Turning to crime

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Farrington: Disrupted families

Aim:  document offending behaviour from childhood to adulthood.

Method: longitudinal study, interviews 411 boys from 6 state schools in east London, mainly white working class. 


. number of offences peak at age 17

. start 10-13 (91%)) re convicted

. age 48, 404 searched - 161 criminal records

.most chronic offenders shared same characteristics convicted before age 21, parents convicted, delinquent siblings

Conclusion: Most important risk factors in family are poverty,poor child rearing, poor school performance. offenders deviant in many areas of their life. 

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Wikstrom and Tafel

Aim: why young people offend 

Method: cross-section study around 2000 year 10(14-15). official records and interviews 

Findings: 44% of male and 30% of females had convicted at least one offence. 9% of male and 3% of females committed a serious crime.

Conclusion: three groups of adolescent offenders;

.Propensity Induced-  enduring propensity to offend 

.Lifestyle dependant- offend when the have high risk lifestyle 

.Situational limited- occasionally offend if exposed to high levels of situational risk.

BACKGROUND INFO: government figures show that the most disadvantage 5% in society are 100times more likely to have multiple problems than most advantage 50%.

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Cognitive-Criminal thinking patterns Yochelson&Sam

Aim: to understand the make up of criminal personality

Method: longitudinal study,255 male various backgrounds, interviewed only 30 completed. most confined to metal hospital found guilty plead on insane. 

Findings: lack empathy, feel no obligation to anyone poor responsible decision-making.

Conclusion: 52 thinking patterns found "errors" in thinking. no control group can't compare traits, can't say only found in criminals 

Cognitive approach assumption: criminals must thinking differently than law-abiding people. 

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Cognitive- Kohlberg Moral Development in children

Aim: find evidence to support the progression through stages of moral development 

Method: 58 Chicago, working middle class 7-16(3 years interval), interviewed for 2 hours solving 10 dilemmas (Heniz).Studies repeated throughout USA,UK and Mexico.

Findings: younger boy performed at 1& 2 stage older boys 3& 4 stage this was the same throughout different cultures.

Conclusion: support found for stages and people commit crime because they lack moral reasoning. Thornton& Reid suggests that criminals committing crime for financial gain show immature reasoning. criminals don't develop to stage 3.

Background: Piaget believed that children developed through stages

1&2 - doing what is right fear of punishment and for personal gain 

3&4 - doing what is right according to majority and laws, duty and help society 

5&6 - doign what is right against law too srtict and inner conscience 

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Cognitive- Gudjohnsson and Bownes

Aim: relationship between type of offences and the attribution offenders 

Method:  80 criminals Northern Ireland 20 property and violence and 40 sex offences. All completed 42 item "blame attribution inventory" (BAI)


 * criminals that committed sexual offences were more guilty than violent criminals

* external attribution highest in violent offenders lowest in sex offences 

Conclusion: compared with England and found high consistency for the way criminals attribute blame.

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Biology - Raine et al

Aim: patterns of brain activity in murderers compared to a matched sample using PET scanning 

Method: experimental group 41 murders (plead insanity still convicted) 23 history of brain damaged and 6 schizophrenia matched with 41 non- murders on age and sex similar in other ways e.g. 6 schizophrenia. DV measures of brain activity and brain structure (PET scan) PET scan is an image test used radioactive substance (tracer) which is injected into the participants veins. the tracer  travel through blood and collect in tissues and organs e.g. brain. Participants carried out a continuous performance task ( visual task that increases activity in prefrontal lobe) for 32 minutes. radiologist able to read more clearly disease as PET scan detects signal from tracer.

 Findings and Conclusion: no difference on task performance but other difference found between murders and control group. prefrontal cortex lower glucose levels (activity) in some prefrontal area of the brain. this may be a predispositions towards violence as abnormal activity is responsible for increase aggression,impulsive behaviour and problems with controlling emotions.

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Biology- Bruner

Aim: a case study about a family from Netherlands (males) affected with borderline retardation and abnormal violent behaviour. 

Method: quantitative data: urine sample taken from 5 affected males over 24 hour period. 

Findings: disrupted monoamine metabolism associated with low levels of enzyme MAOA. A mutation found on X chromosome which was responsible for MAOA production.

Conclusion: MAOA is involved in metabolism of serotonin, this is impaired which is likely the cause f mental retardation which could be linked to aggressive behaviour. 

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Biology- Daly and Wilson

AIM: if homicide rate would vary as a function of local life expectancy in Chicago

Method: correlation study using police, school  and local demographic records in Chicago. focus on communities that had low life expectancies for males 54-77.

Findings: life expectancy was a good predictor of neighbourhoods homicide rates (negative correlation) as the life expectancy decrease the homicide rates increased -0.88. Daly and Wilson suggest that these males have short time horizon they want instant gratification rather than delay pleasure, expect short lives and discount the future resulting in taking risks for short term rewards. Also negative correlation with truancy from school and life expectancy.

Conclusion: young men from disadvantage neighbourhood expect shorter lives therefore disregard furtue and likely to engage in risky behaviour. 

Background info: males commit more crimes than girls, physiologist believe its because of evolutionary theory of natural selection. Males compete for a mate so they are most likely to fight,which these same pressures are on society males. 

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