Forensic psychology- Turning to crime

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  • Created on: 11-12-13 18:48


Aim: to test social learning theory of deviant behaviour on adolescent drinking and drug taking

Sample: 2500 teenagers aged 13-18 

Procedure: parental permission obtained. questionairre given of abstinence use of alcohol and drugs, dependent variable were 6 point frequency scale of use, also had to check whether they experience problems on more than one occasion such as 'not being able to remember later. selected five concepts as predictor variables

  • imitation index: total of admired models whom were observed using the substance 
  • definitions: 3 aspects covered, differential association (repsondents perception of approving/disapproving attitudes from adults or teens), differential peer association (how many friends used the substance 
  • differential reinforcement (social): punishment/encouragement from parents. friends over abstinence 
  • differential reinforcement (social and non social): postive and negative outcomes of use 

Results: support social learning theory, explained 55% of drinking behaviour, least predictive variable was imitation and most predictive variable was differential peer association 

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Palmer and Hollin

Aim: to consider moral reasoning, pereptions of parenting, attribution of intent and self reported deliquency among young male offenders and non offenders 

Sample: 97 convicted male offenders aged 13-21 years and 77 non- offenders aged 12-24 years 

Method: correlaiton, data collected using a number of psychometric tests 

  • socio moral reflection measure: tests moral reasoning, e.g. is keeping a promise important 
  • extracts from own perceptions of parenting: asseses rejection, emotional warmth of parenting 
  • attribution of intent: 12 scenarios, 4 pro social intent, 4 hostile and 4 ambiguous had to select reasons for behaviour 'to be mean' 'to be helpful or 'not sure 
  • self reported deliquency checklist: what offences committed and how often


  • SRD showed modal score for non-offender 6 bur for offender it was 25 
  • offenders had less mature moral reasoning, based on rewards and punishment 
  • offenders showed more hostile attribution of intent 
  • offending score correlated strongly with parental rejection and attributions of hostility
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Aim: Investigate influence of life events and family background, from the start of criminal behaviour in childhood to adulthood 

Participants: 411 boys from 397 different families, born in 1953/4, 6 state schools in East London. All were white, working class. at 48 365 were then interviewed again 

Method: longitudinal study, using interview and criminal record search. 


  • 161 had convictions 
  • no. of offences peaked at 17 
  • earlier they commited a crime the more crimes they went on to do 
  • 7% were chronic offenders and the chronic offenders accounted for 50% of crimes 
  • Was found that chronic offenders were more likely to have a convicted parent, deliquent sibling, young mother, low popularity, proving these were risk factors. 
  • other risk facotrs include, poverty, impulsiveness, poor child rearing
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Wilkstrom & Tafel

Participants: nearly 2000 year 10 students 

Method: cross sectional study using interview 


  • 44.8% of males and 30.6% of females had committed one crime 
  • 9.8% of males and 3.8% of females committed a serious crime
  • Offenders are more often victimised than non-offenders and violent offenders are more likely to be victims of violence.

Conclusion: Found 3 main groups in young offenders...

  • propensity induced- have a personality and characteristic that makes them offend, only a small proportion fitted in the group 
  • lifestyle dependent- have a high risk lifestyle such as hanging out with deliquent peers
  • situationally limited- somtimes exposed to high levels of situation risk such as substance abuse. 
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Yochelson & Samenow

Aim: to find the cause of and prevent criminal behaivuour

Participants: 255 males from various backgrounds, half were sent to a secure treatment placement as they were said to not have mens rea, the other half were normal criminals in a standard jail. There was no non-criminal control group 

Method: series of interviews over several years


  • 52 thinking patterns 
  • included, no empathy, habitually angry, no obligation to anyone 
  • 30 completed the programme only 9 changed as a result 
  • they planned to use freudian therapy to find the cause of the behaivour, but the Ps were lying to improve their situation so Y&S examined the thinking patterns 
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Gudjonsson and Bownes

Aim: to examine the attributions offenders make about their criminal act and then compare these to an english sample 

Participants: 80 criminals serving sentences in NI. Divided into 3 groups, 20 Ps= violent offenders (mean age 29), 40Ps= sex offenders, 20 Ps= property offenders

Method: use the blame attribution inventory to measure attribution of blame on three dimensions: internal/external, mental element and guilt


  • sexual offenders showed the most remorse 
  • no difference in mental elements
  • external attribution was highest for violent offenders and lowest for sexual offenders
  • when compared to the english sample, irish prisoners showed lower mental element, lower guilt and higher external attributions
  • Although the difference may have been because at the time (1980s and early 1990s) in NI there was a lot of violence  
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Aim: to take a multi factorial approach to understanding antisocial and aggressive behaviour in children

Method: a review article 


  • Low resting heart rate good predictor of an indiviudual who will seek excitement to raise their arousal level
  • adolescent brain is still forming its final connectionsin the pre-frontal lobes up to 20 
  • activity in pre-frontal lobes is lower in impulsive individuals who are likely to be antisocial and aggresive. 
  • Birth complications, physical abuse, smoking and drinking during pregnancy could all cause pre frontal lobe damage 
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Aim: to explain the behaivour of a large family in the Netherlands where the males were affected by mental retardation, and abnormal violent behaivour

Sample: five affected males from the family 

Method: Data collected from analysis of urine samples over a 24hr period 


  • the tests showed disturbed monoamine metabolism associated wiht a defecit of the enzyme monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) 
  • in each five males a point mutation was found in the gene responsible for MAOA production 
  • MAOA is involved in serotin metabolism, and serotonin is repsonsible for the regulation of anger and aggresion. 
  • however not all males were affected by this in the family even though they suffered from mental retardation. 
  • as its a rare condition, so we cant generalise it yet 
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Daly and Wilson

Aim: To find out if homicide rates would vary with local life expectancy in chicago 

Participants: 77 longstanding community areas or neighbourhoods, with stable boundaries. the study focused on areas with below average life expectancies. 

Method: correlation, using survey data from police records, school records and local demogrpahic records from populaiton census. 


  • life expectancy best predictor of neighbourhood-specific homicide rates. 
  • ranged from 1.3 to 156 per 100,000 persons per year 
  • young men increased risk taking for short term rewards as they discounted their future. 
  • truancy at school was also strongly correlated with life expectancy, as little point in putting effort into school, and parents dont enforce it because they operating on a small time horizon 
  • in the case of females they have kids earlier the lower the life expectancy gets
  • the median age for mothers in low life expec. areas was 22.6 and 27.3 for the area with the highest 
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