Forensic

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Introduction

Lombrosso suggested that criminals typically had a narrow, sloping forehead, prominant eye ridges, large ears and a protruding chin.

Sheldon proposed the idea of somatotypes - classifying people according to their body types. He linked body type to criminality, suggesting that muscular aggressive mesomorphs were most likely to have criminal tendencies unlike thin, introverted ectomorphs and fat, socialable endomorphs.

Both of these are biological theories in that they suggest the existence of some underlying biological trait that in some way led to criminal behaviour. Modern theories consider personality traits instead of physical appearance such as impulsivity or psychoticism - both of which have been linked to criminality.

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Approaches to Profiling - US approach

Description; Research conducted on 36 serial killers was used to create a classification system; two types of murder - organised and disorganised, 4 types of R - power assertive, power reassurance, anger excitement and anger retalitory; analysis of the crime scene indicates the type of offender and so helps with classification; this approach is driven from above by the crime scene analysis which then in turn helps to produce a crime reconstruction and profile generation; there are 4 stages - Data assimilation is the collecting of data from all sources, Crime scene classification is when the typology is applied, Crime reconstruction is the creation of a hypothesis aboout what happened and finally Profile generation is when age, gender and ethnicity are generated.

Evaluation; This approach has limited use as it is limited to crimes that have significant evidence for example murders or R; Douglas reviewed cost and benefits for profiling in the FBI and found that profiling rarely led directly to the offender (15/192 cases) but in 77% of the cases it helped to focus the investigation Canter et al analysed evidence from 100 murders and found no distinct characteristics for organised and disorganised murders this was later ammended by Holmes and Holmes into 5 classifications - disorganised, mission, hedonistic, lust and organised; Canter used Smallest Space Analysis to analyse 100 murders and found that the features for power/control killings were found in over half the murders in the sample and so is typical of most murders and not a distinct type.

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Approaches to Profiling - British approach

Description; Assumes that individuals are consistent in their personalities, for example, this suggested that the way criminals act at the crime scene will reflect the way they act in everyday life; statistical techniques are used in the UK approach for example apologising for R is not normal and so a number of assualts with this in common may have been committed by the same person; Davies et al found that R who conceal their fingerprints have usually been caught for B; the UK system builds a profile from crime scene information which is why it is a bottom-up approach; the UK approach uses Smallest Space Analysis using data from many incidents they pick out the most useful/unusual trends to create a profile.

Evaluation; House showed that using SSA different types of R could be identified from characteristics at the crime scene and similarly Santtila et al found consistent patterns in juvenile A; Britton sent out questionnaires to CID cheifs who reported that profiles were neither accurate nor contributed to arrests; however Copson found that police officers felt it was useful, more than half said it added something extra, 80% said the information had been useful, only 14% said that it had helped solve the case and less than 3% said it resulted in the identification of the criminal; Canter used profiling to correctly identfiy/led to the arrest of John Duffy, the Railway R.

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Decision making of Juries - social

Majority influence; Asch showed that the minority will more than likely conform to the majorities; Hastie et al found that jury's final verdict reflected the view held by the majority of jurors prior to deliberation (86% innocent, 90% guilty), this effect arises because an individual whose opinion differs from the majorities conforms from Normative (acceptance) or Informational (believing they know better) influences; majority conformation is due to - deeper discussions, varied opinions, greater confidence. Evaluation; Stasser and Stweart gave all participants information and some information only to an individual, even when asked to dicuss all information the minority was ignored; Myers and Kaplan found that if cases weren't discussed there was no oppurtunity for majority influence and so punishment was less harsh.

Minority influence; may be even more influential than majority influence because it makes the majority question their opinions; Moscovici et al demonstrated the power of the minority in a similar procedure to Asch in a group of 6 if the 2 confederates gave the incorrect answer then so did the participants; as well as this in 12 angry men we see the minority influence changing the opinions of the majority as the one person who did no believe he was guilty consistently argued that and the majority slowly changed their opinions too. Evaluation; attribution theory says that the minorities behaviour is seen as internal/dispositional as they are motivated by a deep conviction; large minorities have a greater effect than lone dissenter and increasing numbers have a greater effect; Nemeth found no influence of the minority on the majority.

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Decision making of Juries - characteristics

Ethnicity; Duncan varied the ethnic group of the perpetrator and the victim in a videotape of a potentially violent situation, participants judged an ambiguous shove from a black person as more violent; Pfiefer and Ogloff found white participants were more likely to judge a black defendant as guilty in a R case than a white defendant, especially when the victim was white but when asked to justify the effect disappeared and stereotyping was apparent; Baldwin and McConville found that black defendants were more likely to be wrongly convicted even if the members of the jury were black. Evaluation; Feingold found no overall effect of ethnicity on mock jurors, although punishment was; Gordon found blacks were given longer sentences for burglary but vice versa for fraud; Johnson found white participants make situational attributions.

Physical Attractiveness; attractive men were seen as less likely to commit murder or robbery; mock jurys recommend harsher punishments for unattractive burglars; Halo Effect is strongest for women who committed serious but non-fatal crimes but this is lost if the good looks are used to con people; attractiveness seems to be irrelevant when imposing fines or setting bail. Evaluation; Sigall and Ostrove found that unattractive defendants in a mock situation were given longer sentences for burglary but vice versa for fraud; female jurors typically treat attractive defendants more leniently than males do but this can be criticised for not being entirely realistic; Bull and McAlpine suggested that publlication bias is reflected as studies finding no effect on judements made tend not to be published.

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Theories of Crime - Biological

Family Patterns; Osborn and West found that only 13% of sons with non-criminal fathers had convictions whereas 20% of sons with criminal fathers had convictions, adoption studies have helped us to see whether this is genetic or environmental, studies have found that the biological parents have more influence. Genes; Retz et al found a gene which is associated with violent behaviour; NOS1 gene has been linked to aggression in animals which led to the finding of the link between an NOS1 variant and impulsivity. Hormones and Neurotransmitters; Dabbs et al found male and female prisoners who committed violent crimes had higher testosterone levels; low serotonin turnover is linked to aggressiveness; Virkunnen et al found low serotonin turnover in violoent offenders and were more likely to reoffend.

Evaluation; Bohman found that 12% of sons with a criminal record had a biological parent who was a criminal, compared with 7% who had an adoptive parent who was a criminal; Retz et al identified the gene which controls aspects of serotonin processing so such a link could exist for aggressive and impulsive behaviours; Moeller et al showed that men on an unbalanced diet became more aggressive soon after eating; Brunner et al studied an aggressive Dutch family and found that their behaviour was linked to a mutation of the gene for monoamine oxidase type-A which helps recycle serotonin; other factors such as environment and diet also matter as the 'criminal genes' is not a complete explanation and other factors are involved however more genes may be discovered; twin studies show that parenting plays a big role in juvenile crime rates.

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Theories of Crime - Psychological and Social

Self-fulfilling Prophecy; negative expectations cause individuals to behave towards others in ways that elicit criminal behaviour because their stereotypes change their social interactions; if someone can tell they are being treated differently then they will begin to act in the way they are expected to eg. new student looks sly so others hide things from her, so she steals them; SFP also explain recidivism as the image of criminal is hard to shift thus becoming part of their self-concept and producing further deviant behaviour. Evaluation; Jahoda studied Ashanti people who give boys names based on the day they were born and how they are expected to act - 13.5% of criminals were 'Wednesday' boys (22% of violent crimes) and 6.9% were 'Monday' boys; Madon et al assessed mothers expectations of underage drinking and found children acted up to how they thought of them this could just be that the mothers are very good at judging their children.

Social Learning Theory; children who's parents are criminals are likely to be surrounded by other criminals and are likely to be internally and externally motivated to imitate their behaviour for example through vicarious reinforcement; individuals with low self-esteem are more likely to imitate as this is associated with criminal behaviour. Evaluation; Bandura may not represent criminal behaviour in real life; Eron et al found a positive correlation between the level of violence viewed by children on TV and aggressiveness - stronger in boys, by adulthood they were more likely to be violent criminals; watershed has been implemented to limit the amount of violence children see; Bandura said that girls are more likely to imitate verbal aggression.

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Factors affecting EWT (1)

Reconstructive memory; Bartlett proposed that we store memories and reconstruct them when they are needed which leads to innaccuracy in our recall; memories are made using a pre-made schema - recognising things based on what we have already seen or learned; Carmichael et al gave pictures with labels of what they actually were and pictures with labels of what they arent - found that recall was affected by the lavel given; stereotypes are simplistic schema we have about a group of people or an ethnic group. Evaluation; research has shown that not only recall but comprehension and storage are also affected; Loftus and Palmer showed that EWT was unreliable especially when leading questions were used they also showed that post event information changed the original memory; Tuckey and Brewer found people recall bank robbers based on their own stereotypes however counter-stereotype information was also remembered.

Face recognition; EW's are often required to identify criminals at the crime scene; cross-race effect says that we are poor at recognising faces from races other than our own; hairline and outline of the face were more important in unfamiliar faces whereas eyes are important for familiar ones; masking the nose makes gender recognition difficult; we recognise faces based on configuration. Evaluation; Buckhout staged a purse theft and conducted 2 line-ups with 52 participants only 7 were correct on both cases; we confuse where we have seen faces and may incorrectly accuse guilt; Ellis et al found 12.5% accuracy when using face reconstructions however these can be very inaccurate if they are configured slightly incorrectly.

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Factors affecting EWT (2)

Attributional bias; eyewitnesses tend to commit fundamental attribution errors by tending to assume that a persons 'criminal' behaviour is in their nature rather than being a consquence of circumstances; we tend to make situational attributions about our own behaviour and dispositional about other people behaviour - actor-observer error; witnesses recall will not be objective because of the dispositional error. Evaluation; Barjonet found that people tended to believe that car accidents were due to driver error (dispositional) rather than driving conditions; Walster found that if a car rolled down a hill causing a little damage, situational eplanations were given whereas if there was a lot of damage, dispositional explanations were made. 

Role of emotion; emotion levels can either improve or reduce recall levels; Yerkes-Dodson law says that performance improves with arousal up to a point but higher arousal then reduces performance; Loftus et al proposed the weapon effect which suggests that when a weapon is seen the witness tends to focus on it because it is frightening. Evaluation; Deffenbacher et al conducted a meta-analysis on studies looking into the role of emotion in EWT and found that higher stress levels have a negative impact on accuracy; Christianson et al found that witnesses to real bank robberies who had been threatened had better recall than onlookers who were not involved; Johnson and Scott found that people who saw a man carrying a knife covered in blood remembered his face less well than those who saw the same man carrying a pen covered in grease.

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Treatment and Punishment of Crime (1)

Cognitive therapy; aim to identify and correct cognitive deficits which lead to criminal behaviour; the frist step is to help the offender identify the problem and then help to change their thinking; Enhanced Thinking Skills (ETS) is a 40 hour program using skills such as learning to think before acting, group exercises and role play demonstrate the value of stopping and thinking to help understand consequences; Reasoning and Rehabilitation (R&R) teaches sub-skills such as reasoning and social skills required for social behaviour, modules include problem solving, social skills, negotiation skills, management of emotion, creative thinking and critical reasoning. 

Evaluation; strengths - change thinking patterns and has lasting effects on reducing recidivism, male offenders in treatment groups reoffended less than controls, Cann et al found ETS was effective but R&R was not; reduced reconviction only applies to those who complete the course, non-completers are more likely than controls to reoffend; courses work best with medium - high risk offenders because they're offending may be due to thinking; Cann et al found the results only lasted two years after release and was then lost; the programs have high gender bias as they were meeant for use on male prisoners, programmes with women have not reduced recidivism, findings may be due to the content of the course not being changed however it could be due to the absence of cognitive deficits in women as the samples were all low risk individuals (Cann et al).

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Treatment and Punishment of Crime (2)

Behavioural Therapy; operant conditioning underlies token economy, a treatment used to improve the behaviour of people in prison; uses positive reinforcement with tokens to reinforce desirable, non-violent behaviours; tokens are given immediately and consistently for clear defined behaviours; tokens are saved and exchanged for goods such as cigarettes or watching TV; punishment such as isolation is used to reduce violent behaviours; shaping is the reinforcement of approximated behaviours such as initially being given tokens for being polite and later only for being helpful; tokens are given by staff and accompanied by praise in the hope that the praise will eventually replace the tokens as a source of reinforcement. 

Evaluation; Bassett and Blanchard observed one three month program which failed due to misuse of the tokens, later shown to work when they were used correctly; Jenkins et al found that there was no significant difference between tokens and cognitve therapies in 18 month study of young male offenders however found that token economy had the lowest percentage of reoffenders in the last 9 months of the study; meta-analysis found for Ms cognitive therapy was more efficient than behavioural; behavioural therapy has been largely replaced by cognitive so that it targets the cause of the behaiour; token economy only works if inmates are motivated to collect tokens, in reality powerful prisoners offer high status to other prisoners and punishment such as bullyinig and so have more power than the wardens.

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Treatment and Punishment of Crime (3)

Zero-tolerance approach; Kelling and Wilson found that a neighbourhood could degenerate if just one broken window is left unrepaired because it creates a social norm, once it is established other windows are broken and gradually there is a downward spiral into vandalism and street crime; a zero-tolerance policy suggests that this downward spiral of crime can be avoided by tackling minor crime at the outset to prevent escalation of crime rates and the seriousness of offences; William Bratton (NYPD) dealt wiht endemic serious crime with a zero-tolerance policy which targetted minor crimes using 7000 extra police officers, in 3 years crime rates dropped by 37% and homocides by over 50%.

Evaluation; it is hard to see whether the changes in NY were due to the zero-tolerance policy or due to the large increase in the numbers of police; a reduction in drug use could have accounted for the reduction in criminality as could economic growth as crime rates fell all over the USA; Pollard criticised NYPD for being to harsh by cracking down on non-criminal acitivities such as drinking, potentially alienating the community and could be detrimental to long-term policing; Ulmer et al assessed the effect of zero-tolerance towards road traffic offences there was a 9% decrease in accidents is convincing that zero-tolerance works; Bachman et al found that drug use in the US army fell following the zero-tolerance policy implimentation but did not fall in civilians, this excludes cultural influences for example social norms that could have affected rates of drug use.

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