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Explaining Crime: Emphasis on the Individual

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Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458 Steven E. Barkan ... Predicts higher arrest and imprisonment rates should produce lower crime rates, ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Explaining Crime: Emphasis on the Individual


1
Chapter 5
  • Explaining Crime Emphasis on the Individual

2
Understanding Theories of Crime
  • Theories of crime try to answer at least 1 of 3
    questions
  • Why are some people more likely than others to
    commit crime?
  • Why are some categories of people more likely
    than others to commit crime?
  • Why is crime more common in some locations than
    in others?

3
  • Biology and Psychology tend to focus on first
    question (individual)
  • Sociology focuses on last 2 questions (social
    environment)
  • Micro smaller picture
  • Macro larger picture

4
From Theology to Science
  • Gods and Demons as Causes of Crime and Deviance
  • People in ancient times were thought to act
    deviantly for several reasons
  • God was testing their faith
  • God was punishing them
  • God was using their behavior to warn others to
    follow Him
  • They were possessed by demons

5
  • Enlightenment
  • Belief that people have their own free will and
    reason God does not directly control human
    behavior
  • Despite this age of reason, the death penalty was
    used for over 200 crimes in England

6
  • The Classical School of Criminology
  • (1738-1794) Cesare Beccaria (father of modern
    criminology), On Crimes and Punishments
  • (1748-1832) Jeremy Bentham law was more severe
    than it needed to be to keep rational people from
    committing crime

7
  • The Rise of Positivism
  • Use of scientific method to study human behavior
  • Postulated human behavior is affected by outside
    forces
  • Founded by August Comte
  • One problem is theory assumes criminals are
    different from the rest of us

8
Rational Choice Explanations and Deterrence
  • Rational-choice theory assumes people choose to
    commit crime after calculating whether its
    rewards outweigh risks
  • Deterrence theory assumes potential and actual
    punishment can deter crime

9
  • Types of Deterrence
  • General occurs when members of public decide not
    to break the law because they fear punishment
  • Specific occurs when offenders already punished
    decide not to commit another crime
  • Objective impact of actual legal punishment
  • Subjective impact of peoples perceptions of
    likelihood and severity of legal punishment

10
  • Evaluation of Rational-Choice and Deterrence
    Theory
  • Evidence on deterrence is inconsistent
  • Predicts higher arrest and imprisonment rates
    should produce lower crime rates, but this does
    not occur
  • Harsher penalties should lower crime rates, but
    this pattern does not occur

11
  • Offenders caught and punished should reoffend
    less, but evidence of this is mixed
  • No evidence that criminals make rational choices
    or weigh consequences of their actions

12
Biological Explanations
  • Nineteenth Century Views
  • Phrenology study of skull size in relation to
    criminality
  • Cesare Lombroso, Founder of positivist school
  • Atavism criminals are throwbacks to earlier
    stage of evolution

13
  • Early Twentieth Century Views
  • Earnest Hooton, biological inferiority advocated
    sterilization of criminals or exile
  • William Sheldon, somatology body shapes affect
    personalities
  • Endomorphs
  • Mesomorphs
  • Ectomorphs

14
  • Contemporary Explanations
  • Family, Heredity, and Genes
  • Early research on the Juke family
  • Twin studies
  • Adoption studies
  • Evolutionary biology
  • Chromosomal abnormalities

15
  • Neurochemical Factors
  • Hormones Testosterone and Male Criminality
  • Testosterone a cause of male criminality?
  • Increase in aggressive behavior
  • Hormones PMS and Crime by Women
  • Premenstrual Syndrome leads to aggression?
  • Neurotransmitters
  • Serotonin

16
  • Diet and Nutrition
  • Twinkie Defense
  • Poor nutrition lead to criminal behavior?
  • Research concludes at most a relatively minor
    effect on criminality
  • Pregnancy and Birth Complications
  • Poor nutrition, alcohol, tobacco use during
    pregnancy

17
  • Evaluation of Biological Explanations
  • Crime is too diverse for biological explanations
    to account for all behavior
  • Methodological problems in research studies
  • Cannot easily account for group rate differences
  • Social policy implications
  • We cannot change biology
  • Potential justification for appalling acts

18
Psychological Explanations
  • Psychoanalytic Explanations
  • Crime arises from internal disturbances from
    early childhood
  • Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis
  • Mental disorders derive from conflict between
    society and instinctive needs of the individual
  • Id
  • Ego
  • Superego

19
  • Psychoanalytic explanations limited in explaining
    criminal behavior
  • Suggests antisocial behavior is mentally
    disordered behavior
  • Neglects social factors and overemphasizes
    childhood experiences
  • Research in this area relies on case histories
  • Sexist in their explanation of females and their
    behavior

20
  • Moral Development and Crime
  • Jean Piaget, mental and moral development in
    children four stages of development
  • Sensorimotor birth to 2 years. learn through
    senses
  • Preoperational 2-7 years. learning language,
    drawing, other skills
  • Concrete operations 7-11 years. logical
    thinking and problem solving
  • Formal operations 11-15 years. abstract ideas

21
  • Kohlberg - theory of moral development ability
    to distinguish right from wrong
  • In early stages, moral reasoning related solely
    to punishment
  • Later stages begin to realize society and parents
    have rules
  • People recognize universal moral principles
    supercede laws of any one society
  • Not everyone makes it through all stages of moral
    development

22
  • Intelligence and Crime
  • Is low IQ to blame for criminal behavior?
  • Low IQ linked to delinquency
  • Poor school performance leads to less attachments
    to school
  • Lower self-esteem
  • Lower ability to engage in moral reasoning
  • Less able to appreciate consequences of actions
  • Race, IQ, and Crime
  • Troubling racial overtones in contemporary
    research
  • Differences in IQs between blacks and whites
  • Methodological flaws in research

23
  • Personality and Crime
  • Glueck research ink blot tests showed greater
    personality problems in delinquents
  • MMPI
  • Temperament
  • Attention deficits
  • Impulsivity
  • Hyperactivity
  • Irritability
  • Coldness

24
  • New personality research has important
    implications for reducing crime
  • Preschool and early family intervention programs
  • Address aspects of social environment to reduce
    crime
  • Problems with new personality research
  • Cannot adequately account for relativity of
    deviance do not help understand why one behavior
    instead of the other is chosen
  • Some people with personality problems do not
    break the law

25
  • Evaluation of Psychological Explanations
  • Fill in smaller picture of crime
  • Psychological studies often use small,
    unrepresentative samples results should be
    interpreted cautiously
  • Generally disregard structural factors (i.e.
    poverty)
  • Causal order remains unclear
  • Rarely study white-collar offenders

26
  • Abnormality or Normality?
  • Psychological approaches suggest crime/criminals
    are psychologically abnormal
  • Can still commit crime and be psychologically
    normal
  • Milgram shock experiments
  • Zimbardo - Mock prison experiments
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