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Theories of Offending


Psychology A-Level AQA Theories of Offending
Mind Map by harriet.l, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by harriet.l over 6 years ago

Resource summary

Theories of Offending
  1. Early Biological
    1. Atavism
      1. Lombroso (1876) argued that offenders are a separate species, a primitive genetic form.
        1. Convicts have distinct physical anomalies e.g. large jaw, extra hair, sloping brow etc.
          1. Criminals are born, not made.
            1. Leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy - possessing the physical characteristics lead the person to be treated in a certain way, so they act that way.
              1. Study
                1. Lombroso sampled proportions of 38 skulls of dead criminals and the heads of 3,839 living ones.
                  1. He didn't suggest that all criminal acts are carried out by those with atavistic constitutions, but concluded that about 40% could be accounted for in this way.
                  2. Evaluation
                    1. The stereotype of a criminal look has implications in everyday life e.g. prejudicing a jury.
                      1. Criminality & certain facial characteristics can be affected by confounding factors e.g. poverty/poor nutrition. So, not just down to biological factors or genetics.
                        1. Lombroso later edited his theory, stating it could be due to environmental factors.
                          1. The sample may have contained those with learning difficulties - sample not representative as these individuals may share certain characteristics.
                            1. No scientific foundation - Goring (1913) compared features of 3,000 convicts and a control group. He found little support for the theory.
                              1. Can't establish cause & effect - self-fulfilling prophecy.
                                1. Racial undertones - features identified typical of those of African origin. Even today same views exist. Rushton argues higher crime rates in afro-carribbean people are due to genetic differences in IQ and social disorganisation.
                              2. Somatotypes
                                1. Endomorph: soft, fat, round, social/relaxed.
                                  1. Ectomorph: skinny, fragile, shy, introvert.
                                    1. Mesomorph: hard, muscular, aggressive, CRIMINAL.
                                      1. Study
                                        1. 200 photos of delinquents and 200 photos of a control group (students) rated for mesomorphy on a scale of 1-7. Sheldon rated photographs himself.
                                          1. Average delinquent rating 4.6, non-delinquent 3.8.
                                            1. Conclusion: delinquency is associated with a mesomorphic body shape.
                                            2. Evaluation
                                              1. Lack of scientific evidence. However, paved the way for later biological theories and greater understanding of offending behaviour.
                                                1. Established and reinforces criminal stereotypes - affects how people are treated in society e.g. interviews, jury.
                                                  1. High testosterone may lead to aggression and body shape - offending may be due to hormones that would also affect body type.
                                                    1. Some research supports the link between body shape and criminality, some doesn't.
                                                      1. Sheldons research criticised as he didn't use legal classification for deliquency, he classified them himself. Study repeated using legal criteria, didn't show the link.
                                                        1. No causal link - self-fulfilling prophecy.
                                                    2. Biological
                                                      1. Genetics
                                                        1. MZ & DZ twins used to determine if criminality is genetic - if genetic we'd expect greater similarity between MZ than DZ.
                                                          1. Lange (1929) found MZ concordance rate of 77% & DZ concordance rate of 12% - suggesting criminality is inherited.
                                                            1. Study
                                                              1. Grove et al. interviewed 31 pairs of separated MZ twins. behaviour was assessed at average age of 43. Scored for drug & alcohol problems & anit-social behaviour.
                                                                1. Drug & anti-social score showed significant heritability. concordance rate for anti-social personality disorder (APD) was 29%.
                                                                  1. Conclusion: traits have a substantial genetic component.
                                                                  2. Evaluation
                                                                    1. Twin studies support a genetic component, but also indicate environment may have an influence as even MZ twins don't show 100% concordance - other factors play a role.
                                                                      1. Early twin studies unreliable as not always properly determined as MZ or DZ and & not always separated.
                                                                        1. MZ twins share more similar environment - get treated the same. This may effect result.
                                                                          1. Twin studies usually involve small sample - hard to generalise.
                                                                          2. Adoption Studies
                                                                            1. Comparing criminal futures of adopted children with criminal history of their biological & adoptive parents.
                                                                              1. Greater degree of similarity of adoptees & their biological parents - suggests genetic component.
                                                                                1. Study
                                                                                  1. Mednick et al. used data from Danish adoption data bank which covers social histories of more than 14,000 children. The conviction rates of male adoptees were compared with those of their biological &adoptive parents.
                                                                                    1. Biological parents with convictions, adoptive parents without: 20% had convictions. Biological & adoptive parents without convictions: 13.5% had convictions.
                                                                                      1. Conclusion: results consistent with modest genetic effect.
                                                                                      2. Evaluation
                                                                                        1. Andrews & Bonta (2006) common criminality between biological parent & adopted child may be side effect of emotional instability and/or mental illness.
                                                                                          1. Some children adopted at later stage so early life experiences may cause the behaviour.
                                                                                            1. Adoption studies problematic as kids tend to be placed in similar environments to that of their biological parents.
                                                                                        2. Chromosomes
                                                                                          1. Criminality once linked to atypical sex chromosome pattern XYY.
                                                                                            1. Witkin et al. found very few cases of XYY in huge sample
                                                                                              1. Theory no longer accepted
                                                                                          2. Neurophysiology
                                                                                            1. People with APD show abnormal EEG patterns, indicating brain immaturity which may explain impulsive, self-centered behaviour.
                                                                                              1. Raine at al. (2000) used scans to measure brain volume in those with ADP & a control group without.
                                                                                                1. 11% reduction in brain grey matter in pre-frontal area in the ADP group.
                                                                                              2. Evaluation
                                                                                                1. Although much is known about chromosomes & genetic disorders, no single criminal gene has been identified - not an adequate explanantion.
                                                                                                  1. No direct causal link established between anomalies in neurological function & criminal behaviour. Isn't possible to separate from other factors e.g. socialisation. Animal studies can't be generalised to human behaviour.
                                                                                                    1. Deterministic, criminality is inevitable, no free will/choice. implications - should we punish someone for a crime they can't control?
                                                                                                      1. Reductionist - attempts to explain complex offending behaviour at the level of chemicals & cells, ignoring other factors.
                                                                                                    2. Psychodynamic
                                                                                                      1. Inadequate superego
                                                                                                        1. Weak superego: absence of same sex parent, can't identify & internalise parents morals.
                                                                                                          1. Deviant superego: child identifies with immoral parent so internalises a deviant moral code.
                                                                                                            1. Overharsh superego: adult misbehaves to fulfill an unconcious desire for punishment & guilt.
                                                                                                            2. Defence Mechanisms
                                                                                                              1. Protect concious self from unpleasant thoughts & ideas.
                                                                                                                1. Denial: refusing to accept an unpleasant event is happening. To acknowledge it conciously would be too disturbing.
                                                                                                                  1. Murderer refuses to acknowledge crime has been committed.
                                                                                                                  2. Sublimation: offender carries out a lesser crime instead of a more serious one.
                                                                                                                    1. Person who wants to rape and murder seeks services of a prostitute to engage in violent sexual activity.
                                                                                                                  3. Maternal Deprivation
                                                                                                                    1. Bowlby said if a child is deprived of an attachment with mother in first 2 years, may lead to delinquency & affectionless behaviour.
                                                                                                                      1. Study
                                                                                                                        1. Interviewed 44 juvenile thieves about themselves, their behaviour and their childhood.
                                                                                                                          1. Also interviewed their families regarding their behaviour and family history, including whether they'd been separated from their families in early childhood.
                                                                                                                            1. Control group of non-delinquent juveniles used to compare.
                                                                                                                              1. Juvenile thieves: 14 identified as affectionless psychopaths, 12 of these were separated from their mothers for a long period during first 2 years.
                                                                                                                                1. Juvenile theives: only 5/30 who weren't affectionless psychopaths had been separated from their mothers.
                                                                                                                                  1. Control group: only 2 had been separated.
                                                                                                                                    1. Conclusion: delinquency is liked to childhood maternal deprivation.
                                                                                                                                  2. Evaluation
                                                                                                                                    1. Many without a same sex parent grow up to be perfectly law abiding - theory isn't accurate.
                                                                                                                                      1. Defence mechanisms unconcious - can't be tested - no evidnece for their existence. Theory not scientific & can't be falsified.
                                                                                                                                        1. According to Freud, ear (of castration) stronger in boys so males should be more moral. Statistics show that males commit more crimes.
                                                                                                                                          1. Doesn't explain all types of crime. E.g. fraud requires careful planning & execution, not impulsively acting on irrational though processes.
                                                                                                                                            1. Bowlby's study criticised: data retrospective so likely unreliable. No cause & effect, some delinquents in the study hadn't suffered maternal deprivation so must be other explanations of offending.
                                                                                                                                          2. Eysenck
                                                                                                                                            1. Our inherited nervous system dictates our personality
                                                                                                                                              1. People vary across two dimensions: introvert/extrovert and neurotic/stable.
                                                                                                                                                1. Criminal type: neurotic-extrovert.
                                                                                                                                                  1. Extroverts - chronically underaroused nervous system so they seek sensation. Not easily conditioned to learn from their mistakes.
                                                                                                                                                    1. This combination leads to criminal personality.
                                                                                                                                                    2. Neurotics: emotionally unstable & unpredictable.
                                                                                                                                                      1. gkg
                                                                                                                                                      2. Study
                                                                                                                                                        1. 100 students defined as delinquent and 100 control students completed EPI (Eysenck Personality Inventory). Their E, N and P scores were calculated.
                                                                                                                                                          1. Delinquents had a combination of higher E,N and P scores.
                                                                                                                                                            1. Conclusion: there's a relationship between personality type (as assessed using the EPI) and delinquent behaviour.
                                                                                                                                                            2. Evaluation
                                                                                                                                                              1. Zuckerman (1969) - environmental stimulation sought by individuals isn't necessarily related to extroversion. It may be boredom which arises from increased arousal rather than decreased.
                                                                                                                                                                1. Theory lends itself to testing & EPI is considered reliable tool for measuring personality.
                                                                                                                                                                  1. Several studies show criminals have higher P & N scores, but not E scores - suggests extroversion is not a criminal trait & there may be others that link to a criminal personality.
                                                                                                                                                                    1. Moffitt argues 4 distinct types of young male offender on basis of timing, duration, pattern and type of crime. These are: stable early starters, adolescent-limited, adult starters &discontinuous offenders.
                                                                                                                                                                      1. Just two dimensions is oversimplification. 5 factor model has additional dimensions of openness to experience, agreeableness & conscientiousness. So, a neurotic-extrovert need not become an offender depending on their psychological make-up in relation to other dimensions.
                                                                                                                                                                        1. Deterministic as it states biological factors cause behaviour - inherited nervous system causes behaviour and determines personality. No free will/choice over how to behave.
                                                                                                                                                                          1. Implications: is someone culpable of a crime they commit if the behaviour is determined by factors outside of their control?
                                                                                                                                                                            1. Sample used were servicemen, not criminals. Didn't cover adequate range of people so specific personality types would have emerged as dominant.
                                                                                                                                                                          2. Sutherland's Differential Association Theory (Learning Theory)
                                                                                                                                                                            1. Behaviourists
                                                                                                                                                                              1. Criminal behaviour learnt through association.
                                                                                                                                                                                1. Sutherland's differential association theory: offending learnt through association with peers & family whose values we adopt. Everyone's associations differ. Exposed to pro-criminal attitudes, more likely to offend. Exposed to anti-criminal attitudes, less likely to offend.
                                                                                                                                                                                2. SLT
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Offending learnt through observation, imitation and direct or vicarious reinforcement.
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Observe friend stealing, copy behaviour, get away with it, repeat.
                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Study
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Farrington: Cambridge study of delinquent development - logitudinal.
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. 411 families, boyos, inner-city south London, studied age 8-50. Recorded parenting style, family background, social behaviour, rate & type of convictions.
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. 41% had conviction between 10-50. Risk factors: family criminality, poverty, poor parenting & low school achievement.
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Conclusion: criminality develops in a context of inappropriate role models & dysfunctional systems of reward & punishment.
                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Evaluation
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Can't explain all crimes e.g. embezzlement which are individualistic & seemingly not influenced by others. One off crimes also not well explained.
                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Can explain prevalence of crime in certain areas, usually urban. Explains how crime can become endemic in these areas.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Doesn't explain why many offenders cease to offend when they get old - other factors must play a role.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Founded on scientific principles e.g. empirical research, but perhaps an oversimplification to apply these to such complex behaviour.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Can't establish causal link between socialisation & criminality. Socialisation can't be isolated from other factors e.g. genetics.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. This focus on socialisation as a key factor in criminal behaviour represented a dramatic shift from previous theories which viewed criminal behaviour as innate, instinctive or due to weakness.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Studies like Farrington could be taken as evidence for genetic theory of offending, since high % or sample had criminal biological parents. 1 analysis of the Cambridge data found inter-generational criminality across 3 generations.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Theory too general. Has similarities with SLT but none of the detail of the cognitive processes that might underpin criminal behaviour. Although, as a sociological theory, Sutherland didn't feel that a cognitive explanation was necessary.
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