World's most prestigious award in criminology for UCD Professor

Posted January 26, 2017

The Stockholm Prize in Criminology has been awarded to Professor Richard E. Tremblay for his decades-long research into the early childhood origins of violent behaviour.

His ‘original sin’ hypothesis suggests that humans are born with aggressive tendencies. Instead of the world teaching us to be aggressive, socialisation coerces us to control it. However, without a suitable environment to enforce this, our innate aggression is more likely to come out.

The theory is based on a 24-year Montreal study involving over 1,000 children and their families. Participants were divided into two groups: one that received biweekly support from a team of psychologists and another group that did not.

Data collected 15 years after the intervention ended found that 46 percent of boys whose families received support had graduated from high school compared to 32 percent for those who did not. By the age of 24, fewer also had criminal records with 22 percent compared to 33 percent.

Professor Tremblay is Emeritus professor of Pediatrics/Psychiatry/Psychology at the University of Montreal and professor of child development at University College Dublin.

He is founding director of the Research Unit on Children’s Psychosocial Maladjustment and has produced more than 500 publications.

Professor Tremblay was involved in an Irish early-childhood longitudinal study called Preparing for Life. It lasted for six years and was evaluated by UCD Geary Institute. Home visits were provided to 200 pregnant women in North Dublin that covered areas such as nutrition, smoking and provided counselling for alcohol and drugs. The findings were reported by the Irish Times, Irish Examiner and Newstalk.

Previous winners of the Stockholm Prize include Professor Robert J. Sampson of Harvard University and Joan Petersilia of Stanford University.

The prize is presented by the Swedish Ministry for Justice for outstanding achievements in criminological research or the application of research that has reduced crime or advanced human rights.

Professor Tremblay received his undergraduate degree in physical education from University of Ottawa. He completed a master’s degree in psychology at University of Montreal and PhD at the Institute of Education at University of London.

By: Jonny Baxter, digital journalist, UCD University Relations