Turning to Crime, Section 1: Upbringing

Revision cards for Forensic Psychology Topic 1: Turning to Crime, Section 1: Upbringing

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Subsection 1: Disrupted Families; Bowlby


Bowlby's Attachment Theory:

1. Babies have a biological need for a warm stable and continuous attatchment with mother/mother substitute

2. The attatchment is monotropic (formed between baby and one person)

3. It develops at around 7 months of age, and has a biologically adaptive mechanism 

4. The critical period for forming a bond is between 7 months and 3 years

5. A child suffering from maternal deprivation can experience short and long-term consequences

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Subsection 1: Disrupted Families; Bowlby - Study

44 thieves study

44 children aged 5-16 years, referred to child guidance clinic for theft, compared with 44 controls.

Matched on IQ, record taken of early life from parents & interviews with child and parents

Matched pairs, opportunity sample, case study.


17 of 44 seperated from mothers for period before age of 5,

2 cases experienced extreme maternal deprivation said to have developed 'affectionless psychopathy'


Maternal deprivation can affect juvenlie delinquency

Application: useful because can closely monitor children with maternal deprivation to prevent crime

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Subsection 2: Learning From Others; Sutherland


Bandura's Social Learning theory  is based on the idea that behaviour is learned from others. It states that there are 4 factors in learing

1. Attentional: the person attends to the important features of the modelled behaviour

2. Retention: the person forms a symbolic representation of the behaviour in their mind

3. Motor reproduction: the person converts this symbolic representation into the appropriate behaviour

4. Motivational: the person considers the modelled behaviour to result in a rewarding outcome

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Subsection 2: Learning From Others; Sutherland

Differential association theory:

1. Criminal beahviour is learned

2. it is learned in interaction with others in a process of communication

3. the principal part of learning ciminial behaviour comes from intimate personal groups

4. when it is learned, it includes the techniques of commiting crime, and the direction of motives, rationalisations and attitudes

5. the direction of motives and drives is learned from defintiions of legal codes as favourable or not

6. people become delinquent because of an excess of definitions favourable to violation of law

7. differential association may vary in frequncey, duration, priority and intensity

8. the process of learning criminal behaviour involves mechanisms presnt in all types of learning

9. it is not solely explained by needs and values, as non-criminals express the same values.

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Subsection 2: Learning From Others; Sutherland


The theory states that criminal beahviour is learnt in the same way as other types of learning, therefore it can be unlearnt or changed to reflect the norms, roles and values as wider society.

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Subsection 3: Poverty; Merton


Poverty can be due to economic factors or social factors (for example Ed Gein). 

Merton's Strain Theory details the responses to the Anomic Paradigm, where in America, all people aspire to achieve the American Dream of having plenty of material goods and wealth. For many, it is not easy to acheive this. Merton therefore came up with the theory to explain the difference between the means (wealth or education) to acheive the goals, and the goals (the American Dream).

Response     Means   Goals    Result

Conformist      yes         yes        uses legitimate means to acheive goal

Innovators       no          yes        uses illegitimate means of achieving goal

Retreatist        no          no          uses illegitimate means of retreating eg. drug use

Ritualist          yes         no          uses legitimate means to acheive scaled-down goals

Rebel            yes/no     yes/no    uses illegitimate/legitimate means to enact social change

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Subsection 3: Poverty; Merton


Doesn't account for white-collar crime, crimes of status eg. vandalism, joyriding etc.

However, provides an explanation of why the working classes may commit material crimes to advance in social structure.


Can be used to provide legitimate opportunity structures to working classes to reduce material crimes

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