The Latent Traint Theory and Violent Crime

The Latent Trait Theory and Violent Crime
Petra Torri
Nova Southeastern University
[CRJU 2220: Criminology
Prof. J. Brecher]

The Latent Trait Theory and Violent Crime

Developmental theories, such as the Latent Trait Theory explain criminal behavior through life-course fundamentals. Violent crimes, such as murder and battery are accordingly the result of behavior that has been shaped starting in one’s childhood. This paper explains violent behavior and it’s causes through the Latent Trait theory and gives insight into the theory’s origin, as well as highlights how criminal behavior can be rehabilitated.

The Latent Trait Theory and Violent Crime
The Latent Trait Theory is a developmental theory, which explains violent crime from a developmental perspective. This paper gives insight into the Latent Trait Theory, which states certain personality types and traits are the cause of criminal behavior. Personality traits, which lead to violent crime are inherited and acquired early in life through childhood experiences. In addition, this paper explains the origins of the Latent Trait Theory, and it suggests rehabilitation methods for criminal offenders. The Origins of the Latent Trait Theory

According to Siegel (2011), David Rowe, D. Wayne Osgood, and W. Alan Nicewander presented the Latent Trait Theory in 1990. The Latent Trait Theory suggests that criminals are born with certain personality traits that make them prone to criminality. For those not born with those traits, it is also possible to acquire them early in life. These latent traits include impulsiveness, defective intelligence, genetic abnormalities, imbalances of the physical-chemical functioning of the brain caused by drugs, chemicals, and injuries, as well as axis II personality disorders as listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Siegel, 2011). The Latent Trait Theory suggests that humans are controlled by a fundamental main trait, which controls one’ behavior. Some supporters of the Latent Trait theory believe that this main trait can change over the course of one’s lifetime. Others suggest that this main trait remains stable and inflexible over the course of one’s life. Further, one’s environment can influence how this trait takes shape during the course of a lifetime. If opportunity to commit crime presents itself, then individuals, who are already prone to criminality due to the presence of a major latent trait, will most likely turn to crime. According to the Latent Trait Theory, criminal behavior is determined by the presence of a major latent personality trait, which again is determined by external forces, such as interpersonal relationships, and criminal opportunity (Siegel, 2011). Violent Crime

According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR), an estimated 1,246, 248 violent crime occurred in our nation in 2010. This is a decrease in violent crime by 6 percent from the previous year. Yet it still means that 403.6 violent crimes occur per 100, 000 inhabitants. Of these, aggravated assaults account for the highest number among violent crime, followed by robbery, forcible rape, and murder. Most violent crimes are committed with the use of firearms (FBI, 2011).

Victims of violent crime and their families often experience immense physical distress, in addition to negative psychological consequences, such as for example behavioral, and social consequences like depression, substance abuse, fearfulness, and post-traumatic stress disorder (Simon, Kresnow, & Bossarte, 2008).

In addition, violent crime that occurs within the privacy of one’s home often does not get reported. Violence and violent crime that occurs in relationships are not uncommon, and often the victims do not report the crime because they are intimidated, or fearful (Simon, Kresnow, & Bossarte, 2008). Latent Traits and Violent Crime

Impulsivity is one of the major latent personality traits that make individuals...

References: Bossarte, R., Kresnow, M., & Simon, T. (2008). Self-reports of violent victimization among
Bynum, T., Corsaro, N., Hipple, N., & Mc Garrell, E. (2010), Project safe neighborhoods and
violent crime trends in US cities: Assessing violent crime impact
FBI (2011). Uniform Crime Report. Retrieved from
Farb Feldman, A., Grunden, L., Matjasko, J. & Needham, B. (2010). Violent victimization and
perpetration during adolescence: Developmental stage dependent ecological models
National Commission on Correctional Health Care (2011). Mental Health Services in
Correctional Settings
US Department of Health and Human Services (2006). TIP 45: Detoxification and Substance
Abuse Treatment
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