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The Role of Theory in Criminology

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Make sense of the facts we observe. Predict what may happen in the future ... Does the theory fit with research results? Specifying the Relationships Between Variables ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Role of Theory in Criminology


1
The Role of Theory in Criminology
2
What is a Theory?
3
Why Have Theory?
  • Answers the question, why?
  • Make sense of the facts we observe
  • Predict what may happen in the future
  • Shape and direct scientific research
  • Shape and direct policies to reduce crime

4
Examples of Theories

5
Crime Theoryand Common Sense
  • Its all in the genes
  • Hes from the wrong side of the tracks
  • She got in with the wrong crowd
  • What he needs is a good stiff kick
  • Its the parents fault
  • Weve got to stop coddling criminals
  • Its the music she listens to
  • How else could he hope to get rich?
  • His teachers expected him to fail, so he did

6
What is Criminological Theory?
  • Articulated propositions
  • Specify the relationships between variables
  • Unarticulated propositions
  • Assumptions about human beings
  • Cognitive (empirical) validity
  • Does the theory fit with research results?

7
Specifying the Relationships Between Variables
  • Direct (causal) effect
  • A affects C directly
  • Indirect (mediated) effect
  • A affects C by affecting B
  • B is the mediating variable

A
C
A
B
C
8
Specifying the Relationship Between Variables
  • Interaction effect
  • The relationship between A and C differs
    depending on B

A
C
B
- B conditions the relationship A and C - B
moderates the relationship A and C
9
Specifying the Relationship Between Variables
  • Correlation, not causation
  • A and C are correlated but not causally related

A
C
10
Specifying the Relationship Between Variables
  • Exogenous variables
  • Not explained by the causal diagram or model
  • Endogenous variables
  • Explained by the causal diagram or model

11
Causal Diagram
12
A Basic Issue
  • Is criminal behavior caused or is it the product
    of free will?
  • If caused, are criminals biologically different
    than non-criminals, or is it their social
    experiences that matter most?
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