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Chapter 6 Trait Theory

Chapter 6 Trait Theory. Criminology 8 th edition Larry J. Siegel. QUESTION. Do you think that people who commit crime are physically or mentally abnormal?. TRAIT THEORIES. Trait theories are made up of biosocial and psychological theories.

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Chapter 6 Trait Theory

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  1. Chapter 6Trait Theory Criminology 8th edition Larry J. Siegel © 2003 Wadsworth Publishing Co.

  2. QUESTION Do you think that people who commit crime are physically or mentally abnormal?

  3. TRAIT THEORIES • Trait theories are made up of biosocial and psychological theories. • The primary focus of trait theories is human behavior and the link to anti-social behavior, i.e., aggression, violence, and criminality.

  4. Biological and Psychological Traits • Both biological and psychological traits have been linked to criminal behavior, but notas causallinkages. • It is the “multiple factor” approach or the interaction of mental and physical traits with environmental and social factors that either suppress or trigger criminal behavior. • The focus is generally on persistent or chronic offenders.

  5. Foundations of Biological Trait Theory Biological explanation of criminal behavior first became popular during the middle part of the 19th Century with the introduction of positivism. What is positivism?

  6. Positivism • Positivism rejects the concept of free will. • Crime can only be understood if it is studied by the scientific method. • Human behavior is a function of internal andexternal forces, i.e., social, biological, psychological, or economic forces.

  7. Early Positivists • Early positivists included: • Lombroso (belief that certain physical characteristics indicate a criminal nature). • Garofalo (certain physical characteristics and psychological characteristics indicate criminal nature). • Ferri (belief in biological, social and organic factors as a cause of crime and delinquency). • Sheldon (belief in body types which were susceptible to certain types of delinquent behavior).

  8. Methodology Testing Logic Problems With Early Positivist Theories The research of the earliest positivists (who were biologists) was plagued by poor:

  9. Biosocial Trait Theories • Biochemical Conditions and Crime • Neurophysiological Conditions and Crime • Genetics and Crime • Evolutionary Views and Crime

  10. Principles of Biosocial Trait Theories • Genetic makeup contributes significantly to human behavior. • Not all humans are born with equal potential to learn and achieve. • This combinationproduces individual human behavior patterns.

  11. QUESTION How does a biosocial theorists explain learning?

  12. CAUSE STRENGTHS Crime, especially violence, is a function of diet, vitamin intake, hormonal imbalance, or food allergies. Explains irrational violence. Shows how the environment interacts with personal traits to influence behavior. Biosocial Theory:Biochemical Perspective

  13. QUESTION Is there a link between sugar and antisocial behavior? Is there a link between hormones and antisocial behavior?

  14. Biochemical Considerations • Aggression and criminal behavior have been linked to diet. Some believe sugar intake is one culprit. If this is true, to what extent is behavior voluntarily induced by these foods?

  15. CAUSE STRENGTHS Criminals and delinquents often suffer brain impairment, as measured by the EEG. Attention deficit disorder and minimum brain dysfunction are related to antisocial behavior. Explains irrational violence. Shows how the environment interacts with personal traits to influence behavior. Biosocial Theory:Neurological Perspective

  16. If the medical community tells us that neurological impairment was related to violent crime can the offender be held accountable? If research in the community finds similar impairments in non-offenders, does this change the issue of culpability among offenders who have the impairment? Neurological Impairment

  17. CAUSE STRENGTHS Criminal traits and predispositions are inherited. The criminality of parents can predict the delinquency of children. Explains why only a small percentage of youth in a high-crime area become chronic offenders. Biosocial Theory:Genetic Perspective

  18. CAUSE STRENGTHS As the human race evolved, traits and characteristics have become ingrained. Some of these make people aggressive and predisposed to commit crime. Explains high violence rates and aggregate gender differences in the crime rate. Biosocial Theory:Evolutionary Perspective

  19. QUESTION It there is a biological basis to violence and aggression – then how would a biosocial theorist explain white collar crime?

  20. Criticisms If there are biological explanations for street crimes then by implication biological theory says that member of groups are biologically different, flawed or inferior Response Rather than suggest that there are born criminals and non-criminals, proponents maintain that some people carry the potential to be violent or antisocial and that environmental conditions can sometimes trigger antisocial responses Evaluation of Biosocial Trait Theory

  21. Psychodynamic Behavioral Cognitive Social Learning Mental Illness and crime Personality and Crime Intelligence and Crime PSYCHOLOGICAL TRAIT THEORIES

  22. Major Premise….. The development of the unconscious personality early in childhood influence behavior for the rest of a person’s life. Criminals have weak egos and damaged personalities i.e., anger, sexuality, tendencies. Created by Sigmund Freud. Strengths…. Explains the onset of crime and why crime and drug abuse cut across class lines. Psychological Theory:Psychodynamic Perspective

  23. Major Premise….. People commit crime when they model their behavior after others they see being rewarded for the same acts. Behavior is reinforced by rewards and extinguished by punishment, i.e., learning processes. Strengths…. Explains the role of significant others in the crime process. Shows how family life and media can influence crime and violence. Psychological Theory:Behavioral Perspective

  24. An event that heightens arousal Behavior and values become consistent Learned aggressive skills Expected outcomes - rewards Social Learning Theory(Life Experiences) Factors that help produce violence and aggression.

  25. Major Premise….. Individual reasoning processes influence behavior. Reasoning is influenced by the way people perceive their environment and by their moral and intellectual development, i.e., thinking, memory, ethical values. Strengths…. Shows why criminal behavior patterns change over time as people mature and develop their moral reasoning. May explain aging-out process. Psychological Theory:Cognitive Theory

  26. Crime and Mental Illness A great deal of early research efforts found that many offenders who engage in serious, violent crimes suffer from some sort of mental disturbance. However, empirical evidence has contradicted this. Research shows that upon release, prisoners who had prior histories of hospitalization for mental disorders were less likely to be rearrested than those who had never been hospitalized. Mentally disordered inmates who do recidivate upon release appear to do so for the same reasons as the mentally sound.

  27. Personality and Crime - Trait Personality can be defined as the reasonably stable patterns of behavior, including thoughts and emotions that distinguish one person from another. Personality reflects a characteristic way of adapting to life’s demands and problems. Psychopaths Sociopaths Anti-Social Personalities I Abnormal Affect

  28. Intelligence and Crime What is the difference between nature theory and nurture theory? Do you think IQ and crime are linked? If so, why are there more male than female criminals? Or, Why does “aging out” occur?

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