Turning to Crime


  • Farrington 
  • Sutherland
  • Wikstrom and Tafel  
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Aim: Document start, duration and end of offending behaviour and it invesitgate the ffect of life efents; risk and protective factors predicting offending behaviour

Procedure: Lonlitudinal study of 411 boys aged 8-9. Boys were taken from registers of state schools in east london and were predominantly white middle class. 93% interviewed 


  • 161 criminal convictions 
  • Offences peaked at 17
  • 93% commited one offence according ot self report
  • 7% chronic offenders


  • Offenders are deviant in many areas of their lives
  • Important risk factors for ciminality: Impulsiveness, poor child rearinfg and poor school preformance
  • Early intervention programmes = singificant impact
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Sutherland- Differential Association Hypothesis

1) Criminal Behaviour is learned

2) Criminal behaviour is learned in interaction with other persons in a process of communication

3) Principle part of learning of criminal behaviour occurs within intimate personal groups 

4) When criminal behaviour is learned, the learning includes the techniques of commiting the crime, which are soemtimes very complicated, soemtimes very simple and the specific direction of motives, desires and rationalisations and attitudes

5) Specific direction of motives and drives is learned from definitions of the legal codes as favourable or unfavourable

6) Person becomes delinquent becaus eof an excess of definitions favourable to violation of law over definitions unfavourable to violation of law

7) Differential associations my vary in frequency, duration, priority and intensity

8) Process of learning cirminal behaviour by association with criminal and anti criminal patterns involves all of the mechanisms that are involved in any other learning

9) While cirminal behaviour is an expression of general needs and values, it is not explained by those general needs and values since non criminal behaviour is an expression of the same needs and values

Summary: 1) Deviance occurs when a certain human situation is defined as an appropariate occasion for violating social normals or criminal laws 2) Definitions of the situations are aquired through an individuals history os past experiences 

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Wikstrom & Tafel- The Peterborough Youth Study

Aim: To investigate why young people offend

Procedure: Cross sectional study carried out on 2000 year 10 students. Data acollected from interviews and official reports 


  • 44.8% of males and 30.6% females had offended
  • High frequency offenders commit a wide range of crimes
  • One in eight reported to be cuaght by the police in last offense
  • More likely to be victims of violence and substance abuse

Explanatory factors: Family social position; Indivdual characteristics; Social situation; Lifetsyle; Community context


  • Propensity induced: Many risk factors and have enduring propensity to offend
  • Lifetstyle Dependent: Average social adjustment but offend due to high risk lifestyle 
  • Situationally limited: Youth occasionally offend due to situation they are in (fight)
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  • Yochelson & Samenow- Criminal thinking patterns
  • Kohlberg- Moral Development
  • Gudjohnsson- Attribution 
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Yochelson & Samenow

Aim: Understand make up of criminal personality and to establish techniques to alter cime producing personality. Also to encourage legal responsibility and techniques to prevent cirminal behabviour

Procedure: Longlitudinal sudy; 255 male participants from various backgrounds; Population mainly confined to mental hospital; 30 completed interviews

Findings: Criminals are:

  • Restless, dissatisfied and irritable
  • Considered requests from teachers as impositions while at school
  • Ostracised themselves
  • lack empathy
  • habitually angry


  • 52 thinking patterns were distinguished in criminal personality 
  • Errors in thinking
  • No control group 
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Aim: Find evidence in support of a progression through stages of moral development

Procedure: 58 working and middle class boys from chicago; Aged 7, 10 13 and 16; Given interviews with 10 ethical dillemas; Repeated in UK, Mexico and Taiwan 


  • Younger boys at pre-mortality and conventional morality stage
  • Older boys at post conventional morality 

Conclusion: Evidence does support the idea of a stage theory. Recent studies show that criminals offending for finnacial gain are morally immature than those for violent crimes

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Gudjohnsson & Bownes

Aim: To examine relationship between the type of offense and attributions offenders make about their criminal acts

Procedure: 80 criminals; Northern ireland; 20 violent crimes; 40 sex offenders; 20 crimes against property; Answered GBAI


  • Violent offence had mild guilt; mild mental element; highest external attribution
  • Sexual offences had highest guilt; highest mental element; lowest external attribution
  • Property offences had least guilt; lowest mental element; Mild external element 

Conclusion: Comparison between these and english findings from earlier study show similarities in results but a higher level of external attribution in northern ireland was found because of 'troubles' in northern ireland in 1980's and 1990's

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  • Raine- Brain dysfunction
  • Brunner- Genes
  • Gender- Daly & Wilson
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Aim: Make a multi-factor approach to understanding antiscoial and agressive behaviour in children 

Procedure: Meta analysis of a selection of articles covering neuropsychological, neurological and brain-immaging studies as they relate to anti-scoial behaviour in children


  • Low resting heart rate = predictor of someone who seeks excitement to raise arousal level, creating fearless temperament
  • Adolescent pre-frontal lobe still forming
  • Birth complications, poor parenting, smoking and malnutrition is also a factor. (enviromental cosnsiderations = less reductionist)

Conclusions: Early interventions and prevention may be an effective way of reversing biological deficits that predispose to antisocial and agressive behaviour

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Aim: Case study on family from netherlands where males were affected by a syndrome of borderline mental retardation and abnormal violent behaviour. These include agression, arson, attempted **** and exhibitionism

Procedure: 5 affected males were studied; Data collected from analysis of urine samples over 24 hours


  • Tests showed distributed monoamine metabolism with a deficit of MAOA enzyme
  • x chromosomal mutation

Conclusions: MOAO is involved in serotonin metabolism, Impaired metabolism of serotonin = linked to mental retardation and aggressive behaviour 

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Daly & Wilson

Aim: Find out if homocide rates would vary as function of local life expectancy in chicago 

Procedure: Correlational study using survery data from police records,s chool records and local demographic records; Average life expectancy from 54.3 compared to homicide 


  • Homicide rate varied from 1.3 to 156 homicides per 100,000 persons per anum 
  • Correlation between life expectancy and homicide rate was strong
  • Lower life expectancy = higher homicide rate
  • School absenteeism = negative correlation with life expectancy 

Conclusion: Young men from disadvantaged neighbourhoods expected to live shorter lives and were more likely to engage in risky behaviour; Finds explained better by social factors rather than life expectancy 

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