skip to content

Centre for Analytic Criminology


This presentation panel with guest speakers Richard E. Niemeyer and K. Ryan Proctor brought together Analytic and Mechanistic criminologists to dicuss the unique as well as shared contributions of Analytic and Mechanistic criminology to criminological theorizing and theory testing. 

New Directions in Criminological Theorising:
Enduring problems and innovative approaches to theory and theory testing from the perspectives of Mechanistic and Analytic Criminology

The Centre for Analytic Criminology was pleased to host the panel presentation events with guest speakers Richard E. Niemeyer (U.S. Air Force Academy) and K. Ryan Proctor (Avila University), whose work on Mechanistic Criminology (e.g., Proctor & Niemeyer 2019, 2020) has forwarded pioneering ways to strengthen criminological theorizing and a more scientific criminology. In this panel we explored some of the ways in which both Mechanistic and Analytic Criminology (e.g., Wikström & Kroneberg 2022) can identify weaknesses in and contribute to stronger theorizing and theory testing in criminology.

Panel flier


Panel Presentation Abstracts:

Are Most Published Criminological Research Findings Wrong? Taking Stock of Criminological Research using a Bayesian Simulation Approach

Richard E. Niemeyer, K. Ryan Proctor, Joseph A. Schwartz, and Robert G. Niemeyer

This study uses Bayesian simulations to estimate the probability that published criminological research findings are wrong. Toward this end, we employ two equations originally popularized in John P.A. Ioannidis’ (in)famous article, “Why Most Published Research Findings are False.” Values for relevant parameters were determined using recent estimates for the field’s average level of statistical power, level of research bias, level of factionalization, and quality of theory. According to our simulations, there is a very high probability that most published criminological research findings are false-positives, and therefore wrong.  Further, we demonstrate that the primary factor contributing to this problem is the poor quality of theory.  Stated differently, even when the overall level of research bias is extremely low and overall statistical power is extremely high, we find that poor theory still results in a high rate of false positives. We conclude with suggestions for improving the validity of criminological research claims.  


Defensible Theory Integration in Criminology:  A New Mechanical Approach

K. Ryan Proctor, Richard E. Niemeyer, Joseph A. Schwartz

Since the 1970s, criminologists have debated whether scientific theory in the field could best be advanced through theory integration or elaboration. This debate remains unresolved. Opponents to integration claim theories contain irreconcilable assumptions that preclude integration (e.g., Hirschi, 1979). Proponents of integration claim existing theories explain different phenomena (Short, 1985, 1989), the assumptions contained in criminological theories are often unnecessary (Akers, 1989), theories can be integrated if their assumptions are compatible (Tittle, 1995), and theory integration is necessary given the failure of falsification and theory competition in the field (e.g., Bernard & Snipes, 1996; Elliot, 1985). This paper provides a systematic review of existing forms of integration, identifies their weaknesses, and proposes a new method of theory integration that draws from the new mechanical philosophy of science (e.g., Craver & Darden, 2013; Glennan, 2017; Glennan & Illari, 2017; Machamer et al., 2000). The proposed method of “mechanistic scaffolding” sees mechanisms as concrete phenomena in the world, the purpose of scientific theory being to represent the workings of these mechanisms, and interdisciplinary and interlevel understandings of mechanisms as crucial to advancing scientific theoretical progress in criminology. This approach provides a defensible means of integrating biological mechanisms into criminological theory and produces robust theories that guard against replication problems.


Analytic Criminology and the Biosocial Underpinnings of Situational Action Theory

Kyle Treiber, P-O H. Wikström

Analytic criminology is an approach to theorizing and studying crime which focuses on the importance of the roles of the people-place interaction, action theory, mechanism-based explanations, and cross-level analysis (Wikström and Treiber 2013; Wikström and Kroneberg, 2022). Analytic criminology is founded on the realization that people are the source of their actions, while the causes of their actions are situational. Situations are therefore the core unit of analysis in the study of crime causation. Situations manifest as mental states encompassing an actor’s motivation and related perception of action alternatives from which the actor makes an action-choice (Wikström and Kroneberg 2022, Wikström 2019). To understand situations and how they arise, it is therefore important to integrate knowledge about the neurocognitive processes and machinery which underlie perceptions and action choices, i.e., knowledge about key biological factors and how they interact with micro-environmental features both developmentally and situationally to explain both crime propensities and criminal action choices (Treiber 2017).



Richard E. Niemeyer, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Sociology in the Department of Behavioral Sciences & Leadership at the U.S. Air Force Academy. His research broadly focuses on developing and applying transdisciplinary theoretical methods to solving long-standing debates in the social sciences. His current research applies a mechanistic philosophy of science to the problem of how to bridge the micro- and macro-level divide in sociological research.

K. Ryan Proctor is an Associate Professor of Criminology and Sociology at Avila University. His research applies the new mechanical philosophy science to criminology to facilitate theory falsification and integration in the field.

Kyle Treiber is Associate Professor in Neurocriminology at the University of Cambridge. She is Co-Director of the Centre for Analytic Criminology ( and the Peterborough Adolescent of Young Adult Development Study (PADS+). A key focus of her research is the integration of neuropsychological and criminological knowledge to advance understanding about criminal behaviour.


Wednesday, 8 June, 2022 - 13:00 to Tuesday, 21 March, 2023 - 11:30
Event location: 
University of Cambridge Institute of Criminology