Forensic Psychology

Upbringing

1.1 Disrupted families

Farrington, Barnes and Lambert (1996) - To investigate the influences on male criminality

Method: Longitudinal study on 411 boys (inner city areas of London, mostly born in 1953). Interviewed the children and their parents and questionnaires were completed by the children's teachers. Data was also collected from the Criminal Records Office.

Findings: 75% of convicted parents had a convicted child; when aged 20 48% of those with convicted fathers also had convictions compared to 19% of those without convicted fathers. Having a sibling who had been convicted was also a strong predictor of conviction. Delinquency rates were higher among 75 boys who were living in permanently disrupted families, compared to boys living in intact families. Delinquency rates were similar in disrupted families and in intact high conflict families. Loss of mother is more likely to cause delinquency than loss of father, and disruptions caused by parental disharmony were more damaging than disruption caused by parental death.


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Farrington, Barnes and Lambert (1996)

Upbringing

1.1 Disrupted families

Farrington, Barnes and Lambert (1996) - To investigate the influences on male criminality

Method: Longitudinal study on 411 boys (inner city areas of London, mostly born in 1953). Interviewed the children and their parents and questionnaires were completed by the children's teachers. Data was also collected from the Criminal Records Office.

Findings: 75% of convicted parents had a convicted child; when aged 20 48% of those with convicted fathers also had convictions compared to 19% of those without convicted fathers. Having a sibling who had been convicted was also a strong predictor of conviction. Delinquency rates were higher among 75 boys who were living in permanently disrupted families, compared to boys living in intact families. Delinquency rates were similar in disrupted families and in intact high conflict families. Loss of mother is more likely to cause delinquency than loss of father, and disruptions caused by parental disharmony were more damaging than disruption caused by parental death.

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Bandura's Social Learning Theory

Upbringing

1.2 Learning from Others

Bandura's Social Learning Theory

Children learn social behaviour such as aggression through the process of observational learning- through watching the behaviour of another person (Bandura's Social Learning Theory). Models are most likely to be imitated of their behaviour is stereotypical of a given situation and if they are perceived by the observer as a powerful role model or someone who is similar/has relevance to them. Also, if the model is rewarded for their behaviour, that same behaviour is more likely to be imitated (i.e. Vicarious Reinforcement).

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Association of Chief Officers of Probation (1993)

Upbringing

1.3 Poverty and Disadvantaged Neighbourhoods

Association of Chief Officers of Probation (1993)- Investigate the association between poverty and crime.

Method: Interviewed 1,389 young people on probation schemes.

Findings: 72% were in poverty and more than 2/3 of the 17 year olds surveryed had "no reliable source of income." 98% of the group left school as early as possible gaining little if any qualifications and most 17 year olds were neither in work nor attending training schemes. Those interviewed tended to leave home at an early age (usually, 16) sometimes as a result of sexual abuse. 34% of those interviewed were found to have an addiction problem to alcohol and/or drugs, sometimes causing their turn to crime. The researchers concluded that there was a "real link between poverty and crime.

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Yochelson and Samenow (1976)

Cognition

2.1 Criminal Thinking Patterns

Yochelson and Samenow (1976)- To find out why criminals turn to crime

Method: Studied 255 male offenders who were either residents in a psychiatric hospital in the USA who had been judged either not guilty by reason of insanity of imcompotent to stand trial; or had been referred to the authors by agencies such as the courts, probation services or social services. Numbers for both set of people were equal. Each offender was interviewed a number of times as part of the treatment they received in hospital (over several years). These interviews were conducted by the authors and were not standardised but Freudian in nature.

Findings: Discovered 52 thinking patterns were distinguishable in the criminal personality (considered "errors" in thinking) Examples are:

  • Want to live a life of excitement, at any cost
  • Are habitually angry as a way of life
  • Are lacking empathy
  • Feel under no obligation to anyone or anything except their own interests
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Kohlherg's Theory (1958)

Cognition

2.2 Moral Development and Crime

Level 1: Pre-Conventional Morality:

Stage 1, Punishment and obediance orientation: doing what is right because of fear of punishment

Stage 2, Hedonistic orientation: doing what is right for personal gain, perhaps a reward.

Level 2: Conventional Morality:

Stage 3, Interpersonal concordance orientation: doing what is right according to majority.

Stage 4, Law and under orientation: doing what is right because it is your duty and helps society.

Level 3: Post-Conventional Morality:

Stage 5, Social contract or legalistic orientation: doing what is morally right even if it is against the law because the law is too restrictive

Stage 6, Universal ethical principles orientation: doing what is right because our inner conscience which has absorbed the principles of justice, equality and sacredness of human life. Seldom.

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Byers, Crider and Biggers (1999)

Cognition

2.3 Social Cognition

Byers, Crider and Biggers (1999)- Investigate the social cognition of petty criminals

Method: Interviewed 8 offenders who had committed 'hate crimes' against the Amish community in America such as harassment, intimidation and vandalism.

Findings: Found 38 neutralisations including techniques of neutralisation proposed by Sykes and Matza:

  • Denial of Responsibility (10.5%)- "The harrassment was almost second nature" 
  • Denial of injury (31.5%)- "No one ever really got hurt, and there wasn't much property damage"
  • Denial of victim (23.7%)- "I always thought they were of lesser intelligence"
  • Condemnation of condemners (15.8%)- "I know almost all the cops, they have probably had their fair share of claping"
  • Higher loyalties (18.4%)- "It was kind of like male bonding"

These cognitions allow criminals to justify their actions and feel less remorse.

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Raine, Buchsbaum and LaCasse (1997)

Biology

3.1 Brain Dysfunction

Raine, Buchsbaum and LaCasse (1997)- Compare the brain functioning of murderers with non-murderers.

Method: The brains' of 41 people (charged with murder and pleading not guilty due to reasons of insanity NGRI) were examined using PET scans (39 males and 2 females), and then compared with 41 controls. All NGRI's were referred to the imaging centre for legal reasons, such as to obtain evidence for the defence. Reasons for the referral included schizophrenia, head injury, and personality disorders. Participants were matched by age and sex to a control group of participants. Participants with schizophrenia were matched with other people with the same dianosis but no history of murder. All offenders were in custody and kept medication free (as were the control group) for the two weeks before brain scanning. All of the participants were injected with a glucose tracer, required to work at a continuous performance task that was based around target recognition for 32 minutes, and then given a PET scan.

Findings: Compared to the controls, the NGRIs had less activity in their prefrontal area of brain as well as the corpus callosum. Differences were also found in the functioning of the amygdala (NGRIs had less activity in the left side and more activity in the right side).

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Brunner (1993)

Biology

3.2 Genes and Serotonin

Brunner (1993)- To investigate the biological factors that influence violent crime.

Method: Researchers looked at the behaviour of a large family in the Netherlands where the males are affected by a syndrome of borderline mental retardation and abnormal violent behaviour (Brunner syndrome is extremely rare). Behaviours included impulsive aggression, arson, attempted **** and exhibitionism. The study was based on 5 affected males from the family and data was collected from analysis of urine samples over a 24 hour period.

Findings: Tests showed monoamine metabolism associated with a deficit of the enzyme monoamine oxidase A (MAOA). In each of the five males a point of mutation was identified in the X chromosome of the gene responsible for production of MAOA. MAOAs job is to break down three important neurotransmitters (norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine). The researchers tested the men's urine. They found excess levels of all three neurotransmitters. Suggesting that neurotransmitters such as serotonin can link to criminality. Researchers believe the men are most likely to be violent under stress. 2 of the men committed arson soon after the death of a close relative.

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Dabbs et al (1987)

Biology

3.3 Gender

Dabbs et al (1987)- Investigate the correlation between violent crimes and testosterone.

Method: The researchers measured testosterone in the saliva of 89 American male prison inmates.

Findings: Inmates with higher testosterone concentrations had more often been convicted of violent crimes. The relationship was most striking at the extremes of the testosterone distribution, where 9 out of 11 inmates with the lowest testosterone concentrations had committed non- violent crimes and 10 out of 11 inmates with the highest testosterone concentrations had committed violent crimes. Those higher in testosterone received longer times to serve before parole and longer punishments for disciplinary infractions in prison. In the housing unit were peer ratings were most reliable, inmates rated as tougher by their peers were higher in testosterone.

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