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Advanced Higher - Theories of Crime

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Kirsten Begbie

on 20 August 2015

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Transcript of Advanced Higher - Theories of Crime

Today we will cover:
What is criminology
Physiological Theories
Psychological Theories
Sociological Theories
Theories of Crime
photo (cc) Malte Sörensen @ flickr
What is Criminology?
Physiological Theories
Psychological Theories
Following criticism of early positivist criminology, attention shifted away from individualistic explanations and towards theories that stress the social and cultural context of crime.
Sociological Theories
to stray from an accepted path
to not follow norms and expectations
3 forms of deviance
1 rule-breaking that can be positively sanctioned - eg physicists will break rules to discover new things.
2. deviance that results in disapproval and punishment - eg murderers
3. acts which depart from norms and expectations that are generally accepted - 'eccentricities'
deviance that results in negative sanctions
it is considered harmful
it breaks societies morals
Sociological Study of Deviance
acts which break the law of the land
acts that are antisocial - delinquency
illegal drug use
mental illness
1. Deviant behaviour is different from normal behaviour - therefore deviants are different from normal people
4. The answer lies in diagnosing the illness
2. Deviant behaviour is a social problem
3. Deviants are abormal, therefore must have a pathology
deviants have some organic defect of pathology.
They are born with a defect or develop one (eg as a result of poor diet/alcoholism..)
The deviant's mind is ill.

Some emotional disturbance in their past has left them mentally unbalanced.
Marshall B Clinard
" those situations in which behaviour is in a disapproved direction, and of a sufficient degree to extend the tolerance limit of the community."
Cesare Lombroso
British criminologists identified chromosomal abnormalities in the 1960s.

Identified a high proportion of men with an extra Y chromosome in high security prisons for the mentally ill.
Chromosome Abnormalities
Lombroso was the founder of the positivist school of thought in the 19th Century.
Key definition:
That deviant behaviour is based in the genetic make-up of a person.
This causes or predisposes them to deviant behaviour.
Lombroso argued that criminals were throwbacks to more primitive forms of human being.
He identified physical characteristics such as large jaws and high cheekbones to identify potential 'deviants'.
Lombroso's early theories are now widely discredited
The study of eugenics linked biological weaknesses to criminality.

The Nazi's used this theory to justify programmes of sterilisation.

Also had support throughout America during the 1930s.
The Kallikak Family: A Study in the Heredity of Feeble-Mindedness
1912 study by Henry H. Goddard followed the geneology of a family to understand the inheritance of mental illness...
He used the term 'feeble-minded' to identify those 'strands' of the family which had inherited these characteristics.
Some men are born with XYY an extra chromosome. This is liked with behavioural disorders.
A study carried out in Scotland with mentally disordered male offenders by Price et al 1966 identified a form of hyper masculinity (super male) aggressive and lacking in intelligence.
However, this theory has largely been discredited now due to later research that showed that those with extra chromosomes committed petty crimes as a result of learning difficulties as opposed to greater aggressiveness.
The function of theory is to provide puzzles for research
positivism = search for causes of crime in science.

classical = understands human behaviour based on principle of free will.
There has been limited research on the hormone levels of women and offending.
Research by Herbert and Tennant (1974) carried out on disturbed women in a security prison found that they were more likely to be confined during the premenstrual week.
The idea of PMT (pre-menstrual tension) has been used successfully in mitigation in criminal trials.
Hormones / Testosterone
This connect several body organs to the CNS such as heart rate and glands.
Measurement of ANS is done through the sweat glands in the hands, a lie detector is used to measure the degree of arousal. The assumption is that people who are lying will be (nervous, tense, anxious, fearful, frightened).
A slow response my indicate that individuals require strong stimuli to arouse them. This is linked to poor learning.
Researchers argue that a slow response is charcteristic of offenders.
Autonomic Nervous System
Three chemical which allow electrical transmittion in the brain:
Serotonin – reduces aggressiveness
Dopamine – counteract serotonin
Norepinephrine –counteract serotonin
An imbalance in these may lead to aggressive or unpredictable behaviour.
Research in this area has been difficult due to factors which may influence the brain function such as alcohol or diet.
Why are men more likely to be involved in crime?
Testosterone may be a factor.
Raine (1993) suggests that this is the case.
Hollin (1992) backs up this theory by stating that delinquency and aggressiveness appear during and just after puberty so hormonal change my explain this.
Research by Booth and Osgood also linked testosterone to offending by studying over 4000 military personnel. They also discovered a link between abnormally high levels of testosterone and violent male offenders however there were other contributing factors such as alcohol.
Hormones / Testosterone
Studies by Farrington et al into ADHD found in boys coming from large families with parents who were likely to have a criminal background.
This research is limited because:
it focuses on the male.
There are also social factor which contributes to this behaviour
Research can be carried out in prisons as diet can be controlled.
The following links have been made:

Low blood-sugar, or hypoglycaemia, has been associated with a number of behavioural problems including violence, alcoholism, hyperactivity and learning difficulties (Tuormaa 1994).
Food allergies, and food additives have been associated with hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder (Tuormaa 1994).
Vitamin and/or mineral deficiencies or excess may be linked with criminality or anti-social behaviour (Gesch et al 2002). Most commonly suggested links focus on levels of lead in the bloodstream (which is linked with slow learning ability, hyperactivity and low intelligence), and a deficiency of vitamin B complex which is linked with aggression and erratic behaviour.
Early studies claimed the link between left sidedness and delinquency.
Left handedness was, up until recently, openly discouraged and treated as abnormal.
One hypothesis is those that are left handed are Right brain dominated so therefore they may be less verbally able . These skills are linked with self control and this in turn is linked to anti-social behaviour.
ADHD and brain dysfunction
ADHD is characterised by impulsivity (acting before thinking about the consequences)
Hyperactivity (excessive activity)
Inattentiveness (failure to concentrate or pay attention
Children with ADHD may find it difficult to interact with others which may lead them
There is “no compelling reason to believe that epilepsy and abnormal EEGs are major determinants of juvenile delinquency.” (Has et al 1985) Hollin 1992.
Early research detected a link between abnormal brain activity and serious crime.

However findings have been inconsistent.
Central Nervous System
Electrical disorganisation in the brain may lead to seizures (epilepsy).
Lombroso was first to try and link epilepsy and criminality.
General population 0.5% suffer however in studies by Gun and Bonn (1977) discovered a rate of 0.71 in prisoners.
Two theories:
Increased aggression
Biochemical factors
Central Nervous System
ADHD ad brain dysfunction
Autonomic Nervous System
Hormones / Testosterone
Central Nervous System
Taylor, Walton and Young:
correlations between physical characteristics and deviant behaviour can be explained in other ways.
lower working class children are more likely to be involved in crime and be 'mesomorphic' as a result of diet and manual labour.
Deviant behaviour is as a result of an abnormality.

This deviance lies in the mind.
Behaviourist Theory
emerging tradition from 1913 on.
B Skinner as most influential theorist.
this theory is concerned with environmental settings and its consequences on behaviour.
Antecedent Conditions
operant learning
John Bowlby
deviance is not inherited

Bowlby maintained that children need emotional security during the first seven years of their lives.
without this the child would develop a psycopathic personality.
human behaviour can be understood scientifically.
Psychoanalytical theories
Sigmund Freud claimed that:
1. the actions and behaviour of an adult are understood through their childhood experiences.
2. behaviour and unconscious motives are intertwined.
3. criminality is essentially a representation of psychological conflict.
Biochemical Theories of Crime
(cc) photo by theaucitron on Flickr
Robert Merton
Anomie relates to the idea that crime is a function of society.
increased crime is a result of defective social regulation, to the extent that people deviate because the iplines and authority of society are so flawed that they offer few restraints or moral direction.
Subcultural Explanations
Delinquency and Drift
Chicago School
The New Criminology
New Left Realism
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