OCR Psychology - Turning to Crime - Upbringing

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Juby and Farrington 2009

Cambridge Study of Delinquent Behaviour

  • Participants: 411 working class boys from South East London

Most important risk factors for boys aged 8-10:

  • Family history of offending - we see family members as role models this those with family members who commit crime will believe it to be okay to do the same.
  • Risk-taking personality - those with risk-taking personalities may choose to get their thrill through crime rather than alternative ways e.g. extreme sports.
  • Low school attainment - Under-achieving at school could result in low self-esteem as one could be told they will not achieve anything if they do not achieve in school. This can result in them turning to crime as it could be seen as an achievement to 'get away with it'.
  • Poverty - some may resort to crime too get the things they want or need as they do not have the money to buy them.
  • Poor parenting - when a child is not taught the difference between right and wrong they will not know that committing a crime is wrong.
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Juby and Farrington 2009 - Results

  • Losing a mother was more likely to cause delinquency than losing a father.
  • 29% from disrupted families were convicted as juveniles compared to 18% from intact families.
  • Disruptions caused by parental disharmony were more damaging than disruptions caused by parental death.

Possible reasons for the results:

  • Without parental affection from a mother, a young male may be overwhelmed with testosterone as he lives with his father and this may get released by committing crime.
  • Those with disrupted families would be under a lot of stress as there may be feuds between their parents or they do not have the two role models they may desperately need.
  • Although the death of a parent is potentially devastating, there is a chance for the child to move on whereas those who are witnessing a lot of anger between their parents may then pick up the anger portrayed to them.
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Juby and Farrington 2009 - Evaluation

Generlisability: the study focusses on 411 young males. Statistics show that 90% of all crime is committed by males, meaning the study has high generalisability.

Usefulness: This study is very useful as it can really help us understand who are the most likely to offend. Consequently, it may help us find ways to reduce or help prevent the number of people committing crime.

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Akers et al 1979

Social Learning and Deviant Behaviour

  • Type: Cross-sectional snapshot study.
  • Research method: Questionnaire (self-report)
  • Aim: To test Sutherland's theory of differential association.
  • Participants: 2500 male and female adolescents in Midwestern United States.
  • Participants were asked to complete a survey about drinking and drug-taking.


  • Deviance occurs when people define certain human situations as an appropriate occasion for violating social norms or criminal laws.
  • Definitions of the situation are acquired through an individual's history of past experience.
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Akers et al 1979 - Results & Evaluation


  • The social learning theory was supported strongly by the results (monkey-see-monkey-do).
  • The most effective predictive variable was found to be the differential association.


  • Generalisability: high generalisability as a large sample was used and also included females.
  • Validity: Can be seen to have low validity as a self-report was used. Participants could have lied on the self-report due to demand characteristics.
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Wikstrom 2003 - Peterborough Youth Study

  • Type: Cross-sectional Study.
  • Participants: All year 10 pupils in Peterborough's 12 state schools.
  • Research method: Questionnaire (self-report) - 2000 sent out and 83% were returned (subject attrition).
  • After analysing the data they selected a random sample to then have a more in-depth interview.
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Wikstrom 2003 - Results

  • 7% reported to have committed a serious offence (serious theft).
  • Strongest predictors of offending were:
  • 1. Social Situations
  • 2. Personality
  • 3. Individual Routines
  • 4. Lyfestyle
  • Those with disadvantaged backgrounds tended to have high risk factors and were more vulnerable to influences e.g. peer groups.
  • The gender, social class, family type or ethnic background of the students did not have a direct influence on adolescent offending.
  • The study reccommended families and schools could help prevent such young people turning to crime e.g. better supervision at break and lunch times.
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