Theories of Turning to Crime

Upbringing, Cognitive, Biological. Includes:




  • Created by: EmmaPeri
  • Created on: 21-09-15 15:28


Problem families = Problem Children

Aim: To document offending behaviour from childhood to adulthood. To investigate the influence of life events.

Method: Longitudinal study, interviews from the age of 8/9 to 48.

Details: 411 boys from 6 state schools in London, working class, from 397 families. Last interviewed aged 48, only 365 of them reached this stage of the study.

Results: 161/404 had convictions. 7% accounted for half of all offences. All shared similar family traits: convicted parent/young mother/single parent/delinquent sibling/low income.

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Social learning theory.

Aim: To see if children imitate modelled aggression. Investigate sex difference based on the social learning theory.

Method: Lab experiment. 1. Witness behaviour. 2. Mild aggression arousal. 3. Observation of behaviour.

Details: 72 boys and girls with an average age of 4.4 pre-matched on aggression.

Results: Boys were more physically aggressive, girls were more verbally aggressive. Boys were more likely to imitate the same sex model.

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Wikstrom & Tafel

Young offenders.

Aim: To investigate why young people offend.

Method: Data was collected from official records. Students were interviewed.

Details: Cross-sectional study on nearly 2000 year 10 students.

Results: Explainatory factors included: family social position, individual characteristics, social situation, lifestyle/routine, community context. All young offenders fell into one of the following groups, propensity induced, lifestyle dependent, or situationally limited.

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Yochelson & Samenow

Thinking patterns.

Aim: To understand the make up of a criminal. Establish techniques that could alter personality. Find techniques to help prevent criminal behaviour.

Method: Longitudinal study of interviews carried out over 14 years.

Details: 255 criminals (not guilty, reason - insanity) all male, from a variety of backgrounds. Only 30 completed the programme of interviews.

Results: Share 52 distinct thinking patterns. These include, restless, dissatisfied, irritable, want excitment, habitually angry, lack empathy, poor decision making.

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Stages of morality.

Aim: To find evidence in support of a progression through stages of moral development.

Method: 2 hour long interviews, given 10 dilemmas (like the Heinz one).

Deails: 58 boys aged 10-16. 52 of them were followed up every 3 years for 20 years.

Results: 3 levels, 6 stages. 1st level - learn morals from parents. 2nd level - learn morals from society. 3rd level - deciding on your own morals. only 25% of people reach the final stage.

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Gudjohnsson & Bownes

Guilt blame attribution.

Aim: Examine the relationship between the type of crime and the attributions made.

Method: Self report on "Blame Attribution Inventory"

Details: 80 criminals from Ireland. 20 had commited violent crimes, 20 property crimes and 40 sexual crimes.

Results: Sexual offenders had more remorse for their action (internal blame). Violent offenders had the most external attribution (blamed the other person). Property offenders had little remorse or external attribution.

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Murderers Brains.

Aim: Investigate patterns of brain activity in murderers.

Method: All did an activity 32 minutes before the PET scan to get the brain working so a clearer picture could be taken.

Details: 41 murderers and a control group of 41 non-murderers, matched on age/personality (6 had schizophrenia).

Results: Less activity in the brain (lower glucose metabolism) especially in the prefrontal cortex.

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Aim: See why males were affected by a syndrome of borderline mental retardation.

Method: Analysise of urine samples over a 24 hour period.

Details: 5 males from the Netherlands, all from the same family.

Results: Found a flawed monoamine metabolism which is linked with a deficit of MAOA which causes the aggresive behaviour in males.

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Daly & Wilson

low life exp. = high homi.

Aim: Find out if homicide rates link to local life expectancy in Chicago.

Method: Correlational study.

Details: Used local police/school/demographic records to collect data.

Results: 2 negative correlations, lower life expectancy = higher homicide rate, lower life expectancy = higher truancy from school

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