Theories of Crime


Mark Scheme


·         Biological explanations of crime (genetics, physiological)

·         Psychological explanations (Cognitive, SLT)

·         Social Theories (family influence, differential association, gender)

·         Problems of crime as an independent variable, sample bias


·         Evidence relating to specific theories

·         Methodological issues

·         Historical, cultural and political evaluation

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Biological - Genetic

·         Mednick et al (1987) showed that children resembled their criminal biological parents rather than their adopted ones

·         Retz et al (2004) specific 5- HTTLPR gene – links to violent behaviour

·         Dabbs et al (1995) higher testosterone levels in criminals

·         Virkkuken et al (1989) low serotonin turnover is linked to aggressive behaviour

·         Bohman replicated Mednicks study proving clear biological support

·         Genes control biological processes, so could have some affect

·         Limited due to environmental factors

·         Twin studies show both matter 

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Psychological Theories

·         Actor – observer effect

·         Self fulfilling prophecy

·         Differential Association theory – Sutherland

·         Bowlby – Maternal Deprivation

·         Jahoda (1954) boys act like their names suggest

·         Madson et al (2003) mothers expectations of drinking were fulfilled 

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Social Theories

·         Social learning theory

·         Bandura (1963)

·         Direct reinforcement, vicarious reinforcement needs

·         Identification process

·         Lab experiments are under representative but can be linked to outside application

·         Eron and Huesmann (1986) violence in the media study – TV violence and adult aggression

·         Model type is important

·         Charlton et al (2000) found no increase in aggression after the introduction of TV, prosocial norms outweighed the violence 

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