UNDERSTANDING CRIME AND VICTIMIZATION
From Siegel, L.J. & Worrall J.L. . Introduction to Criminal Justice 13 th ed.
One of the goals of criminology is to develop an understanding of the nature and cause of crime and victimization. Criminology is the scientific study of the nature, extent, cause, and control of criminal behavior, and seeks to develop an understanding of the nature and cause of crime and victimization.
People choose to commit crime after weighing potential benefits and consequences. A. Rational criminals -
Rational choice is a function of a person’s perception of conventional alternatives and opportunities. Benefits include not only monetary gains, but psychological rewards such as excitement and increased social status. B. Rational crimes -
That crime is rational can be observed in a wide variety of criminal events. White collar and organized crime figures engage in elaborate and wellplanned conspiracies. Even street and violent criminals exhibit elements of rationality.
Crime is due to inherited and uncontrollable biological and psychological traits. Origins are traced to Cesare Lombroso. Contemporary biological theory assumes that variation in human physical traits can explain behavior. While biochemical makeup influences behavior, social factors can mitigate its effects, thus biological and environmental factors have an interactive effect.
Biochemical Factors Environmental contaminants
PCB’s Lead Mercury
Vitamin/mineral deficiencies Food additives
Conduct disorder Aggressive behavior
Suggests that criminals may suffer from psychological abnormality or stress. Psychodynamic theory Behavioral theory Cognitive theory Personality and crime Attachment and crime
Psychodynamic theory Suggests that criminals may have suffered damage to their ego or superego early in life which renders them powerless to control their impulses. Sigmund Freud Early development problems Personality damage
Crime and mental illness Seek immediate gratification of their needs without considering right and wrong or the needs of others. As adult criminals, those arrested for multiple crimes are more likely to suffer from a psychiatric disorder than nonchronic offenders.
Individuals who have learned violence and have seen it rewarded are more likely to engage in violence that those who have seen acts of violence punished. According to social learning theorists, people act aggressively because, as children, they modeled their behavior after the violent acts of adults.
One area of interest is the impact of the entertainment media and learned behaviors.
Does the media influence violent behavior? In what
“Scripts” Arousal levels
Criminals may lack the ability to make moral judgments and lack concern for society’s rules. Aggressive individuals may base their behavior on faulty information processing.
Moral development theory
• Psychopaths are dangerous, aggressive, antisocial individuals who are calculated and manipulative. These individuals fail to learn from their mistakes and are not deterred by punishment. • Characterized by a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood. • Linked to chronic recidivism and serial murder. • Three independent views of what causes antisocial personality: socialization; arousal level; and brain dysfunction.
Failure to conform to social norms Deceitfulness Impulsivity Irritability Disregard for safety Irresponsibility Lack of remorse
For some, psychological problems make them unable to form attachment with others. Children with attachment...
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