Forensic Psychology

Turning to crime

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Farrington et al. -the Cambridge study in delinque

Aims: 1) to document the start, duration and end of offending behaviour in families

2) to investigate the influence of life events

Design: prospective longitudinal study

Participants: 411 boys aged 8 and 9 (born 1953/4). From the registers of 6 state schools in east London. Mostly white working class. 397 different families involved. At age 48, 93% were interviewed

Results: 1) at age 48, of the 404 people searched in criminal records, 161 had convictions

2) the number of offences and offenders peaked at age 17

3) 93% admitted to committing at least one crime in their lives

Evaluation: -ethnocentric, gender biased

+Longitudinal, qualitative + quantitative data

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Sutherland- theory of differential association. Le

Nine Principles: criminal behaviour is...
1) learned- criminal behaviour is not inherited. You are incapable of inventing criminal behaviour without prior influence from others
2) learned in interaction with other persons in process of communication- such communication may have involved verbal interaction and gestures without words. Individuals cannot become criminals by themselves.
3) learned within intimate personal groups- this provided the largest influence on learning criminal behaviour. The media provides a relatively unimportant role in the 'birth' of criminal behaviour.
4) when it is learned, it teaches the technique of committing crimes- a criminal has to learn the techniques of the trade, attitudes taken and excuses made for behaving in a criminal fashion.
5) committed depending on how 'favourable' the law is- groups of people may see certain laws as pointless or discriminatory and therefore feel they can flaunt them or break them.

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Sutherland continued

6) a person becomes delinquent because of an excess of definitions favourable to violation of law over definitions unfavourable to violation of law- the more one is exposed to criminal activity, the more they become criminal (principle of differential association)
7) differential association may vary in frequency, duration, priority and intensity- a precise description of a criminals behaviour would be possible in quantitative form.
8) the process of learning criminal behaviour by association with criminal and anti-criminal patterns involves all of the mechanisms that are involved in any other learning- there is nothing 'special' or 'abnormal' about criminal behaviour. (going against biological and pathological theorists)
9) Certain crimes cannot be explained- a thief generally steals to obtain money. However such an action is no different from the work of an honest labourer, so this cannot be explained.
Summary: 1) deviance occurs when people define a certain human situation as an appropriate occasion for violating social norms or criminal laws.
2) definitions of the situation are acquired through an individual's history of past experience

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