FORENSICS - Eysenck's psychological explanation for offending

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  • Psychological explanation for offending - Eysenck
    • Eysenck
      • E and N measure characteristics of the nervous system
      • E measures central and autonomic arousal level. High E = low arousal. More stimulation needed, harder to successfully condition
      • N measures how strongly n.s reacts to aversive stimuli. Stronger response = emotions change. High N = hard to condition
      • Eysenck added 3rd dimension (P). High scorers = cold, uncaring, solitary, aggressive. Believed P to be genetically determined, linked to testosterone levels
      • criminality rises from high E, N & P
        • E -> seeks more stimuli, may commit a crime to seek thrill, hard to condition
        • N -> emotionally unstable - may act out before thinking, hard to control anger, hard to condition
        • P -> aggressive people, may not realise they are causing harm, will not think about consequences or effect on others, only think about themselevs
    • Evaluation (A03) for Eysenck
      • theory based on self-report with US servicemen. Reliability issues - self-desirability bias, just US servicemen (women?), can't generalise
      • psychologists dispute idea of 'personality'
        • Mischel & Peake ('82) - asked people to rate 63 strangers in variety of situations, found no correlation between traits displayed. Any regularity -> likely due to fact we are often in similar situations
      • questionnaire- reliable? -> responding to demands of the questionnaire. Social desirable answers
      • link between psychoticism and criminality -> Van Dem ('07) - small group of male offenders in detention centre had high scores on 3 of Eysenck's tests
        • Dunlop (2012) -> extraversion and psychoticism = good predictors for delinquency. PPs were all students and their friends (age 15-75), and delinquency was assessment of minor offences in last year.
      • Farrington ('92) -> research depends on the measure used for level of offending behaviour. Caught and convicted criminals = high N and low E, but people who admit (on survey) = low N and high E
      • if genetic - no freewill etc. (implications)
      • Zuckerman - heritability = 40%


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