Describe any research which suggests that a person’s moral judgement has an influence on their turn to crime.

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Turning to crime
Cognition
Describe any research which suggests that a person's moral judgement has an influence on their turn to crime.
Wikstom and Tafel identified that poor moral reasoning was an individual risk-factor for turning to criminality and
Hare identified that a lack of morality and empathy were characteristics of psychopaths, who are hugely
over-represented in prisons. This suggests that psychopathy and the lack of morality which accompanies
psychopathic behaviour, is a risk-factor for turning to crime.
Kohlberg conducted longitudinal research on a group of boys, most of whom he interviewed every three years until
they were 36. His aim was to establish that morality develops through stages and is linked to cognitive development.
He gave his participants a number of "moral dilemmas" with a number of options; however the "morally correct"
answer was ambiguous. He interviewed the participants to establish what they would do, and most importantly, why
they chose to do it.
He concluded that morality progresses through stages which are dependent upon cognition. He proposed that the
first stage of morality is "pre-conventional morality"-doing what is right or wrong based upon personal gain or fear
of punishment. The next stage is moral development was "conventional morality"- doing what is right according to
the majority and because the law must be obeyed. "Post conventional morality" is the most sophisticated level of
morality which states that decisions will be made based upon feelings of equality and justice, even if this means going
against the majority or authority.
Kohlberg would state that the reason psychologists such a Wikstom and Tafel identify low morality as a criminal
risk-factor is because criminals may be morally undeveloped. Kohlberg's model of morality would place criminals at
the "pre-conventional" stage, meaning that they base their moral judgements around personal gain rather than
considering justice and equality. They may also base their decisions around whether or not they are likely to get
caught and punished. Palmer and Hollin identify that criminals tend to be overly-optimistic about their changes of
being caught, which may explain why some people decide to commit crime even though it is immoral.

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