Human Behavior

Topics: Psychology, Personality psychology, Trait theory Pages: 5 (1744 words) Published: March 10, 2014

Human Behavior of Social Environment
Psychological Theories of Crime and Delinquency Marilyn Fishoff
Long Island University

In the article, “Psychological Theories of Crime and Delinquency,” taken from, “The Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment,” it attempts to understand the reasoning behind delinquent behavior. This is a topic that has interested human behaviorist for generations, because the concept is hard to comprehend. We all know that everyone has an inner drive to do well. Everyone longs to be accepted, loved, and desired. If given the choice, no one would chose to commit a crime, or be involved in any harmful activity. Yet, anyone that has looked around at the world knows that in every generation there have been many terrible cases and stories of crime. This is one of the most alarming human behaviors, and there have been many theories that try to understand the reasons why this happens.

The article explores the connection between personality and crime, bringing down a study that was conducted in the 1950’s. 500 boys were gathered, each with a history of crime and delinquent behavior. Upon investigating the lives of each of the boys, the results indicated that they all had many things in common, different than those with non-delinquent behavior. These boys were found to be less cooperative in school, more suspicious, more destructive, and more defensive. This can serve as a proof that there is a link between personality, and delinquent behavior. This may sound puzzling, because personality is formed by internal traits and emotions, while delinquent behaviors are entirely external.

To help explain this assumption, the article supports its hypothesis by bringing the psychodynamic-psychoanalytic theory, developed from the writings of Sigmund Freud. Freud states that although crime is an external activity, it is in essence a result of internal pathology, internal pain and suffering. For example, if we see someone steal one million dollars from a bank, it is not because he wants the money, or is forced by others to commit that crime; rather he is feeling internal suffering and is committing the crime to ease this pain. Freud goes on to explain that our personalities do not develop when we get older; rather they become a part of us very early in our lives. He states that our personality is divided into three parts, the id, ego, and super ego. The article describes the three as, “The id represents the instinctual drives, the ego represents understood social norms that harness the id, and the superego is learned moral reasoning.” Although we can’t differentiate the fighting forces in ourselves, they are constantly balancing each other to create our unique personality. Freud writes that delinquent behavior occurs as a result of imbalance between these three different parts of our personality. The individual will feel a raging power in his id, and a less strong power in his ego. If a person’s id, his desires, grab control of his super ego, moral reasoning, the person will feel confused, depressed, and in an inner turmoil. This inner turmoil will affect his personality, and he may become a more destructive, defensive and confused person. In order to ease his inner pain, he will push his super ego deep into his unconscious, and follow his id to commit that desired crime. At those moments when the crime is committed, the person’s id is completely in control of him and will give him the drive to do things that he knows are not accepted.

The article continues to explain that the person will not only commit the crime, he will not feel guilty or bad about it. We see this in many situations. Someone will get caught for committing an illegal crime, and that person will not admit that they did something wrong. How can this be? How can a person...

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4. Bandura, A. 1986. Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall..
5. Bandura, A. 1989. Human agency in social cognitive theory. American Psychologist, 44(9): 1175–1184. [CrossRef],[PubMed], [Web of Science ®], [CSA]
6. Blackburn, R. 1998
8. Burgess, R. L. and Akers, R. L. 1966. A differential association-reinforcement theory of criminal behavior. Social Problems, 14(2): 128–147. [CrossRef], [Web of Science ®], [CSA]
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