Littmann, J.R. / Published 2010 / Article
Citation: Littmann, J.R. (2010). Elucidating Actus Reus and Mens Rea: A Descriptive Psychology perspective. In K. E. Davis, F. Lubuguin, & W. Schwartz (Eds.), Advances in Descriptive Psychology: Vol.9. (pp. 409-452). Ann Arbor, MI: Descriptive Psychology Press.
Abstract: The legal concepts actus reus and mens rea are foundational in determinations of culpability and guilt for criminal acts, thereby affecting many lives in our society. This paper begins with a brief overview of the concepts of actus reus, and mens rea, followed by presentation of several resources from Descriptive Psychology to elucidate these concepts and enhance our understanding. Resources include the concepts of Persons and Deliberate Action, a parametric analysis of Behavior, and forms of behavior description related to these parameters. The concepts actus reus and mens rea are elucidated using the forms of behavior description. The analysis demonstrates that to a large extent, the question “Was the person guilty?” translates to the question “What deliberate action was it?”