Turning to Crime

upbringing, cognition and biology

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Turning to Crime

 

Upbringing

Disruptive Families

Farrington

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Turning to Crime

based on idea that 'problem families create problem children'

411 London boys - androcentric so can't generalise to girls, ethnocentric

Longitudinal study (tested from 8 to 46) - see long term effects BUT might miss something that becomes important later on

Interviews with boys, their mothers and teachers and search of criminal records

Results:

  • 40% convicted before they were 40 (31% national ave)
  • Offending peaked at 17 and began to decrease but earlier they started, the more persistent criminal career was
  • Reasons given for offending - hedonistic (enjoyment) or utilitarian (material gain)
  • Worst offenders came from large, multi-problem families
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Upbringing

Disruptive Families

Farrington

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Risk factors identified:

  • Poor families, poor housing and physical neglect from parents
  • Family members with convictions
  • Low intelligence and school achievement
  • Broken homes or separation from parents

This suggests:

  • Many environmental factors that can predict criminal/deliquent behaviour
  • Children with poor educational achievement more likely to offend to make up for not being able to achieve legally
  • Children from criminal families develop anti-establishment attitudes and believe it is right to commit crimes

Problem children grow into problem adults who produce problem children - so we need to change the way in which these children are dealt with to prevent this cycle

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Upbringing

Differential Association Hypothesis

Sutherland

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it is the social organisations people are socialised in that determine whether or not they will participate in criminal activities

  • Similar to Bandura's social learning theory
  • It is not the individual's fault - it is their social context
  • Explains deviance in terms of the individual's social relationships
  • 9 basic points in total

Main points:

  • Criminal behaviour learnt in interaction with others
  • Learning includes how to commit the crime and the reasons why (motives)
  • Person becomes deliquent due to excess of definitions favourable to violation of the law
  • Differential associations may vary in frequency, duration and intensity
  • We learn to become a criminal the same way we learn anything else
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Upbrining

Differential Association Hypothesis

Sutherland

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Strength of theory - it can account for a range of criminal acts from a range of people

Weakness - it cannot account for individual difference in the susceptability of learning i.e. some people learn quicker and are easily led, whereas others are strong willed.

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Upbringing

Poverty and Disadvantages Neighbourhoods

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Government figures suggest the most disadvantaged 5% of society are 100 times more likely to have multiple problems than the most advantaged 50%

Peterborough Youth Study:

2000 year 10 students (large sample, representative BUT only year 10's not all teenagers)

Interviews with students - any questions not understood explained by researcher, increasing reliability and validity

Findings:

  • 44.8% males and 30.6% females had committed at least one offence
  • 9.8% males and 3.8% females had committed a serious offence
  • 1 in 8 offenders had been reported or arrested by police for last crime
  • Offenders often more victimised than non offenders and violent offenders more likely to be victims of violence
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Upbringing

Poverty and Disadvantages Neighbourhoods

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Explanations:

  • Family social position (class, ethnicity etc)
  • Individual characteristics (dispositions, self control, truancy, morality etc)
  • Social situation (family and school bonds, parental monitoring etc)
  • Community contexts (neighbourhood disadvantage and school attended etc)

Most important are their individual characteristics and the way they lived

Social disadvantage is not itself a good predictor, but those from lower social class do have more risk factors

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Cognition

Criminal Thinking Patterns

Yochelson and Samenow

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To identify possible thinking patterns common in mentally ill offenders

Over 14 years used interviews on 244 male offenders in psychiatric hospital in US (androcentric, only mentally ill offenders - can't generalise to women or non mentally ill. ethnocentric)

  • Results showed criminals have significantly distinct thinking patterns that differentiate from thinking patterns of non-criminals
  • Offenders are in control of their lives and criminality is a result of choices made at early age
  • Offenders have cognitive processes which lead to distorted self-image and denial of responsibility
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Cognition

Criminal Thinking Patterns

Yochelson and Samenow

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Criminal personality fits into 3 broad categories:

  • Criminal Thinking Patterns - characterised by fear and the need for power and control, search for perfection and lying
  • Automatic Thinking Errors - includes lack of empathy and trust, failure to accept obligations, perception of themselves as the victim
  • Crime-Related Thinking Errors - optimistic fantasising about specific criminal acts with no regard for deterrents.

Findings include:

  • being restless, dissatisfied and irritable
  • want a life of excitement
  • set themselves apart from others
  • lack empathy
  • feel under no obligation to anyone

All this research suggests criminals are not necessarily impulsive in their tendancies, rather they have planned and fantasised about their actions

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Cognition

Moral Development

Kohlberg's Theory

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Level 1 - Pre-morality:

  • Stage 1 - Punishment & obedience - Obeying authority to avoid punishment
  • Stage 2 - Hedonism - Meeting own needs regardless of others, except when favour is expected to be returned

Level 2 - Conventional conformity

  • Stage 3 - Interpersonal concordance - General conformity to what is good and gaining approval of others
  • Stage 4 - Law and order - Social order for its own sake, with deference to social and religious authorities

Level 3 - Autonomous principles

  • Stage 5 - Social contract - Rights acknowledged with laws
  • Stage 6 - Universal ethical principles - Justice, respect and trust may override laws in making moral judgements
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Cognition

Moral Development

Kohlberg's Theory

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It could be argued a criminal's moral development is delayed and that the offender doesn't have the mechanisms to control and resist temptation.

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Cognition

Attribution of Blame

Gudjohnsson

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Identifies 4 types of attributions - dispositional/internal (person) external/situational (environment) mental element and guilt

80 criminals serving sentences in N.Ireland had committed violent crime (ethnocentric, can't generalise to other types of crime)

Findings:

  • Those who had committed sexual offences showed most remorse
  • Little difference between offenders for mental attributes
  • External (situational) attribution highest amongst violent and lowest for sex

Compared with English findings, Irish showed lower mental element, lower guilt and higher external attribution

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Biology

Brain Dysfunction

Raine

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Meta-analysis study - people with low resting heartbeat will seek excitement/danger to raise heartbeat and arousal level i.e. by committing crimes

Research suggesting adolescent brain still forming pre-frontal cortex could explain why criminal activity peaks at this age.

Damage to pre-frontal cortex (e.g. abuse, smoking/drinking in pregnancy, birth complications) can increase likelihood of engaging in criminal activity

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Biology

Brain Dysfunction

Raine

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P's injected with glucose tracer and PET scan used to show pattern of activity in different parts of the brain

Results showed that there were differences in levels of activity in different parts of the brain between murderers and non murderers

Murderers had significantly less levels of activity in the pre-frontal cortex which is linked with a loss of self-control.

Murderers also had less activity in the amygdala which is responsible for fear response.

The results argue that dysfunctions in areas of the brain could be an explanation for why people engage in criminal activity.

However, only explains behaviour for murderers so can't generalise to other crimes.

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Biology

Genes and Serotonin

Brunner et al

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Sample was large Dutch family where males had history of criminal behaviour including sexual assault of sisters, stabbing prison wardens and attempting to run over supervisor - such behaviour not seen in females of family

Analysed urine samples to provide indication on genetic mutations.

Found in the men only that there was a mutated gene on X chromosome resulting in low production of an enzyme which affected neurotransmitters, serotonin and noradrenaline

This research indicates a genetic mutation may result in increased levels of serotonin which seems to be linked with increases in agressive and deviant behaviour

There could be possibility of treatments being developed to restore deficiencies in genes to reduce likelihood of criminal behaviour

BUT research limited to one family - can't generalise?

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Biology

Gender

Daly and Wilson

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Differences in gender and crime could be explained by Daly & Wilson's evolutionary theory

This argues that whilst ancestral women's offspring was limited by pregnancy, lactation and menopause, ancestral men's offspring only depended on number of women he could mate with and because of this men competed with eachother for mating opportunities.

One way they could do this was through acquisition of status and wealth.

A psychological mechanism has developed in men that makes them more likely to engage in criminal behaviour as a way of attracting women

The repeated observation that crimes of violence are most frequently committed by males against other males and homicides are often committed by young men of poor socioeconomic prospects

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Comments

sasha green

Really Helpful, thank you. By any chance do you have notes on sports psychology. Would much rather do something else but we were forced to do sports.

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