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Theories Of Crime by Mind Map: Theories Of Crime
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Theories Of Crime

Learning Theory

Differential Association

Sutherland (1939) suggested offenders develop from 2 things: they need to learn a set of values and attitudes that support offending, and they need to learn specific behaviours for committing crimes. People that surround a developing child will demonstrate a range of attitudes towards the law and crime, some favourable and some unfavourable. Sutherland argued that if the child acquires more attitudes that are favourable to crime than unfavourable ones, the result will be that they regard criminal behaviour as acceptable. For example, they might regard it as unacceptable to rob someone, but acceptable to falsify one’s tax returns., Evidence:A certain amount of evidence suggests that criminal behaviour tends to run in families. Whilst this is frequently offered in support of a genetic contribution to offending some of the evidence is equally consistent with differential association theory. For example, Osborne and West (1982) found that where the father had a criminal conviction, 40% of sons also acquired one by the age of 18, compared with only 13% of the sons of non-criminal fathers, Evaluation: Whilst all of this is consistent with differential association theory, Blackburn (1993) raises two problems. First, this pattern seems confined to petty acts of criminality such as vandalism. Second, because the data are correlational it is equally likely that adolescents with deviant tendencies seek out deviant peers. A further problem with differential association theory is that some of its constructs are rather vaguely specified.A final problems for differential association theory is that it does not adequately explain the developmental pattern of offending. Criminal behaviour in adolescence is relatively common: 40% of offences are committed by people under 21 years and about half of males and a third of females report having committed at least one offence before the age of 25 (Newburn, 2002). However, offending declines rapidly after adolescence: many youth offenders do not remain offenders in adulthood. It is not clear how differential association theory could explain this pattern.

Social Learning Theory

Bandura’s theory suggests behaviour of all kinds is learned through the observation of models. Models are selected on the basis of a range of characteristics including attractiveness, status and perceived similarity with the observer. Whether or not a model’s behaviour is imitated depends on the observed consequences of their actions. If the model is observed to be reinforced then imitation becomes likely. If the model is punished then imitation becomes less likely., Evidence: from a series of classic laboratory studies carried out by Bandura. These studies focused on children’s acquisition of aggressive responses from adult models. Children were shown an adult model behaving aggressively towards an inflatable ‘bobo’ doll. The model was either reinforced or punished for her behaviour. A control group saw the model behave aggressively but with no consequence, good or bad. When the children were allowed to play in a room that contained a bobo doll, those who had seen the model punished were significantly less likely to imitate her actions. A natural experiment by Williams (1986) examined children’s levels of aggression before and after the introduction of television into an isolated community. Williams found that over a two year period aggression in this community’s children rose steadily whilst in a similar community where there already was television there was no increase., Evaluation: we should be cautious about assuming that the processes demonstrated in the laboratory apply in the same way outside it. In the absence of evidence that criminality is 100% genetic it is fairly obvious that learning plays a role in offending. But SLT has little to say about the conditions under which violence and criminality are learned. It also underplays the role of cognition in criminal behaviour.

Media-Aggression Hypothesis

Early studies such as Bandura'a suggested children can learn to behave in an aggressive way through observing aggression in the media., Evidence: Berkowitz showed pps violent or non-violent films. later were allowed to electrocute others and the ones that watched the violent films gave more shocks. hypothesis is that aggressive media content and aggressive behaviour are linked., Evaluation: the evidence regarding the effect on media violence and aggressive behaviour is unclear and it shouldn't be stated that they are directly linked.


Criminal Thinking Patterns

Yochelson “criminal personality”

criminality is an attribute of personality. they believe that criminal behaviour is due to the role of biases and errors in thinking. they suggest personality develops over a lifespan and is heavily influenced by parent-child interaction. from 240 interviews with male offenders they say the criminal personality features forty thinking errors., Evaluation: They did not compare their sample to a matched control group therefore they have not established whether the forty characteristics occur in the non-criminal population also.

Kohlberg & Moral Development

Kohlberg based his theory upon research and interviews with groups of young children. A series of moral dilemmas were presented to children, who were then interviewed to determine the reasoning behind their judgments of each scenario. Kohlberg was not interested so much in the answer to the question of whether Heinz was wrong or right, but in the reasoning for the participants decision. The responses were then classified into various stages of reasoning in his theory of moral development. • Stage 1 - Obedience and Punishment o At this stage, children see rules as fixed and absolute. Obeying the rules is important because it is a means to avoid punishment. • Stage 2 - Individualism and Exchange o At this stage of moral development, children account for individual points of view and judge actions based on how they serve individual needs. Level 2. Conventional Morality • Stage 3 - Interpersonal Relationships o Often referred to as the "good boy-good girl" orientation, this stage of moral development is focused on living up to social expectations and roles. • Stage 4 - Maintaining Social Order o At this stage of moral development, people begin to consider society as a whole when making judgments. The focus is on maintaining law and order by following the rules, doing one’s duty, and respecting authority. Level 3. Postconventional Morality • Stage 5 - Social Contract and Individual Rights o At this stage, people begin to account for the differing values, opinions, and beliefs of other people. Rules of law are important for maintaining a society, but members of the society should agree upon these standards. • Stage 6 - Universal Principles o Kolhberg’s final level of moral reasoning is based upon universal ethical principles and abstract reasoning. At this stage, people follow these internalized principles of justice, even if they conflict with laws and rules., Evaluation: • Kohlberg's theory is concerned with moral thinking, but there is a big difference between knowing what we ought to do versus our actual actions. • Kohlberg's theory of moral development overemphasizes the concept as justice when making moral choices. Other factors such as compassion, caring, and other interpersonal feelings may play an important part in moral reasoning. • Individualistic cultures emphasize personal rights while collectivistic cultures stress the importance of society and community. Eastern cultures may have different moral outlooks that Kohlberg's theory does not account for.

Rational Choice Theory

RCT views offending behaviour as involving decision making and the making of choices, which are constrained by time, cognitive ability and information, resulting in a 'limited' rather than a 'normal' rationality for the offender. The premise is that the decisions and factors that affect offender decision making vary greatly at both the different stages of the offence and among different offences. Cornish and Clarke (1998) therefore stress the need to be crime-specific when analysing offender decision making and choice selection, and to treat separately decisions relating to the various stages of involvement in offences., Evaluation: Rettig gave students a hypothetical situation giving opportunity to commit a crime.he gave them information and found degree of punishment exerted the most influence on the students to commit the crime. However these are experiments and simulations using students therefore may not apply to real offenders.


Labelling Theory

Based on the idea that society's reaction to deviance has consequences for the future behaviour of the deviant person. if someone is labelled as a criminal. the person is then treated as a criminal and adopt this label 'criminal' as part of their self image and this affects their future behaviour., Evaluation: The main concept of this theory is that the individual incorporates the label into their self-concept therefore we would expect delinquents to contain more deviant elements than those of non-offenders. Ageton and Elliot examined the self concepts of adolescent boys who had never come into contact with the police. those who were subsequently arrested adopted delinquent self-descriptions whilst concepts of young boys not labelled by the police stayed the same. Blackburn suggests labelling-theory over-simplifies the relationship between attitudes, self-concept and behaviours.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

This is a prediction that comes true because it has been made. Eg if a teacher thinks a child is unintelligent they may devote less time to them and then the child will lose motivation and he will therefore confirm the prediction made originally., Evidence: Meichenbaum conducted a study using female juvenile delinquents. teachers were told 6 from a class of 14 were late developers and then observed. they found the teachers began to behave differently towards these girls and these girls performed better in examinations than matched controls., Evaluation: However beyond a few isolated studies little research has concentrated solely on the self fulfilling prophecy in causing criminal behaviour.