A2 - G543 Studies - TURNING TO CRIME.

HideShow resource information


Aim: Document life-time span of criminal careers and research influences and risk factors.

Sample: 411 boys, aged 8-9 years old, mostly white working class, from six state schools in East London. 365 re-interviewed at age 48.

Design: Self report - interviews, criminal record searches. Longitduinal survey.

Findings: At age of 48, of 404 individuals - 161 had convictions.

Boys who started offending at 10-13 years old, were nearly all reconvincted at 91%

93% admitted to at least commiting one type of the reported crimes.

Conclusions: 'Persisters' are people who convict before and after their 21st birthday, they're more likely to have: convicted parents, high daring, delinquent siblings, young mother, large family size, low popularity etc.

Risk factors: poor child rearing/school performance, criminality in family, poverty etc. Early prevent can reduce this by improving relationships, education, accomodation.

1 of 17



- It's longitudinal, so you can study criminality over time. Longitudinal studies provide lots of data, this ensures you measure what you intend to and improves validity.

- Uses self report method, interviews give qualitative data, this is rich in detail and increases validity. Also helps to give reasons for the criminality.

- Large sample size, over 400 PPs, making it more representative. Also, has a low attrition rate with 365 still in the study 40 years later.


- The sample is androcentric and ethnocentric, this limits the representativeness so results can not be generalised to all target populations. This limits the studys usefulness.

- In interviews PPs may have been untruthful about criminality due to extraneous variables such as social desirability bias. PPs may have been scared to incriminate themselves.

- Study has temporal validity as it was conducted in the 1950s.

2 of 17


Background: Bandura's Social Learning Theory.

1. Criminal behaviour is learned, not a result of other factors e.g. biological.

2. It's learned via social interaction with peers and others.

3. Principle learning takes place in intimate personal groups, e.g. your friend circle not media

4. Learning includes techniques for the crime, also adopting attitudes towards the crime.

5. Motives influnced by the persons unique defitions of legal codes.

6. Become delinquent when your moral codes favour offending for your needs, than following law.

7. 'Level of criminality' quantified by analysing amount of criminal contacts to non-criminals.

8. Criminal behaviour learnt like any other behaviour is learnt.

9. Criminal behaviour should not be justified by the reason behind commiting the crime. e.g. stealing food due to hunger.

3 of 17


Aim: Test a range of factors, to find the most significant predictors of criminal behaviour.

Method: Self report - Interviews and questionnaires. Data from 1991 consensus.

Design: Cross-sectional study, snapshot.

Sample: Nearly 2000 Year 10 (14-15 yrs) pupils from state shools in Peteborough area.

Findings: 9.8% of males and 3.8% of females commited a serious theft crime.

44.8% males, 30.6% females commited at least one of the studied crimes.

Conclusions: High freq. offenders commited a wide range of crimes, often drink and use drugs more than non-offending youths.

Youths with risk factors tend to offend frequently. Risk factors include: weak family/school bonds, poor parental monitoring, truancy, disadvantaged neighborhoods etc.

Three types of offenders: propensity-induced, lifestyle-dependant and situationally-limited.

4 of 17



- Uses a large sample of 2000 PPs, both male and female, This makes it representative, and therefore can be generalised to a larger population.

- Snapshot allows for low attrition rate, this makes the study more replicable - therefore reliable.

- Uses quantitative data, easy to analyse and compare. More valid as it's objective and scientific.


- Sample only used 14-15 year olds, and is ethnocentric to Peteborough area. Which limits the generalisiblity of the results.

- Cross sectional studies can be low in reliability, which devalues findings of the study in real life situations.

- S-R can be low in validity due to ext. variables such as PPs lying, demand characteristics or socially desirably biased answers.

5 of 17


Aim: To investigate criminal thinking patterns. (Changed to this after PPs exerted SDB in an attempt to improve their situations.)

Method: Self report - series of interviews over years.

Design: Longitudinal, Freudian Based Therapy - designed to find root of problem and treat it.

Sample: 255 New York convicted offending males, various backgrounds. Half confined to hospital on insanity verdicts. Half not confined to a hospital.

Findings: High attrition rate, only 30 completed the programme with 9 seeing a genuine change. 

Found criminals to be restless, dissatisfied, irritable, isolated from others, habitually angry, lack of empathy, thrill-seeking, poor-decision making, selfishly fulfills own needs, pre-judged situations.

Conclusions: 52 thinking patterns were distinguished to the criminal mind, considered as ''errors'' in thinking. They are usually displayed more often in criminals, but not limited to them.

6 of 17



- Self report method, only way to study cognition and criminal thinking patterns. Useful to psychology and can be applied to real life.

- Longitudinal study offers qualitative data, rich in depth and detail - help to explain thought proccesses of criminals. This can lead to ways of rehabilitating it.


- Based on Freudian techniques, which are subjective, unscientfic and are uncredible. More reliable measures such as standardised psychometric tests could've been used.

- The issue of extraneous variables tainting the validity, PPs answered in a SBD manner etc. in order to shorten sentences or try to get parole etc.

- High attrition rate, reduces both validity and reliability. Sample size shortened to 30, which is very unrepresentative so thought patterns can't be generalised to a wider population. Alsom ethnocentric.

7 of 17


Background: Piaget's stages of development.

Aim: To find evidence in support of the progression through the stages of moral development.

The stages: Pre-morality, Coventional morality, Post-morality - each with two stages.

Sample: 72 Chicagoan boys, working/middle class, aged 7, 10, 13, and 16.

Design: Longitudinal study.                             Method: Self report; interviews.

Procedure: Each boy was given a two hour interview, involving ten dilemmas they had to solve. Including the famous Heinz Dilemma, some of them re-interviewed at 3 yearly intervals up to 30-36 yrs old.

Findings: Younger boys tend to perform at stages 1 + 2, older boys at 3 + 4, suggesting support for progression through stages. Patterns were consistent in cross-cultural studies, however slower in non-industrialised societies. No support found for stage 6.

Conclusions: His stages were supported across countries, applies to types of criminality.

8 of 17



- Longitudinal study, over 20 years, can study moral development over time and provide support for the theory of progression.

- Standardised procedure for all PPs, this makes it more replicable and therefore reliable. The environment was controlled for limitation of extraneous variables.

- Cross cultural studies gives it concurrent validity and generalisibality to TP.


- Studys usefulness limited because of the issue of temporal validity, it took place in 1960s and many factors could change the progression of moral development now.

- Extraneous variables may affect validity as children may answer in any way, SDB, or believe a different answer is needed due to repeatedly having to do the interview.

- Longitudinal study is time and cost-effective, making it harder to repeat in modern day, this reduces reliability.

9 of 17


Aim: Examine r/ship between offence and attribution offenders make about the criminal act and cross validate earlier findings on an English sample.

Sample: 80 criminals, serving sentences in N. Ireland.

Method: Self report using GBAI (42 item inventory of blame attribution) to measure the association between the crime and blame attribution for it.

Procedure: Sample split in to 20, 20 and 40.

G1 - Homicide and GBH offenders, mean age of 29.                                                             G2 - Sexoffenders, mean age of 41 for paedophiles and 28 for others.                                     G3 - Property offenders, mean age of 29.

Findings: G2 showed most remorse, followed by those who'd commited violent acts on others. Violent offenders had the highest mental element scores on GBAI, then sex offenders. Sex offenders had internal BA, violent offenders had high external BA.

Conclusion: Strong consistency with English study, Irish prisoners showed lower mental element, less guilt and higher external BA scores.

10 of 17



- The strong consistency found between the cross-cultural studies provides concurrent validity.

- Self report method allows you to explain/understand how criminals attribute blame. This is useful and has real life applications.

-  The interviews and questionnaires provide qualitative data, this improves validity as it is detailed and provides reasons for 'why'


- With all S-R studies, the issue of ext variables such as DC, SDB exist and can decrease the validity of the findings. 

- Sample still lacks representativeness, as it is androcentric and limited to England and N.Ireland so can not be generalised to TP.

11 of 17


Aim: Multi-factorial approach to understanding anti-social/agressive behaviour in children with a biological primary focus.

Method: Review article.

Procedure: Using articles on neuropsycholoigcal, neurological & brain imaging studies to report relevant findings of anti-social behaviour through a child's development.

Findings: Low resting heart rate = good predictor of an individual who will seek thrill.

The adolescent brain is still forming final connection in pre-frontal lobe up to 20s, activity here is linked to be lower in anti-social and aggressive indviduals. This can explain why offending peaks during adolesence.

Birth complications, poor parenting, physical abuse, malnutrition, unhealthy pregnancy can add to the risk.

Conclusions: Early health intervention and prevention may be the most effective way of reversing biological deficits that predispose a person to anti social and aggressive behaviour.

12 of 17


+/- Multi-factorial approach makes it a more holistic study, however it is still reductionist because only sub factors with in biology are explored.


- As a review article, it adds to and supports exisiting data - giving it concurrent validity and strengthening findings.

- The method is time and cost effective, easy to replicate, increasing reliability.

- Useful as it collates data in one place, of different perspectives and approaches.


- Researcher bias, could make it subjective to what data is chosen to include and discard. This will make it lack validity and reliability.

- Uses retrospective data, raising the issue of temporal validity - especially since science and technology has since advanced.

13 of 17


Aim: Explain behaviour of males in a large family in Netherlands, affected by a syndrome of borderline mental retardation and abnormally violent behaviour.

Method: Quasi experiment.

Sample: 5 males from said family. Involved in arson, attempted ****, exhibitionism and impulsive rage.

Procedure: Data collected from analysis or urine samples over 24 hour period.

Results: Deficit of MAOA enzyme found, point mutation of X chromosomes responsible for MAOA production.

MAOA is involved in serotonin metabolism, serotonin is responsible for amendment of mood, anger and aggression.

Conclusion: Inability to regulate their aggression is a result of the MAOA deficiency, which is linked to a behavioural phenotype known for this.

14 of 17



- Data is collected through biological samples, which is very scientific and objective. This improves validity and relaibility of study. Helps psychology as a social science & falsifiable.

- Quasi experiment, allows you to research abnormal minorities.

- It is useful, in raising awareness of biological reasoning for a persons behaviour. Helps towards treatments, therapy, medication etc.


- No control group, to use as baseline data and compare to. This is an extraneous variable of individual differences, reducing validity. No clear cause and effect.

- Sample size is small, androcentric, ethnocentric and limited to one family (could be a result of social factors such as childhood). Lacks representativeness, can't be generalised to all others with the MAOA deficiency.                                 

- Reductionist, only looks at biology.

15 of 17


Aim: Find out if homicide rates vary as a result of life expectancy in areas of Chicago.

Method: Correlational study using survey data from police records, school records, consensus and demographic records.

Procedure: Chicago is split in to 77 longstanding communities. The communities examined were ones where males had a life expectancy lower than avg, from 55.4-77.4 yrs olds. Correlations were plotted using this data.

Results: Strong negative correlations between:

Truancy rates & life expectancy                                                                                               Neighborhood-specific homicide rates & life expectancy                                                             Neighborhood-specific absenteeism from school & life expectancy.

Conclusion: Possibility that men from these areas discount their future, expecting to live shorter lives, therefore take part in risk taking behaviour, leading to criminality. Parents are unwilling to invest in child's education by enforcing attendance.

16 of 17



- Correlations are good for comparison, analysing and spotting trends. They are scientific, objective and give quantitative data. Which is both reliable and valid.

- Useful, has practical life applications by spotting risk factors early and preventing them.

- Attempts at being holistic.


- Still restricted by reductionism, looking mainly at social factors.

- Sample is androcentric and ethnocentric, so can not be generalised to a wider TP.

- No comparison, control or baseline groups such as the other communities in Chicago.

- Correlations can not provide clear cause and affect, can lack validity because of this.

17 of 17


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Criminological and Forensic Psychology resources »