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1. Criminal Psychology dummy guide Describe and evaluate two explanations of criminal/anti-social behaviour Biological explanation: Eysenck trait personality approach…
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  • 1. Criminal Psychology dummy guide Describe and evaluate two explanations of criminal/anti-social behaviour Biological explanation: Eysenck trait personality approach Eysenck suggested that there 3 main dimensions along which people vary: Introversion-extroversion Neurotocism- stability Psychoticism Eysenck argues that a person’s position on the personality dimension on the introversion-extroversion dimension is caused by the level of arousal in the brain and that their position on the neuroticism- stability dimension is caused by the stability or instability of the autonomic nervous system. Eysenck has proposed that there are genetically determined individual differences in the ARAS which affect the usual levels of arousal that we experience. Through their behaviour, people tend to adjust these levels to a comfortable optimum. He proposes that high E, N and P can lead to criminal behaviour. He carried out research on population of offenders and claimed impressive support for his theory, however other researchers suggested that matters are not so clear. Farrington et al. ( 1982) reviewed a number of studies and concluded that officially defined offenders (e.g. prisoners) generally scored higher than controls on P and N but not E. In contrast, a number of studies which have correlated E with self-report measures of delinquency have found that they do appear to be related (e.g. Rushton and Christjohn, 1981). However this theory could explain Ishikawa and Raine's (2002) who found a higher concordance rate in MZ twins than DZ twins for criminality and Mednick et al.'s (1984) who found a higher concordance rate for criminal behaviour in adopted children with their biological parents than with their adoptive parents. However it does not explain why men commit most crimes. It does not explain the socio economic patterns of crime and does not take into account social factors such as poverty and unemployment. It can explain all crimes (i.e. internet fraud) as the offenders could be said to be looking for excitement. It is deterministic (if you have the genes for an underaroused brain then you will commit crime) and reductionist as it does not take into account social factors. Social Learning Theory Badura 4 stages: Attention to the model Retention: the observer must be able to retain a memory of the observed behaviour Reproduction: the observer must be able to reproduce the observed behaviour Motivation: the observer must be motivated to reproduce the observed behaviour. This could be in the hope of a reward. Bandura (1977) outlines three factors which determine whether we imitate a model: 1. Vicarious consequences: if the model is punished the behaviour is less likely to be copied. However if the model is rewarded (i.e. successful criminal) the behaviour is more likely to be imitated. If the individual views the crime as victimless (i.e. shoplifting) the behaviour is more likely to be copied. 2. External motivation: once the behaviour has been copied then operant conditioning apply i.e. behaviour which is reinforced is more likely to be repeated however if punished it is less likely to be repeated. 3. Self-reinforcement: a behaviour is more likely to be repeated if it satisfies some internal needs i.e. excitement when committing the crime or feeling of power.
  • 2. Who do we copy? The most effective models are same age, same sex, higher social status than ourselves. They could be peers, parents.. This theory does not take into account biological factors such as prefrontal lobe lesions or the concordance rate for violent behaviour between adopted children and their biological parents but it can explain most types of crime (i.e. violent and nonviolent). It does not take into account directly the influence of social factors such as unemployment and poverty. It does not take into account the individual characteristics and free will or moral values which might influence an individual to decide not to commit crimes. It does not take into account the influence of mental disorders when statistics show that a significant of prisoners suffer from schizophrenia and other learning difficulties. Role of the media: Media: films, TV, press, computer games, CD, computer games Bandura (1963) support the influence of the media on aggressive behaviour but Charlton et al. (2000) found that the introduction of the TV on St Helena did not cause the children to become violent. The Island of St Helena became the site for a natural when satellite television was first transmitted to it in March 1995 before and after television was introduced video camera were installed in two school playgrounds, filming children between three and eight during lunchbreaks and playtimes. Analysis of the videos before the introduction of television showed that the vast majority of the children were well adjusted and hard working; in fact the three and four-year old were considered to be among the best behaved in the world. No change was observed in their behaviour after the introduction of television despite the fact that the violent content of the programmes was slightly higher than in the UK (46 percent compared to 41 percent). And there was no watershed, the amount of hitting, kicking, pushing and pinching was jus the same after the introduction of television as it was before. Teachers rated the children as just as hard- working and co-operative as they ever had been. Evaluating the research on the effects of media on violent behaviour 1. Laboratory experiments (i.e. Bandura (1963), Bobo doll experiment) can be used to compare two matched groups on their level of aggression after they have been exposed to either violent or non- violent media such as a film or video game. A repeated measures design can also be used. Advantage: can establish cause and effect. Disadvantage: lacks ecological validity 2. Field experiments. (i.e. Parke et al 1977) Advantage: Greater ecological validity than laboratory studies because done in natural environment Disadvantage: Difficult to control extraneous variables. 3. Natural experiments.(i.e. Charlton et al. ,2000) Studies carried out in real-life setting where the independent variable occurs naturally. Advantage: High ecological validity Disadvantage: Difficult to establish cause and effect. 4. Correlational Studies look for a positive correlation between the level of aggression expressed by individuals (by using personality tests, self-ratings or crime statistics) and the amount of media violence experienced. Advantage: Good for showing relationship between aggression and media violence Disadvantage: Difficult to establish cause and effect; aggressive people may seek out violent films and games or children brought up in a violent households and subcultures may be exposed to more media violence. 5. Longitudinal correlational studies have advantage of advantage of looking at the same people at different stages of their development. The disadvantage is that the sample size can be eroded and lead to bias in the sample.
  • 3. 6. Questionnaires: These can be used to questions people about their views on aggression before and after watching a violent film. Disadvantage: Questions asked beforehand could affect later answers. People may give socially desirable answers. 7. Meta-analyses: These involve looking at the conclusions of many studies to see whether an overall conclusion can be found. Advantage: Can pool together the findings of many studies. Disadvantage: Classes all studies as equally reliable and valid, which is probably not the case. Eyewitness testimony To be able to describe how estimator variables affect eyewitness testimony. Estimator variables are the factors that affect the accuracy of eyewitness testimony over which the justice system has no control. 1. Reconstructive memory: When we try and recall an event, we actively piece it together using a range of information. We organise the material to make it meaningful, we add details to make sense of events and we change it in the light of subsequent information. This can lead to errors in eyewitness testimony. 2. The length of time of an incident tends to be overestimated by eyewitnesses. 3. How much attention a witness is paying at the time the incident. 4. How much stress the witness experienced. 5. Stereotyping 6. Weapon focus effect To be able to describe how system variables affect eyewitness testimony. System variables are factors that affect the accuracy of eyewitness testimony over which the justice system does have control: Leading questions To be able to describe and evaluate THREE studies into factors affecting eyewitness testimony Loftus and Palmer (1974) found that if a different verb is used to indicate the speed of a car, such as ‘hit’, ‘smashed’, ‘collided’ or bumped, then participants gave a different speed estimate. They gave a higher estimate of speed if the word was ‘smashed’ rather than ‘collided.’ This study suggests that eyewitness testimony is unreliable. It also shows that care must be taken when questioning witnesses. As most research is conducted in a lab, there is a lack of ecological validity. Participants lack the emotional involvement of real eyewitnesses and participants may feel correct recall it is not as important compared to a real crime. Unfortunately real witnesses of real crimes are not usually available for study because they are needed as real witnesses by the police. Most of Loftus’ studies took place using questionnaires, which is nothing like a real police interview. Yuille and Cutshall (1986) asked 21 witnesses who had observed a shooting incident in which 1 person was killed and a 2nd seriously wounded to take part in their study. All of the witnesses were interviewed by the investigating police, and 13 witnesses agreed to a research interview 5 months after the event. The eyewitness accounts provided in both the police and research interviews were analyzed. The witnesses were highly accurate in their accounts, and there was little change in amount or accuracy of recall over 5 months. This study suggests that eyewitness memory in real life is not as likely to be distorted as laboratory experiments suggest. However, the retention of events could be due to rehearsal through reading media coverage of the shooting. This study points to the need for field research of this type to evaluate the generalizability of laboratory experiments. There would also be considerable ethical difficulties in producing the level of emotion involved in a real crime during a staged event for research.
  • 4. Pickel (1996) the aim was to find out whether weapon focus, the inability to recall peripheral details due to narrowing of attention was due to the unusualness of the weapon or the threat it poses. Experiment 1: 230 American students were shown a 2mn video of an incident in a hair salon in which the receptionist was threatened by a man and handed over the till money. There were 5 conditions: the man threatened by a pair of scissors, a handgun, a wallet, a raw chicken or the man was not holding anything. The students then did a filler task for 10 mn then were asked questions about the incident. These questions concerned the receptionist, the salon and the man including what he was holding. The recall of the receptioninst was the same across all conditions but the recall of the man was the highest when he was holding nothing and the lowest when he was holding a raw chicken followed by the condition when the man was holding a gun. Experiment 2:To confirm the results of the first experiment Pickel conducted a second experiment in which 256 participants saw a similar incident this time taking place in an electrical repair shop. The man threatening the receptionist threatened with one of the four following objects: a butcher’s knife, a pair of sunglasses, a Pillsbury doughboy figure or was not holding anything. Again the recall was the lowest when the man was holding the most unusual object: Pillsbury doughboy figure. Conclusion: the participants’ ability to recall the features of the man was significantly affected by the unusualness of the object he was holding. However most of the research on eyewitness memory (except Yuille and Cutshall) are experiments using films or other “props” they lack in the detail and the emotional impact a real event would have on a person and this might influence their ability to encode and recall. The testimony given by the participants has no consequences whereas in real life witnesses are aware that what they say might put someone in jail. Furthermore the recall is given to a researcher and people might behave differently when the questions are asked by the police. Treating offenders Describe and evaluate TWO ways of treating offenders including token economy and one other: anger management Behaviour Modification Token economy programmes use operant conditioning to replace aggression with more appropriate behaviour. Required behaviour is rewarded. Individuals are given tokens for approved behaviour and the tokens can be exchanged for something desirable, such as visits or watching TV. It is possible that as part of the programme, maladaptive aggressive behaviour is punished too. Token economies are effective in institutions but results do not readily transfer to the outside world. In token economy, changes in behaviour may be temporary to gain rewards but with no underlying shift in behaviour. Once reinforcement of appropriate behaviours stops, extinction may occur. It is fairly cheap to implement as it requires only a short training of the staff, however it requires consistency in the way rewards and punishments are applied and this might be difficult to achieve in a large establishment. Few long-term studies have been done to see if the effects of the programme last once the individual is released from prison. The tokens have to be something that the people value of they will be ineffective. There could be human rights issues for example sleep, food and drink should not be used as tokens. Token economy has ethical problems of changing people’s behaviour against their will. Furthermore violent behaviour might be a survival strategy in some environments (i.e. prison) and before this programme is run some thought should be given on how to make the environment safe. Anger management programmes are based on the idea that people can learn to control their aggression through helping individuals recognise thoughts that precede an aggressive attack and then helping them to change those thoughts. Clients are taught to identify situations which trigger anger. Techniques are taught
  • 5. to control the feelings of anger and to replace inappropriate behaviour with more adaptive responses. Situations are then set up to give clients an opportunity to apply these new techniques and progression is monitored. McDougall et al. (1987) found that offences were reduced when 18 young offenders who were in prison underwent and anger control program. Goldstein et al. (1989) found that offenders who had undergone an anger control programme and social skills training were less likely to reoffend than a control group. However, an anger management course taken in prison may not transfer to the community on release. In addition, for the programme to work individuals must be able to focus on their own thoughts and their aggression must stem from anger. It is an expensive programme as it requires staff to undergo a lengthy training before they can run the programme. It requires time and commitment from both the prison service and the prisoners as the course requires a number of sessions. It also requires some insight on the part of the prisoner and that might exclude people with mental disorders such as schizophrenia who form a significant part of the prison population. Key issue: Offender profiling To be able to explain why offender profiling is used Offender profiling aims to aid the identification of an unknown criminal by coming up with likely characteristics such as personality, age, race, type of employment, religion, marital status and level of education. Offender profiling may also suggest: possessions the offender might have, interviewing strategies and where, when and against whom the offender is likely to commit their next offence. A psychologist may set about creating a profile of an offender by collecting crime scene evidence such as blood stains and establishing the modus operandi of the offence. They would then look at any behavioural information from the crime scene such as the way a rapist talked to his victim to give an insight into the thinking patterns and personal habits of the offender. During the investigative phase of offender profiling, psychologists look at linking crimes, give the police ideas about where to look for suspects and consider issues such as whether the behaviour is likely to lead to more serious crimes. To be able to compare the British ‘bottom up’ approach (the work of Canter) with the US ‘top down’ approach to offender profiling The top-down approach in the US is based on FBI profilers originally interviewing convicted murderers and experienced investigators. They then combined this information with data on the crime scenes to devise a classification system in which subsequent crimes could be placed in order to judge the type of person who would have committed the crime. For example, murderers are classified as either organised or disorganised. The top-down approach is sometimes called ‘crime scene analysis’. The four stages of crime scene analysis are: stage 1-data assimilation, stage 2-crime classification, stage 3-crime reconstruction, stage 4-profile generation. This type of profiling is best suited to crime scenes that reveal important details about the suspect such as rape, arson and cult killings. The top-down approach has been criticised because the classification system is fairly crude and based on a small number of serious offenders. Interviews with convicted criminals may contain information that is made up. The British bottom-up approach involves working from the crime scene directly. David Canter has used geographical consistencies in a crime to identify where a criminal might live. If a criminal has carried out more than one similar crime, then it is possible based on evidence at the crime scenes to draw up a profile of what the criminal is like, what his/her job might be etc. Canter used statistical analysis of past crime scenes to do this. In Britain, there is more of a focus on the situation and particular facts about the crime, whereas in the US there is an emphasis on personality and the type of person who might be a criminal. The two approaches are similar in that they both use evidence from past crimes although the FBI uses evidence from past offenders whereas Canter uses evidence from past crime scenes. Both approaches have built up their own typologies e.g. the FBI created organised/disorganised classifications for murderers. Both approaches
  • 6. have similar success rates; 16% in the UK according to Copson and Holloway and 17% in the US according to Holmes. Profiles are generalisations and often do not take into account factors about an individual. Innocent people can be questioned because they are the type of person being sought. Hunter et al. (1993) compared juvenile, male sex offenders whose victims were either prepubescent or pubescent/post-pubescent females. They found clear differences between the groups suggesting that offenders can have particular characteristics in common.
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