Richard E. Tremblay
Richard E. Tremblay

The Stockholm Prize in Criminology is the world's most prestigious award in the field of criminology. The 2017 Stockholm Prize in Criminology lauds the work of Professor Richard E. Tremblay in Montreal, Paris and Dublin.

Crime prevention

The international jury for the Stockholm Prize in Criminology has recognized Professor Tremblay as the leading scholar in the world in developing basic science connections between biological, family and social factors in human development, and who combines this research with rigorous tests of policies that may alter these factors to reduce crime and violence.

The Jury recognizes a lifetime of pioneering work, reflected in over 500 publications, that began in Montreal in the 1980s and continues today in Paris and Dublin with new research testing pre-natal crime prevention with at-risk mothers.

The Jury took special note of his success in drawing connections across many different scientific disciplines, as well as philosophy (in the tradition of great scientists who sought to build connections rather than walls between disciplines), as well as embedding this basic science into applied criminology testing public policies for crime prevention.

Prize Winning Research

The jury selected four key findings to highlight from Professor Tremblay’s research.

  • The peak age for violent behavior is not age 20, but age three - with many implications for violence prevention and intervention policies.
  • The predictors of early and persistent violence are epigenetic as well as genetic, which means that they can be changed rather than accepted as inevitable.
  • These predictors cannot be ignored, as demonstrated by the increased risk of violence he found among Montreal children who went to preschool at age 4 after suffering traumas at birth, compared to children with similar traumas who did not attend preschool.
  • Using the same predictors to select children for intensive support at age 7 to 9 resulted in a 34% reduction in criminal records by age 24, compared to highly aggressive children who were not selected for an intensive program for the children, their parents and teachers.

All of these, and other, important findings come from carefully executed studies using highly precise theoretical formulations. The intervention experiments include well-documented implementation of program elements, many with large sample sizes.

Tremblay’s first longitudinal-experimental study began in 1984, when behaviour ratings of 6-year-old male pupils, were obtained from 87% of the kindergarten teachers in 53 schools in areas of low socio-economic status in Montreal, for a total of 1161 boys, of whom 895 met the criteria for a homogeneous, French-speaking sample.

The life course study of violent conduct from age 1.5 was based on a population sample (N = 2223) representing 5-month-olds in the province of Québec in the fall of 1997 and the spring of 1998. His genetic and epigenetic studies include careful comparisons between behavioural similarities of identical vs. fraternal twins, as well as studies of DNA methylation and brain development. His matched sample comparisons between children who did or did not attend pre-school were comprehensively examined for confounding differences, while his randomized controlled trial of the prevention program for high-risk seven-year-olds was thoroughly documented as to how much of the program was delivered to children, parents and teachers.

Tremblay’s findings offer substantial opportunities to invest in highly focused policies providing the most support to the parents and children in the greatest need of it. His leadership of colleagues in a wide range fields has produced publications in journals in pediatrics, psychiatry, psychology, neuroscience, genetics, epigenetics, economics, sociology, statistics, education, hypertension, endocrinology, and public health, as well as in criminology. His breadth of conceptual frameworks for a highly focused research agenda provides an exemplar for younger researchers who wish to develop and test more effective programs. His record shows that such practical applications do not require that basic science be abandoned. Instead, the Jury concluded, Tremblay’s work shows how applied testing can help to improve evidence and theory for basic science.

About Richard E. Tremblay

Richard E. Tremblay was born in Quebec Province in Canada in 1944. He earned a B.A. in physical education in 1966 from the University of Ottawa, an M.Sc. in psycho-education from the University of Montreal in 1970, and a Ph.D. in psychology from University College, London in 1976 in the psychology of education.

He taught for most of his career at the University of Montreal, where he is Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics, Psychiatry and Psychology and has held the Canada Research Chair.

Since 2007 he is also Professor of Early Childhood and Human Development at the School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science, University College Dublin, Ireland.

His many honours include his election as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Royal Society of Canada, Academy of Experimental Criminology, the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, the Canadian Psychological Association, as well as awards from the American Society of Criminology and the International Society for Research on Aggression. His work has received over 40,000 citations in peer-reviewed journals indexed by Google Scholar.

About The Stockholm Prize in Criminology

The Stockholm Prize in Criminology 2017 Announcement