FORENSICS - Cognitive explanation for offending

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  • Kohlberg's psychological explanation for offending
    • General
      • disobeying law for a higher cause -> pushing person in front of train to save 5 people
      • used moral dilemmas to judge the level a person was at based on their reasoning
      • why do some people feel they must obey the law while others believe that there is a higher law?
        • some countries, (US) are founded through illegal acts - rebellion / revolution
    • Stages of moral development
      • preconventional morality (consideration of self)
        • punishment stage - if punishment = not clear, crime is more likely to occur
        • personal reward orientation - what their is to gain from the behaviour
      • conventional morality (consid of society)
        • good-boy/girl stage - what other people will think
        • law and order stage - obedience to the law / is act illegal?
      • post conventional morality
        • social contract stage - person adheres to law but may commit crime in certain circumstances where they feel law should not apply
        • ethical principle stage - person has own moral code - may commit crime if law is unjust
    • Application to offending (cognitive distortions)
      • Minimalisation
        • downplays criminal behaviour of offender - help them deal with guilt
        • self-deception -> offender doesn't accept full reality of what they have done
        • DOWNPLAYS: effect of crime, trivialising the acts, attributing the blame to victim
        • Research
          • ALVARO & GIBBS ('96) - strong relationship between antisocial behav and minimal in anti-social teenagers
          • KENNEDY & GRUBIN (2006) - sex offenders in study -> 33% denied involvement, 25% claimed the victim benefited from abuse
        • Evaluation (A03)
          • relationship between amount of minimal used and level of offending behaviour
          • coping strategy after crime has been committed -> by downplaying crime, reoffending rate increases
          • diff levels of minimal used for different types of crimes (common with sex offences)
      • Hostile attribution bias
        • assumption that others' actions are in someway a negative reaction to the self
        • cues from behaviour are misinterpreted -> leads to hostile response (act aggressive act)
        • HAB related to impulsive aggressive acts (not premeditated acts)
        • measured using hypothetical vignettes - individ says how angry they would feel in that situation
        • Research
          • GUDJONSSON ('84) - measured: extent to how criminals blames circumstances to environment, mental illness / lack of self-control and if they feel guilt / remorse. Found- offenders differ depending on the type of crime committed
          • CRICK & DODGE ('94) - found link between HAB and aggression in children and adolescents in hypothetical situations
          • HUTCHINSON ('93) - men who had been convicted for doestic violence rated the woman's behaviour as hostile and negative towards man in vignettes of difficult marital situations
        • Evaluation (A03)
          • research to support link between HAB  and aggression -> precursor of aggressive behaviour in children
          • use of hypothetical situations -> could lack predictive validity (answer given may not be response used)
          • HAB can't be used to explain all crim.behav. Linked to impulsive but not premeditated acts (factor but not full explanation)
    • Evaluation (A03) of the theory
      • lower levels of moral reasoning may be associated with more violent crimes - CHEN & HOWITT - 330 Taiwanese males (12-18) - those who showed more advance reasoning were less likely to be involved in violent crimes
      • offenders may apply different standards of moral reasoning to their crime compared with other context - ASHKAR - sex and non-sex offenders both showed pre-con level of reasoning but showed higher conven levels in a context unrelated to their crimes
      • sample - only used males (gender bias) not generalisable to women
      • methodology = flawed - questionnaires - social desirability bias - people will make themselves look better
      • real world app: Israeli children raised on kibbutzim were more morally advanced - suggests belonging to group and being involved in moral judgements facilitated moral development
        • cluster schools -> one in prison, allowed people to resolve disputes - encouraged moral develop
      • females - scored a full scale below same aged males - 'good-girl orientation' - suggests women have lower moral develop than men so they should be more criminal BUT there are more men in justice system
      • GILLIGAN - moral 'voice' - males = justice orientation (what's fair), female = care orientation (what makes people happy)


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