Criminal thinking patterns

- Morality and crime

- social cognition and crime

- Rationality and choice

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  • Created by: joshua
  • Created on: 19-01-09 20:16


- (Jeffery Dahmer)

- Laurance Kohlberg argued using piaget's model of cognition that morality develops in different ways. he tested using moral dilemmas. interested in reasoning, not answer.

Social cognition and crime: - How do offenders interpret other peoples behaviour and how they process this in social context. Key to thinking errors is lack of empathy.- Attribution. - Attributional biases - Internal & external.

Rationality & choice: if crime is rational - someone leaves phone, you take it - no longer morality.

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Palmer and Holin (1998) - patterns of moral develo

Aim: test development of moral reasoning

Sample: 332 non-offenders: students, 13-22 years - 210 female, 112 male. 126 male offenders: 13-21 years - burglary and car theft.

Method: questionnaire: - asked about socio-economic status and 2 specific measures: - sociomoral reflection measure-short form (SRM-SF) - measures moral reasoning. - Self-reported Delinquency checklist (SRD) - used to see if delinquent and non-delinquent samples were giving different levels of offending behaviour.

Results: SRD successful. offenders had least moral reasoning and mostly at Kohlberg's pre-conventional level. Non-offenders mainly used conventional reasoning. females had a more mature level of moral reasoning.

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Blair, Jones, Clark and Smith (1997) - psychopathi

Aim: Investigate responses of psychopathic individuals to distress cues and threatening/neutral stimuli.

Sample: men serving life for murder/manslaughter. Hare's psychopathy checklist (PCL-R) used to pick 18 psychopaths and 18 non. matched for IQ and ethnicity.

Method: 28 colour slides, 10 practice, 5 distress cues, 5 threatening images, 8 neutral objects. skin conductance activity measured.

Results: psychopaths showed reduced electrodermal responses to distress cues - every thing else the same.

Conclusions: lack of response to distress cues interferes with violence inhibiting mechanism (withdrawalresponse to distress cues). - parents explain to children it's wrong to hurt others.

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Gillis (2002) - understanding employment

Aim: investigate theory of planned behaviour in relation to offenders employment after release from prison

Sample: 106 newly released offenders

Method: Questionnaire on release, 6 weeks later and 6 months later on employment and attitudes towards it.

Results: offenders with clear intention to gain employment more likely to have jobs. offenders who felt they had good chance of getting employment more likely to. offenders with higher levels of social support, or for whom it was important more likely to do so, where as offenders who associated more with individuals involved in crime had lower levels of quality employment.

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