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Theories of Criminal Behaviour

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  1. Theories of Criminal Behaviour

  2. Biological Roots of Criminal Behavior

  3. Major Principles of Biological Theories •  The brain is the organ of the mind and the locus of personality • The basic determinants of human behavior are constitutionally or genetically based • Observed gender and racial differences in rates and types of criminality may be at least partially the result of biological differences between the sexes and/or between racially distinct groups

  4. Major Principles of Biological Theories  • The basic determinants of human behavior may be passed on from generation to generation • Much of human conduct is fundamentally rooted in instinctive behavioral responses characteristic of biological organisms everywhere • The interplay between heredity, biology, and the social environment provides the nexus for any realistic consideration of crime causation

  5. Lombroso in 1876 argued that the criminal is a separate species, a species that is between modern and primitive humans. He argued that the physical shape of the head and face determined the "born criminal". Early Biological Theories

  6. Early Biological Theories • Lombroso studied and measured the bodies of executed and deceased offenders as well as examining living inmates to locate physical differences or abnormalities • Claimed to have found a variety of bodily features predictive of criminal behavior • Long arms, large teeth, ears lacking lobes, lots of body hair • Also identified characteristics of particular types of offenders

  7. Early Biological Theories • Constitutional Theories • WilliamSheldon • Used body measurement techniques to connect body type with personality and outlined four basic body types and associated temperaments and personalities

  8. Body types • people could be classified into three body shapes, which correspond with three different personality types. • endomorphic (fat and soft) tend to be sociable and relaxed. • ectomorphic (thin and fragile) are introverted and restrained • mesomorphic (muscular and hard) tend to be aggressive and adventurous. • Sheldon, using a correlational study, found that many convicts were mesomorphic, and they were least likely to be ectomorphic

  9. Endomorph, Mesomorph, Ectomorph,

  10. Modern Biological Theories • Biochemical (diet, hypoglycemia, hormones, environmental exposure) • Neurophysiological (brain dysfunction) • Evolutionary theories

  11. Modern Biological Theories • Hormones and criminality • Testosterone • Male sex hormone linked to aggression • Research has shown a relationship between high blood testosterone levels and increase male aggression • Low brain levels of serotonin • Genetics and Crime: XYY Supermale • Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes • The last pair determines gender • Males: XY pair • Females: XX pair • A study of Scottish prisoners found that a small number had an XYY chromosome.These were identified as potentially violent and labeled “supermale” • Criminal Families • criminal families appeared to show criminal tendencies through several generations

  12. Modern Biological Theories • Weather and Crime • Temperature is the only weather variable consistently and reliably related to crime • Positive correlation between temperature and violent crime • Moderated by factors such as time of day, day of week and season. Cohn and Rotton have found temperature to be related to crimes such as assault, property offenses, domestic violence and disorderly conduct • Chemical and environmental precursors of crime (nutrition, eating habits, and environmental contaminants related to violent and/or disruptive behavior)

  13. Psychological approach to the study of crime

  14. Psychological Perspectives on Criminality

  15. Psychoanalytic Theory • Sigmund Freud (1856–1939): One can understand human behavior best by examining early childhood experiences. • Criminality is linked to guilt feelings (unresolved oedipal and Electra complexes).

  16. Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) • Human behaviour is governed by primitive urges (eros and thanatos) of the ID. • ID requires repression which results in formation of Ego and Superego.

  17. Freudian Explanations of Delinquency • Human nature is inherently antisocial • Id: infants start life with antisocial drives • Superego: forms from experience • Ego: helps to negotiate demands for instant gratification with acceptable behavior

  18. Freudian Elements of Personality

  19. Psychoanalytic interpretations • 3 Main principles of psychodynamic theory when applied to delinquent + criminal behaviour are that delinquent behavior can be traced to faulty relationships in the family during the first years of life • These faulty relationships result in inadequate ego and superego development • These inadequacies in turn make it impossible for the child to control later delinquent impulses

  20. Freudian Approach • John Bowlby (1946) studied 44 juvenile delinquents and compared them with non-criminal disturbed juveniles. • 39% of the delinquents had experienced complete separation from their mothers for six-months or more during the first five years of their lives compared with 5% of the control group. • early maternal deprivation was causally related to delinquent behaviour

  21. Erik Erikson (1902-84) • Stage theorist. • During adolescence identity vs. role confusion stage may result in identity crisis. • Out-of-control behaviours (e.g. drug experimentation) reflect identity crisis.

  22. Behavioural Theories

  23. Social Learning Theory Aggression • Is learned, not innate. • Requires personal observation of aggression or rewards for aggression. • Involves behaviour modelling of family members, community members and mass media • Three types of learning • Classical conditioning • Operant conditioning • Observational (vicarious) learning

  24. Principles of Learning • Positive reinforcement: increases the target behavior by rewarding the individual • Negative reinforcement: increases the target behavior by removing an unpleasant stimulus • Punishment: reduces the odds of the target behavior being repeated

  25. Behavioural explanations of crime • All behaviour is learned - deviant behaviour is said to be learnt in much the same way as other behaviour • Direct parental control: theorists tie delinquency to parents’ failure to effectively condition their children away from negative behaviors • Glueck and Glueck: inconsistent and harsh punishment correlates with delinquent children • Patterson: effective parenting (monitoring, punishing, and reinforcing behavior) correlates with nondeliquent children

  26. Principles of Learning

  27. Violence and aggression are produced by An arousal event (provocation). Learned aggressive skills. Expected success and rewards. Pro-violence values. Albert Bandura

  28. Bandura • Observational learning is thought to take place primarily in three contexts: • 1. In the family • 2. In the prevalent sub culture • 3. Through cultural symbols such as television and books. • Observational learning:This is where viewers learn behaviours from watching others and may imitate them; many behaviours are learned from the media • - Models:A model is a person who is observed and/or imitated.

  29. show preschoolers a short film of a person beating up a bobo doll. They were shown the short film twice, but there were three different endings watched by three different groups of children. First photo shown is the demonstrated short film with a person beating up a bobo doll. The second photo shown is what the preschoolers did after they watched the short film. Bobo doll experiments

  30. Media and Crime • Does media (TV and movies) influence aggression, violence, and criminal behavior? • Conducive to role modeling: • Perpetrators not punished • Targets of violence show little pain • Few long-term negative consequences

  31. Media and Violence • Media provides aggressive scripts. • Violence is copied. • TV violence increases arousal level. • TV violence promotes attitude change, suspicious feelings. • TV violence promotes justification for violence. • Media violence may disinhibit aggressive behaviour.

  32. Policy Implications of Behaviorism • Criminals can learn pro-social behaviors to replace criminal actions

  33. Cognitive Theory

  34. Humans’ ability to engage in complex thoughts influences behavior Cognitions (like behaviors) can be learned Focus on Cognitive structure (how people think) Cognitive content (what people think) Cognitive Psychology

  35. Cognitive Structure • Kohlberg's theory of moral reasoning: humans advance through predictable stages of moral reasoning • delinquency is not synonymous with immoral behaviour • the reasoning of higher moral stages is less likely to fit in with a criminal lifestyle • justification for violating the law can be found at all stages

  36. Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development (1 of 2) • Stage 1 • Right is blindly obeying those with power and authority. • Emphasis is on avoiding punishment. • Interests of others are not considered. • Stage 2 • Right is furthering one’s own interests. • Interests of others are important only as a way to satisfy self-interests. • Stage 3 • Moral reasoning is motivated by loyalties to others and a desire to live up to other’s standards.

  37. Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development (2 of 2) • Stage 4 • Right is following the rules of society and maintaining important social institutions (e.g., family, community). • Stage 5 • Moral decisions are made by weighing individual rights against legal principles and the common good. • Stage 6 • Moral decisions are based on universal principles (e.g., human dignity, desire for justice). • Principles are considered across different contexts and are independent of the law.

  38. Moral Development Research shows that • Criminals tend to be in stages 1 and 2. • Non-criminals are in higher stages. • People in lower stages fear punishment. • People in middle stages fear reaction of family and friends. • People in highest stages believe in duty to others, universal rights.

  39. Cognitive Content • Rationalizations or denials that support criminal behavior • For example, a criminal thinks, “I’m not really hurting anyone.” • Criminals are more likely to express such thoughts, but the relationship (causation or correlation) to crime is unclear. • Extremely common for sex offenders

  40. Policy Implications of Cognitive Psychology • Cognitive theory translates easily into practice. • Cognitive skills programs teach offenders cognitive skills like moral reasoning, anger management, or self-control. • Cognitive restructuring attempts to change the content of an individual’s thoughts. • Combination cognitive-behavioral programs have had significant success.

  41. Personality traits theory

  42. Eysenck’s Theory of Personality Argued against sociological theories. Criminal behavior resulted from an interaction of environment and biology. Based on biology. Personality = Temperament (inborn/genetic)

  43. Neurotic Choleric Melancholic Central NS Intoverted Extraverted Ambiverts Peripheral NS Phlegmatic Sanguine Stable

  44. Eysenck’s Personality Theory Suggests that high levels of introvertism and extrovertism can be related to crime. Also introduced a P scale (psychoticism) to predict criminal behaviour.

  45. definitions • stable extraverts (sanguine qualities such as - outgoing, talkative, responsive, easygoing, lively, carefree, leadership) • unstable extraverts (choleric qualities such as - touchy, restless, excitable, changeable, impulsive, irresponsible) • stable introverts (phlegmatic qualities such as - calm, even-tempered, reliable, controlled, peaceful, thoughtful, careful, passive) • unstable introverts (melancholic qualities such as - quiet, reserved, pessimistic, sober, rigid, anxious, moody).

  46. Extraversion - Introversion Reflects “need for stimulation”. Extraverts like excitement, become bored more easily, welcome the unconventional Criminals are more likely to be extraverts Impulsive Thrill-seeking Willing to take chances May be less able to internalize society’s rules – i.e., less ‘conditionable’.

  47. Neurotic -Stable and Crime Criminals are more likely to be neurotic: Emotionality acts as a drive to habitual ways of responding. When under stress – do what you know best. Impacts criminality only if the individual has developed anti-social ‘habits’. More important factor as one ages (habits become more engrained)

  48. Psychoticism Is not the same as “psychosis” No established physiological mechanism but testosterone, monoamine oxidase and serotonin may be involved. Similar to Primary Psychopathy Cold cruelty, social insensitivity, dislike of others, attraction to the ‘unusual.