Forensic Criminology - Upbringing

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  • Created on: 08-01-14 20:17

Turning to crime - upbringing

Over time, some psychologists have suggested that there is a significant link between a child's upbringing and their likelyhood of conducting criminal behaviours. Such suggestions have been taken even further with the suggestion that there is a gene that can be linked to crime. 

The questions we need to ask:

-What is the evidence for each of these theories?

-Are there any flaws in the evidence and thus how does this affect the theory?

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The Farrington Study

The Farrington study is a great example of research conducted to investigate the effects of upbringing in 'disrupted families' and lower class backgrounds on the likelyhood of an individual becoming a criminal. 
Farrington 2006.
Aim- To document the start, duration and end of offending behavour from childhood to adulthood. To investigate the risk and protective factors predicting offending and antisocial behaviour, and the influence of family back ground. 
Sample- The study was based on 400 boys growing up in London in the 1950's, attending state schools and all white working class. 75 of these boys were from permanently 'disrupted' families.
Design - A longitudinal case study, investigating correlation. Self report.
Procedure - Pps were identified according to risk of becoming an offender and followed through 40 years to observe the outcome. 75 boys who came from permanently disrupted families were compared to boys who came from 'normal' families.
Results - Deliquency rates were higher among the 75 boys who came from disrupted families. THe following factors were significant in making someone a criminal: Criminality in the family, large family size, having a young mother, poverty and poor parenting.
Evaluation -  Correlational data which does not prove cause and effect and does not consider other factors (reductionist), biased so sample so generalisations cannot be made,self report often leads to demand characteristics so data is not valid. 

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Wilkstrom and Tafel

The Wilkstrom and Tafel study is mainly used to support the conclusions found in the Farrington study, as there is not much depth to the investigation. The researchers set out to find out to what extent poverty and social disadvantaged neighborhoods contributed to criminal behaviours. Just as in the Farrington study, the results showed a correlation between poor backgrounds and the likely hood of an individual turning criminal. 

However, due to the fact both of these studies are based on correlational research it means that other factors for someone turning criminal cannot be ruled out.  

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Turning to crime - upbringing

The Bandura study uses a slightly different explanation for turning to crime using an experimental technique. Bandura suggested that role models influenced the behaviour of an individual, and so if a good role model was used then a child would immitate good behaviour, vice versa.
Area of Psychology - Developmental
Design- Matched pairs design. Lab experiment.
Aim- To investigate the effects of role modelling on the behaviour of a child.
Sample- 36 boys and 36 girls aged between 37-69 months.
Method-  Control groups -24 subjects, Aggressive role model - 24, Non-aggressive role model- 24 split into groups of same sex role model and opposite sex role model. Role model was either quiet and played stacking toys or was loud and aggressive and 'beat up' the Bobo doll. The child was subjected to 'mild anger arousal' where they were shown toys but told they were not allowed to play with them. The children were then taken to another room where there was a Bobo doll and their reactions were observed. 
Results - Children in the aggressive model were more aggressive to the bobo doll than those who were not. Boys were more aggressive than girls. The children tended to follow the behaviour of the same sex model rather than the opposite sex.
Thus this study shows how an aggressive role model in upbringing can lead to aggressive/criminal behaviour.  

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Caspi and Moffit et al.

The Caspi and Moffit study suggests that both nature and nerture contributes to our likelyhood of being a criminal, so it is the opposite of reductionist as it takes in several different factors. 
Caspi and Moffit et al  
To investigate the impact of both nature and nerture on the tendency of individuals to commit crime. 
Design - Natural experiment/correlation using multi-variable analysis.
Sample- 1000 men born in New Zealand in years 1972-1975.
Procedure: Men's life history and genetic profile compared to their history of offending. 
Results and conclusions:   Of men who offended, two groups were classified. These were life course persistent offenders and adolescent limited offenders. Adolescence limited offenders had poor life experiences but the life course persistent tended to have a combination of genetic and environmental factors that could be responsible for the vast majority of crime. 
Evaluation: This study is holistic as it suggests both nature and nerture are responsible for crime in an individual. Also, multi-variable analysis means that unlike normal correlational experiments cause and effect can be established here, so there is a link, if only casual, between upbrining/genetics and likelyhood of an individual to offend.  

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The Bohman Study

The Bohman study wanted to investigate whether there was a connection between genetic make up and the likelyhood of someone becoming a criminal, so they investigated the relationship between adopted children, their adopted parent's criminal records and their biological parents, in search of a correlation.

Bohman 1995.

Aim - To investigate the rates of criminal conviction in adopted children.

Results and Conclusions:

                                Adopt.Parents had crim record             Adopt. parents had no crim record

Biol parents had                     40%                                                       12%
crim record 

Biol parents had no                7%                                                     3%
crim record 
-Once again suggests nature and nerture are accountable for criminal behaviour. 

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