psychology paper 2 criminal behaviour

key concepts

core theory: biological theory

criticisms of core theory

core study: mednick et al ( nineteen eighty four)

limitations of study

application into research: crime reduction

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  • Created by: Emily
  • Created on: 18-05-11 17:24

key concepts

Problems with defying and measuring crime?

some behaviours have become more acceptable than in the past (hetrosexual individuals).some behaviours are acceptable in some countries but not in others (euthanasia) crime statistics are not reliable. this is because they count the number of criminal acts rather than the number of criminals. people may not be aware they have been a victim of crime. victims don't always want to report a crime.

a criminal personality is what psychologist believe that some individuals that are criminals have a different personality from "normal" people.

it is believed common characteristics of a criminal are..


lacking in feelings

over optimistic

self importance

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Core theory : biological theory

heritability is the proportion of a behaviour that is due to genetic factors

they believe genes have an effect on the brain which creates brain dysfunction

prefrontal cortex -underactive in criminals, it is the part of the brain were humans associate fear and anti-social behaviour.  limbic system - increased activity in criminals, controls aggressive and sexual behaviour.  corpus callosum - less activity in criminals, it is the bridge between rational and irrational behaviour.  Temporal Lobe - slower in aggresive psychopaths, it controls the language,learning and emotions in individuals.

believe all criminals have the similar facial features such as:

asymmetrical faces, high cheekbones, strong jaws, fleshy lips, lots of hair.

criticisms of this theory are 

- there can not be one criminal gene for all behaviours

- brain dysfunction only evident in some criminals

-criminals having different set features not supported by enough evidence.

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Alternative theory : social learning theory

believes criminal behaviour is just as likely to be learnt as inherited.

learn behaviours by obseriving and imitating others. only imitate role models - people we admire and would like to be like.

vicatious reinforcement when someone's behaviour is reinforced (stenghthened ) because they observe how another person is rewarded for the same behaviour.

helped the age restrictions on media that glorifies violence. believes children are influenced by what they see on-screen and in othere formats.

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Core study: mednick et al (1984)

study carried out on criminal behaviour

procedure: Denmark. accessed criminal records. on 4000 males  born between nineteen-twenty-four and nineteen-fourty-7. compared them with their biological parents and thier adoptive parents. Results were to show what percentage of people committing a crime depending on there parents criminal record

Results:     24% had biological parents who were convicted of a crime and adoptive parents who were convicted of a crime 14.7%had biological parents who were convicted of a crime but had adoptive parents who commited a crime. this shows that if a person's biological parents committed a crime then they were twice as likely to be committed of a crime themselves.

limitations: the study relied on records of criminal convictions which may have been unreliable. a common problem with adoptions is that most children spend some time with their biological parents before being removed and given up for adoption. the sample of adoptees was biased because they were all males.

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application into research

crime prevention

reduce "copy cat" crimes by placing age restrictions and bans on what is viewed.

begin teaching children young how to behave through the education system, youth services and social services.

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