Turning To Crime

All studies from Turning to Crime Forensic Psychology - Biology, Upbringing, Cognition.

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UPBRINGING - Disrupted Families

FARRINGTON - 'The Cambridge Study'
Many argue that biggest influence on behaviour is family. More likely to express criminal behaviour if family member is a criminal. Deterministic view - ignores individual differences.
Aim:
To track the start, duration and end of offending behaviour in families. To investigate the influence on criminal and antisocial behaviour of life events: risk factors, protective factors, intergenerational transmission.
Method: Prospective longitudinal survey
Sample:
411 boys from 6 state schools in South London.
Procedure: Data collected on parents and boys. Interviewed and tested at intervals over 24 years.
Results: 40% convicted of criminal offence, worst offenders from large multiproblem families. 7% defined as chronic offenders - accounted for half the officially recorded offences during course of the study. All convicted before and after the age of 21 - described as persisters. Desisters were those convicted up to age of 20. More likely to have a convicted parent, be highly daring, have a delinquent sibling, young mother, low popularity and large family size. Criteria of life success - judge whether they successfully turned away from crime. Proportion of men leading successful lives increased with age; desisters no different from unconvicted in later life.
Conclusion: Offenders tend to be deviant in many areas of their lives. Risk factors = poverty, impulsiveness, poor upbringing, poor performance in school. Early intervention could reduce criminal behaviour.
Evaluation: Longitudinal, large sample size, quantitative and qualitative data, only from one area/ type of people, generalisability, reliability, high validity, useful application, reductionist, deterministic, situational, nature-nurture.

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UPBRINGING - Learning from Others

AKERS, KROHN, LANZA-KADICE, RODOSEVICH  - ‘Social Learning and deviant behaviour: a specific test of a general theory’
Family isn't the only influence on criminality groups - friendship groups affect it. Mostly in adolescence.
Aim: Test social learning theory of deviant behaviour on adolescent drinking and drug behaviour.
Method: Self-report, cross-sectional survey
Sample: 2500 male and female adolescents attending grade 7-12 (aged 13-18) in 3 Midwestern states.
Procedure: Parental permission obtained for administration of questionnaire about abstinence from/ use of alcohol and marijuana. DV = abstinence/ use of alcohol on 6-point frequency scale. Predictor variables = imitation index (admired models using substance), Definitions (approval/disapproval), differential association (attitudes from others, peers using), differential reinforcement (social) (encouragement, reward/ punishment from others), differential reinforcement (positive/ negative outcomes).
Results: strong support for SLT of adolescent alcohol and drug behaviour. Explains 55% variance in drinking and 68% variance in marijuana use. Factors have strong explanatory power regarding use, does not explain differences between. Imitation = least predictive. Differential peer association = most effective.
Conclusion: Imitation = main concept of SLT - it is broader than this. Supports Sutherland's theory that differential asssociation and definitions of acceptable/ unacceptable behaviour are key to understanding behaviour development. Peer group influence is high.
Evaluation: Self-report method, social desirability, large sample size, use of interviews, qualitative+quantitative, low reliability - subjective, useful application, ethical issues - labelling people

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UPBRINGING - Poverty and Disadvantaged

Wikström & Tafel 'The Peterborough Youth Study’
Socio-economic deprivation = explanation for crime of theft. Not all - I.D
Aim: To explore the link between disadvantage and crime in young people in Peterborough.
Method: Cross-sectional study, interview and data collection.
Sample: Approx. 2000 Year 10 (ages 14-15) students from 13 state schools in Peterborough.
Procedure: 2000 questionnaires given to boys and girls - 83% return rate. Predictive factors of crime: family social position (class, ethnicity and family composition), individual characteristics (self-control, morality, social situation, family and school bonds, parental monitoring), social situation, lifestyle and routtine activities and community context. Individual youth characteristics = most important: weak family + school bonds, poor parenting and truancy, weak morality (anti-social values, low levels of shame, poor self-control).
Results: 44.8% of boys and 30.6% of girls committed at least one: violence, vandalism, shop-lifting, burglary, theft of cars or from cars in year 2000.  9.8% of boys and 3.8% of girls committed a serious crime. 1 in 8 reported/ caught. Offenders more victimised than non-offenders - violent offenders more likely to be a victim of violence.
Conclusion: PROPERTY INDUCED - high-risk factors, LIFESTYLE DEPENDENT - offending depends on lifestyle, SITUATIONALLY LIMITED - Well adjusted, may offend if lifestyle exposes to high levels of situational risk.
Evaluation: Holistic, useful, unrepresentative sample = not as generalisable, quantitative data, no qualitative data.

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COGNITION - Criminal Thinking Patterns

Yochelson & Samenow (1976) - ‘A study of thinking patterns in criminals'
Criminals must be able to rationalise their behaviour and decide benefits outweigh costs. Assumes that criminals must think differently to law-abiding citizens.
Aim: To understand make-up of criminal personality; to establish techniques to alter personality disorders producing criminality; to encourage an understanding of legal responsibility; to establish effective techniques preventing criminal behaviour. 
Sample: 255 male participants - those confined to hospital (insanity, incapable of guilt mens rea) and those who did not use the plea. No control group.  
Results: Restless, dissatisfied and irritable; set themselves apart from others, want excitement, lack empathy, no obligation to others, poor at responsible decision making. Only 30 completedd programme; 9 genuinely changed. Freudian-based therapy was used. Patients lied (social desirability/ halo effect). Emphasis changed to examining thinking process.
Conclusion: 52 thinking patterns distinguished in criminal personality. Thought to be displayed more by criminals. No control = not possible to be certain about this as non-criminals may show these errors as well.
Evaluation: longitudinal, cognitive, psychodynamic, individual differences, determinism, individual/ situational, attrition, social desirability, avoids ethnocentrism.

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COGNITION - Moral Development & Crime

KOHLBERG - 'Moral Development in Children'
Morals are a set of norms and values which we usually learn from our parents. Norms allow us to distinguish what is right and wrong. Criminal responsibility is 10 in the UK - should know difference between right and wrong.
Aim:
To find evidence in support of a progression through stages of moral development.

Method: Self-report interview
Sample: 58 boys from Chicago of working/ middle class - 7, 10, 13, 16 years.
Procedure: 2-hour interview with 10 dilemmas to solve. Stages of moral development:1 - Punishment and obedience orientation, 2- Hedonistic orientation, 3 - Interpersonal concordance orientation, 4 - Law and order orientation, 5 - Social contact or legalistic orientation, 6 - Universal ethical principles orientation.
Results: Younger boys performed at stage 1+2, older boys at stage 3+4 - supports development through stages. Consistent in cross-cultural studies. No support for stage 6 - revised this view = no separate stage.
Conclusion: Support across cultures for stage theory. Recent replications with criminal samples suggest stages can be applied to types of criminality.
Evaluation: Cross-cultures= representative, not ethnocentric. Low ecological validity - respond differently to task than they would in real life situations. Snapshot study - findings could be due to individual differences rather than age difference - longitudinal study would investigate changes over time. Longitudinal, determinism, nature-nurture, situational, ethnocentric, attrition, social desirability, useful applications

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COGNITION - Social Cognition

GUDJOHNSSON & BOWNES - 'The attribution of blame and type of crime committed'
The attribution theory is the explanation that we all justify our behaviours using internal and external attributions. It is systematically biased - over emphasis on dispositional rather than situational factors. Self-serving bias is an internal attribution when we accept full responsibility for our behaviour and see cause within self; external = blame others.
Aim:
To examine the relationship between the type of crime committed and the attributions made about the criminal act.

Method: Use 42-item Blame Attribution Inventory to measure offender's type of offence and attribution of blame on 3 dimensions - internal/external, mental element and guilt.
Sample: 80 criminals in Northern Ireland - 20 violent offenders mean age of 29,  (homicide, GBH), 40 sex offenders (rapists, paedophiles(41), sexual assault(28))  20 property offenders mean = 29 (theft, burglary).
Results: Sexual offenders = most remorse. Little difference in mental element. Highest score for external attribution in violent offences. Irish offenders = lower mental element and guilt, and higher external attribution in violent offences compared to english criminals,
Conclusion: Strong consistency with earlier findings across offender groups - showed srong consistency in ways offenders attributet blame. Difference in violent criminals - result of violence in Northern Ireland.
Evaluation: Useful, not ethnocentrics, doesn't describe exact procedure, quantitative data collected, determinism, reductionist, situational, social desirability, extraneous variables.

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BIOLOGY - Brain Dysfunction

RAINE - 'Understanding the development of antisocial behaviour in children'
Lombroso's theory of anthropological criminology stated that criminality was inherited. More modern theories place more emphasis on environmental factors.
Aim:
To make a multi-factorial approach of understanding antisocial and aggressive behaviour in children.

Method: Review article
Procedure: Meta-analysis of a selection of articles covering neuropsychological, neurological and brain-imaging studies - relate to antisocial behaviour through a child's development.
Results: Low resting heart rate = predictor of an individual who will seek excitement to raise arousal level = fearless temperament. Adolescent brain forming connections in pre-frontal lobes until early 20s. Activity in pre-frontal lobes ins lower in impulsive individuals who are likely to be antisocial and aggressive. Birth complications and poor parenting with physical abuse, malnutrition, smoking and drinking during pregnancy add to risk.
Conclusion: Early intervention and prevention = effective way of reversing biological deficits that predispose to antisocial and aggressive behaviour.
Evaluation: Review article - studies may not be reliable. Reductionist - only accounts for biological factors, subject to interpretation - mainly qualitative data.

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BIOLOGY - Genes and Serotonin

Brunner et al - 'A study of violence in a family with a genetic abnormality'
Price - suggested males with extra Y chromosome (XXY) were predisposed to violent crime - above average height; below average intelligence. Cristiansen - looked at 3586 twin pairs. 52% concordance rate for monozygotic twins; 22% concordance rate for dizygotic twins. If genetic = 100% concordance as genes are the same.
Aim:
To explain why males from a family were affected by a syndrome of borderline mental retardation and abnormal violent behaviour (impulsive aggression, arson, attempted ****, exhibitionism).

Method: Case study, Sample: 5 affected males from family in the Netherlands.
Procedure: Data collected from analysis of urine samples over a 24 hour period.
Results: Disturbed monoamine metabolism associated with a deficit of the enzyme monoamine oxidase A (MAOA). Mutation identified in X chromosome of the gene responsible for the production of MAOA.
Conclusion: MAOA involved in serotonin metabolism. Impaired metabolism = responsible for mental retardation = aggressive behaviour. Associated with behavioural phenotype that accounts for inability to regulate aggression.
Evaluation: Small sample, doesn't explain why not all males were violent, reductionist, deterministic, not generalisable, valid - urine samples are scientific = valid conclusion.

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BIOLOGY - Gender

DALY & WILSON - 'Investigation of gender-related life expectancy'
Young males appear in crime statistics most often in all cultures. Figures for females are lower. Male hormone testosterone = factor in male violence - influences level of aggression.
 Aim: To find out if homicide rates would vary according to local life expectancy in Chicago.

Method: Correlational study
Sample: Local life-expectancy ranged from 54.3 - 77.4 years.
Procedure: Survey data from police records, school records and local demographic records used. Local area life expectancies compared to homicide rates.
Results: Homicide rates varied from 1.3 to 156 homicides per 100000 persons per annum. Strong correlation between life expectancy and homicide rates (-0.88) = lower life expectancy correlated with higher homicide rates. School absenteeism negatively correlated with higher homicide rates.
Conclusion: Younger men from disadvantaged - expected to live shorter lives - more likely to engage in risky behaviour. 'Short-term horizon' want instant gratification. Discounted future, expected shorter lifes = risky behaviour. Absenteeism - see little point in school. Truancy - parents unwilling to invest in child's education. Could be explained by social factors.
Evaluation: No cause and effect, explains gender differences. Males more likely to take risks - evolutionary psychology. Valid - saliva samples are objective = conclusive, correlation - no cause and effect. Doesn't prove.

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