and superiority (Ali Ibn Musa, 2002).


Quran verses


        One of the verses of Qur'an that can be used to prove effect of temperament on committing a crime is verse 58 of Surah A'raf. This verse refers to innate talent and ability of individuals to commit or not to commit a crime (Makarem Shirazi, 1995). In verse 84 of Surah Isra, God says that human beings behave according to their own image. Commentators on meaning of the structure have expressed temperament, religion, need, habit, method and queen (Tabatabai, 1997; Makarem Shirazi, 1995). Allameh Tabatabai (1997) believes personality limits a person and does not allow him to do whatever he wants freely; because there is a unique relationship between inner attributes and type of composition of human physical strength.

         Some narrations consider personality to mean intention (Klini, 1987; Faiz Kashani, 1986). Intention means determination of the heart and "conscious decision" to perform an action (Mesbah Yazdi, no date). If we consider the meaning of personality to be intentional, we must take a fresh look at determining the punishment of people with mood disorders. Thus, in some people, acute temperament impairs a person's abilities, destabilizes the person's will against carnal desires, and forces him to commit a crime. In such a way that it becomes impossible to resist carnal desires and abandonment of an action that is in accordance with the personality (Tabatabai, 1997). Therefore, it should be said that a person who is in a bad mood cannot make a conscious decision like a person who has a balanced temperament due to the hesitation of the will. From this point of view, these differences should be considered in determining and enforcing the punishment of such individuals.


Islamic Psychologists' Perspective on Temperament

        Interest in the role of temperament in determining human behavior among philosophers, physicians, psychologists, and religious scholars has a long history in Iran. This attention began with the influence of Greek philosophy on Muslim scholars and then entered the fields of traditional medicine and psychology by people such as Ibn Sina (Hajar, 2013). After the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, many religious scholars, physicians, psychologists, and educational scientists, influenced by the anti-Western atmosphere of politics, called for a return to Islamic and negative Western sciences, especially in human sciences. One of the sciences that many of these people wanted to change was psychology. According to these experts, the teachings of the Qur'an, as well as other religious sources, are the best guide for recognizing and explaining human behavior. For this reason, the term Islamic psychology spread rapidly. In the context of this revolutionary thinking, Islamic psychology is the scientific study of behavior based on the culture and perspective of Islam (Gharavi, 2001). By accepting this view, various studies have been conducted over the past four decades to explain the causes of human behavior.

          One of the topics of interest for Islamic psychologists is the role of temperament in determining behavior. Initial efforts to explain role of temperament were first made by specialists in jurisprudence and then by physicians interested in traditional medicine, psychologists and specialists in educational sciences. Jurisprudential scholars mainly focused on studying and searching the verses of Qur'an on topics such as motivation, human traits, lifestyle, and their relationship to temperament. For example, Azimi (2014) in explaining four natures in the transcendence of ethics examines role of temperament in moral vices and virtues according to the Qur'an and opinion of Islamic scholars whom believe that many moral vices are associated with temperament and moderation of temperament leads individual and society to moral excellence.

           The goal of physicians was to adapt concept of temperament to new findings of medical science. For example, Ahangchi Markaz and Saeedi Mehr (2011) tried to prove that the quality of autonomic nervous system performance can be considered as a modern alternative to traditional concept of temperament. Regardless of the efforts of specialists in other sciences, we are dealing with many research findings in the two fields of psychology and educational sciences that have examined and explained the role of temperament. Rajaeifar (2013) in a study entitled "The effect of mood on a person's behavioral ethical characteristics and its relationship with education", while expressing the moral characteristics of different temperaments, recommends that educators should pay attention to the characteristics of students. He also concludes that temperamental characteristics of different people are not deterministic, and that human beings can move towards their own growth and perfection under proper training and self-purification. Yathribi, Farmahini Farahani, Kheirandish and Asghari (2015) by drawing positive and negative moral characteristics of people according to type of temperament (Table 1), believe that role of temperament in morality increases when a person has no information about his temperament and how to maintain and moderation it.


Table 1.

 Types of moral characteristics of individuals according to temperament


Moral characteristics (Positive)

Moral characteristics (Negative)

Hot and dry

Energy activation

Nervous and aggressive

Hot and wet

Brave and managerial

Dangerous behaviors

Cold and wet



Cold and dry

Precise and orderly

Pessimistic and isolated


          Bazargani, Hakemi, Tafaghadi (2018) found that the transformational leadership style of bile and melancholy temperament is effective, but the intensity of bile mood influence on this leadership style is more than the melancholy style. Bile people have sharp behaviors and show high speed in all actions and behaviors. Another psychological characteristic of people with biliary temperament is that they make decisions quickly and implement their decisions very quickly. The sum of these studies shows that Iranian researchers have tried to show the effect of temperament on different dimensions of behavior.


Relationship between crime and temperament


          Islamic criminologists believe that man is a creature with a will, but his will is not absolute because he may commit a crime due to the influence of individual and social factors. Given that each temperament has a unique physical and mental characteristic that affects his behavior, actions, and reactions, it can be said that some misbehaviors provide grounds for committing certain crimes. Acknowledging the descriptions that doctors give to commercial people, it seems that this group is likely to commit financial crimes and crimes that require thought and planning, such as fraud and forgery of documents by them (Kay Niya , 2009). It can also be said that sodas play the role of deputy in crime than leadership. Furthermore, due to the fact that soda people are cowards, they are less likely to commit crimes that include physical abuse. Rostami, Zohrehvand and Mojahedi (1398) in a study of the relationship between temperament and delinquency among prisoners in western Iran found that the crime rate is higher among cold and dry species.

People with hot tempers; due to traits such as risk-taking, audacity, and fearlessness, are more likely to commit crimes against others. Emotional killings appear to be carried out more by temperamental biliary individuals who quickly make decisions and execute them. Considering the characteristics of capricious people, it seems that committing a crime related to bankruptcy, such as fraud, pre-planned crime, and ultimately violent crime and sexual crimes, is mostly done by this group. People with phlegm who are lazy and sedentary usually do not commit a crime or commit minor crimes such as leaving alimony, which is rooted in laziness.


5. Conclusion


        The research findings show that attention to relationship between temperament and crime can be considered the oldest theory in this field, while various experts in psychology, social sciences, law and criminology have proposed many alternative theories. It is also clear that proponents of Islamic psychology are more inclined to the biological theory of crime because works of Muslim scholars such as Ibn Sina and Jorjani have not paid much attention to other theories of crime. Another finding of study shows that in determining the punishment for criminals, Islamic psychologists are focused on justice treatment theory (Alipour, 2010). In this type of justice administration, crime is a sign of patient's physical or personality disorder and therefore main focus is on correcting and treating offender. In other theories of justice, however, the legislature's goal is to return society, the victim, and the offender to the state before the crime and to improve quality of social life.

          Another finding of present study shows that investigate of Quranic verses does not provide much evidence to support effect of temperament on crime. While this finding seems to contradict content of old resources available in the Islamic world as well as traditional medicine, it is more consistent with the subject of "human free will." While the Qur'an emphasizes role of reason and authority in human actions in several verses, it seems that accepting relationship between temperament and crime involves a kind of deprivation of responsibility from the offender. Another finding of study, which could be supported by previous finding, was that present researchers were unable to find a law in “Criminal Legislation of Islamic Republic of Iran” in which legislature had accepted temperament of crime. The latest finding show that many Muslim proponents of biological theory seem to be aware that accepting this theory means a lack of will in humans, and therefore they try to demonstrate that temperament is also influenced by external factors such as nutrition or climate. However, in practical stage, the biological theory of crime has not been accepted by Iranian Muslim legislators.

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