Turning To Crime

HideShow resource information

Upbringing 1.1 Disrupted Families

Farrington, Barnes and Lambert(1996)

Aim: Investigate the influences on male criminality

Method: They conducted a longitudinal study on 411 boys from inner London. They interviewed the children and their parents and questionnaires were completed by the childrens teachers. Data was also collected from the Criminal Records Office.


1) About 75% of convicted parents had a convicted child, when aged 20 years. 48% of those with convicted fathers also had convictions, compared to 19% of those without convicted fathers.

2) They also found that delinquency rates were higher among 75 boys who were living in permanently disrupted families on their 15th birthday.

3) Delinquency rates were similar in disrupted families and in intact high conflict families. Boys who lost their mothers were more likely to be delinquent than boys who lost thier fathers.

1 of 11

Upbringing 1.2 Learning from others

Bandura's Social Learning Theory

Aim: To see if children (72 from Stanford) who witness an adult behaving aggressively imitate this aggresive behaviour, when given tge opportunity


1) The children in the aggressive model condition reproduced more imitative aggressive responses than the children in the non-aggressive model condition. 

2) Children in the non-aggressive male model condition displayed less aggressive responses than the children in the aggressive model condition and the control group.

3) Boys made more imitative physical aggressive responses than girls.

4) The boys in the aggressive model conditions showed more aggressive responses if the model was male than if the model was female.

5) The girls in the aggressive model conditions also showed more physical aggressive responses if the model was male but more verbal aggressive responses if the model was female.

2 of 11

Upbringing 1.3 Poverty & Disadvantaged Neighbours

Association of Chief Officer of Probation (1993)

Aim: To investigate the association between poverty and crime.

Method: ACOP interviewed 1389 young people on probation schemes.


1) They found that 72% were in poverty, according to measuring used by the EC, and more than two-thirds of the 17 year-olds surveyed had 'no reliab le source of income'.

2) Educational qualifications were equally sparse, woth 98% having left school as early as possible.

3) Alcohol and drugs were also critical in turning people to crime, with the probation officers citing addiction or compulsion as a key factor with 34%. 

3 of 11

Cognition 2.1 Criminal Thinking Patterns

Yochelson and Samenow (1976)

Aim: To find out why criminals turn to crime

Method: They 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 or incompetent to stand trial; or had been referred to courts, probation service or social services. 


1) 52 thinking patterns were distinguishable in the criminal personality.

2) Examples: 

  • 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 anthing exept their own interests.
4 of 11

Cognition 2.2 Moral Development and Crime

Kohlberg (1958+) Theory of moral development.

Level 1 Pre-conventional morality:

  •    Stage 1: Punishment and obedience orientation (Fear of punishment).
  •    Stage 2: Hedonistic orientation (Personal gain, a reward).

Level 2 Conventional morality: 

  •    Stage 3: Interpersonal concordance orientation (Good boy or girl).
  •    Stage 4: Law and order orientation (Your duty or helps society).

Level 3 Post-conventional morality:

  •    Stage 5: Social contract or legalistic orientation (Law is too restrictive).
  •    Stage 6: Universal ethical principles orientation (Inner conscience).
5 of 11

Cognition 2.2 Moral Development and Crime

Palmer and Hollin ( 1998)

Aim: To investigate the level of moral understanding in young offenders.

Method: Studied 126 convicted offenders in a Young Offenders Institution and at Magistrates' court. They were mainly accused of burglary and car theft. A comparison group of 122 males and 210 female non-offenders were also used. All participants were given a Socio-Moral Reflection Measure-Short Form (SRM-SF), which contained 11 moral dilemma-related questions. Also they were given The Self report Delinquency Checklist (SRD) which examimined the differences in moral reasoning. 


1) The SRD checklist showed that the delinquent group had offended signigicantly more than the control group. 

2) The SRM-SF scale found the delinquent group showed less mature moral reasoning than the non-delinquent group. 

3) Male offenders had the least mature moral reasoning and were mainly operating at Kohlberg's pre-conventional level

6 of 11

Cognition 2.3 Social Cognition


1) Internal- they attribute the cause of behaviour within themselves.

2) External- refers to social and enviromental factors.

Sykes and Matza (1957)

 5 Techniques of neutralisation that allow criminals to deny their actions are wrong or harmful.

1) Denial of responsibility- Blaming upbringing.

2) denial of injury to victim.

3) Denial of victim- Victim deserves it.

4) Condemnation of condemners- Critical of criminal justice system.

5) Appeal to higher loyalties- Peers.

7 of 11

Cognition 2.3 Social Cognition

Byers, Crider and Biggers (1999)

Aim: To investigate the social cognition of petty criminals.

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


1) Denial of responsibility (10.5%) - The harassment was almost common nature.

2) Denial of injury (31.5%) - no one really got hurt and it wasn't much property damage.

3) Denial of victim (23.7%) - I always thought they were of lesser intelligence.

4) Condemnation of condemners (15.8%) - I know almost all the cops... They have probably had their fair share of claping.

5) Higher loyalties (18.4%) - It was kind of like male bonding. 

8 of 11

Biology 3.1 Brain Dysfunction

Raine, Buchsbaum and LaCasses (1997)

Aim: To compare the brain functioning of murderers with non-murderers.

Method: PET scans were used to examine the brains of 41 people (39M, 2F) who were charged with murder and were pleading NGRI, and compared them with 41 controls. All NGRI's were referred to the imaging centre for legal reasons. Some referrals included schizophrenia, head injury abd personality disorders. All offenders were in custofy and were kept medication free for the two weeks before the brain scanning. All participants were injected with a glucose tracer, required to work at a continuous performance task that was based around target recognition for 32 minutes. 


1) NGRI's were found to have less activity in their prefrontal area of the brain, compared to the control group.

2) They found less activity in the corpus callosum. 

3) They also found to have differences in the functioning of the amygdala. The NGRI's had less activity in the left side and more on the right. 

9 of 11

Biology 3.2 Genes and Serotonin

Brunner (1993)

Aim: To investigate the biological factors that influenced violent crime.

Method: They 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). These included impulsive aggression, arson, attempted **** and exhibitionism.


1) the tests showed disturbed monoamine metabolism asscoiated with a deicit of the enzyme monoamine oxidase A (MAOA). 

2) In each of the 5 males a point mutation was identified in the X chromosome of the gene responsible for the prodution of MAOA. MAOA breaks down three important neurotransmitters9Norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine). 

3) Excessive levels of all three neurotransmitters were found in the mens urin. This suggests that serotonine can link to criminality. 

10 of 11

Biology 3.3 Gender

Dabbs et al. (1987)

Aim: to investigate the correlation between testosterone and violent crime.

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


1) Inmates with higher testosterone concentrations had more often been convicted of violent crimes.

2) 9 out of 11 inmates with the lowest testosterone concentrations had committed non-violent crimes.

3) 10 out of 11 inmates with the highest testosterone concentrations had commited violent crimes.

4) Inmates rated as tougher by their peers were higher in testosterone. 

11 of 11


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Criminological and Forensic Psychology resources »