Criminal - Turning To Crime





Upbringing - Farrington

Aim: Tosee whether problem families produce problem children

Method: A prospective longitudinal design, collecting data from interviews and criminal records. Boys were interviewed at the age of 8, 10, 14 at school.. 16,18,21 in the researchers office...25,32,48 in their homes.

Parents and guardians were also interviewed on income, employment and the boys personality.
Teachers were also interviewed on the boys behaviour.

Sample: 411 boys from South London, aged 8-9 in 1953. They were followed for 40 years and at the age of 48, there were 394 males still alive, 365 were interviewed.


  • Those who started a criminal career between the ages of 10-13 were nearly all re-convicted at least once.
  • 75% of participants with a convicted parent, were also convicted.
  • 4% of 400 families accounted for 50% of convictions.

Conclusions: Offenders tend to be deviant in many aspects of their lives. The most important risk factors are criminality in the family, poverty and poor school performance.

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Upbringing - Sutherland

1. Criminal behaviour is learnt - Sutherland beliebed that criminal behaviour was not inherited or a result of any other biological condition.
2. Criminal behaviour is learned in interaction with other people in a process of communication - Sutherland believed communication usually involved verbal communication
3. The principle part of the learning of criminal behaviour occurs within intimate personal groups - Sutherland felt that intimate personal groups provided the largest influence on the learning of criminal behaviour
4. When criminal behaviour is learnt, the learning includes the techniques of committing the crime - a criminal has to learn the techniques of the trade from someone.
5. The specific direction of motives and drives is learned from definitions of the legal codes as favourable or unfavourable - groups of people may see certain laws as pointless or discriminatory and therefore feel they can flaunt them
6. A person becomes delinquent because of an excess of definitions favourable to violation of law over definitions unfavourable to violation of law - this is the principle of differential association. Individuals become criminal due to repeated contacts with criminal activity
7. Number of contacts over non-criminals may vary in frequency, duration, priority and intensity
8. The process of learning criminal behaviour by association with criminal and anti-criminal patterns involves all of the mechanisms that are involved in any other learning - criminal behaviour is learnt just like any other
9. While criminal behaviour is an expression of general needs and values, it's not explained by those general needs and values - this behaviour is no different to the work of an honest labourer

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Upbringing - Wilkstrom and Tafel

Aim: To identify the individual and environmental factors that influence an individual to turn to crime.

Method: Self Report questionnaire study on participants. Researchers also gained information from the
1998-99 Census to gain demographic and residential information.

Sample: Nearly 2000 boys and girls, aged 14-15 from 13 Peterborough state schools.

Procedure: From the study, it was found that there were three types of offenders:

1. Propensity induced offenders: These are often poorly adjusted youths that commit crime because it's in their personality, it's their individual character to offend and will often continue doing so.
2. Life-Style Dependent offenders: Averagely adjusted youths- if living a low risk lifestyle, they won't offend but dependent on their lifestyle they might offend.
Situationally Limited: Well adjusted youths who may offend depending on their situation.

High frequency offenders tend to commit a wide range of crimes
38% of youths have partaken in the crimes investigated: Robbery, theft, vandalism, violence. Conclusion: Combination of individual attributes and environmental factors i.e being exposed to a criminogenic environment that influences an individual to turn to crime.

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Cognitive - Kohlberg Stages

Level 1 - Pre Conventional Morality
Stage 1. Obedience and Punishment Orientation. The child/individual is good in order to avoid being punished. If a person is punished they must have done wrong.
Stage 2. Individualism and Exchange. At this stage children recognize that there is not just one right view that is handed down by the authorities. Different individuals have different viewpoints

 Level 2 - Conventional Morality
Stage 3. Good Interpersonal Relationships. The child/individual is good in order to be seen as being a good person by others. Therefore, answers are related to the approval of others.
Stage 4. Maintaining the Social Order. The child/individual becomes aware of the wider rules of society so judgments concern obeying rules in order to uphold the law and to avoid guilt

Level 3 - Post Conventional Morality
Stage 5. Social Contract and Individual Rights. The child/individual becomes aware that while rules/laws might exist for the good of the greatest number, there are times when they will work against the interest of particular individuals.  The issues are not always clear cut. For example, in Heinz’s dilemma the protection of life is more important than breaking the law against stealing.
Stage 6: Universal Principles.  People at this stage have developed their own set of moral guidelines which may or may not fit the law.  The principles apply to everyone.  E.g. human rights, justice and equality.  The person will be prepared to act to defend these principles even if it means going against the rest of society in the process and having to pay the consequences of disapproval and or imprisonment. Kohlberg doubted few people reached this stage.

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Cognitive - Kohlberg

Aim: to find evidence in support of progession through stages of moral development

Method: longitudinal study

Sample: 58 boys from Chicago, aged 7,10,13 and 16

Procedure: each boy was given a 2 hour interview with ten dilemmas they had to solve - including the Heinz dilemma

Results: younger boys tended to perform at stages 1/2 and older boys at stages 3/4 suggesting support for these stages. No supoprt was found for stage 6 in this sample

Conclusion: there is support across cultures for the stage theory. Recent replicants of this study show that criminals committing crime for financial gain show more immature reasoning than those committing violent crimes.

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Cognitive - Yochelson and Samenow

Aim: To understand the make up of the criminal personality.

Design: A longitudinal study using interviews that spanned over a 14 year period. The interviews were based on Freudian therapy techniques which aimed to identify the root cause of the criminal behaviour.

Sample: 255 males from various backgrounds who had been found guilty by reasons of insanity and secured in a mental institution  Yochelson and Samenow were doctors at this hospital. Only 30 of the participants completed the interviews, and only 9 made any significant progress towards rehabilitation.

Findings: Identified 52 thinking patterns that were common in the criminals.
These included:

  • External attribution- they viewed themselves as the victim and blamed others for the situation.
  • Lack of interest in responsible behaviour - see's it as pointless.
  • Closed thinking - not receptive to criticism.

Conclusion: These 'errors' in thinking are not unique to criminals, but were suggested to be displayed more by criminals than law behaving citizens.

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Cognitive - Gudjonsson

Aim: To examine the relationship between type of offence and the attributions offenders make about their criminal act.

Method: using the Gudjonsson and Singh 42 item ‘Blame Attribution Inventory’ (GBAI) to measure the offender’s type of offence and attribution of blame.

Sample: 80 criminals who were serving sentences in Northern Ireland:
20 subjects had committed violent offences including homicide and grievous bodily harm (GBH). Their mean age was 29.
40 sex offenders included rapists and paedophiles and those committing a sexual assault. Their mean ages varied from 41 for the paedophiles down to 28 for the other offenders.
20 had committed property offences including theft and burglary and their mean age was 29.

Results: Those who had committed sexual offences showed the most remorse about their behaviour; this was followed by those who have committed violent acts against the person.
 Those who have committed violent offences have the highest mental element scores on the GBAI, followed by the sex offenders.
With regard to external attribution (blaming others/situation), highest scores were found for violent offenders and lowest for sex offenders.

Conclusion: Offenders attribute blame for their crimes differently according to their type of crime.

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Biology - Raine

Aim: To investigate patterns of brain activity in a group of murderers who pleaded guilty by reason of insanity (NGRI) using PET scanners.

Method: Quasi-Experiment

Sample: 41 murderers who were charged with murder and pleaded NGRI. They were all referred to the center for legal reasons such as schizophrenia, head damage, drug abuse and were given a PET scan.
This was then compared to a group of age, sex matched and the participants with Schizophrenia were matched to a control group of people with schizophrenia.

Procedure: Participants were all injected with a glucose tracer and asked to complete a continual performance task which required participants to press a button every time the number 0 flashed on screen.
They were given a PET scan.

- Less activity in the murderers left regions of: amgydala, hippocampus, prefrontal cortex thalamus. 
- Increased activity in the right regions of those areas.

Conclusion:These areas are all part of the Limbic System which is associated with self control, impulsivity, aggression and emotions. These could lead to an increased risk of committing acts of extreme violence.

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Biology - Brunner

Aim: To document a family from the Netherlands where 5 males exhibited impulsive aggression and borderline mental retardation.

Sample: 5 males from one family, studied due to violent, impulsive aggressive tendencies  These males have been involved in a range of crimes such as arson, attempted **** and exhibitionism.

Procedure: Data was collected from the analysis of urine samples over a 24 hour period.


- Test showed a deficit in the MAOA enzyme
In each of the 5 males, there was a point mutation on the x-chromosome of the gene responsible for the production of MAOA, which in turn is responsible for the production of serotonin.

Conclusion: Impaired serotonin levels is likely to be responsible for the mental retardation and this could be linked with aggressive behaviour and inability for self control.

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Biology - Daly and Wilson

Aim: To find out if homicide rates would vary as a function of life expectancy in Chicago.

Method: A correlation study using data from the police records, school records and local demographic records.

Procedure: Communities in Chicago were studied which had lower than average male life expectancy which was then compared to homicide rates within those areas.


- Negative correlation for life expectancies and homicide rates (The lower the life expectancy, the higher the homicide rate)
Negative correlation between school absentees and life expectancy (Risk taking young men need and outlet and if not supplied by legitimate means, they will find illegitimate means)

Conclusion: Young men from disadvantaged neighbourhoods expect to life shorter lives, they have short term horizons and tend to discount the future. They are more prone to partake is risk taking activities that provide instant gratification.

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