Lecture 7 Criminology CRCJ 1000-C
PSYCHOLOGICALAND CRIME CHOICE THEORIES
Psychological positivism; Psychoanalysis; Personality theories; Psychopathy; Learning theories;
Moral development; Life-course criminology; Rational actor theories; Crime ‘scripts’; Routine
Activity Theory; Opportunity theory; Crime prevention policies.
I. Course Reader, Pp. 169-190, 243-268.
• Psychological theories • Crime choice theories
1. Psychoanalytic theory 1. Rational actor theory
2. Trait-based theories 2. Deterrence theory
3. Psychological Learning theories General & Specific
A. Classical conditioning 3. Crime Prevention Theory
B. Operant conditioning A. Crime pattern theory
C. Frustration-Aggression theory B. Situational crime prevention
D. Social Learning theory C. Designing crime out
NATURE VS NURTURE
• Last week focused on biocriminology; heavy emphasis on nature
• Like biological theories, psych/crime choice theories are individual-focussed (unlike sociological theories) but are
mostly interested in processes of nurture.
PSYCHOLOGICAL CRIME THEORIES
• Psychoanalytic theory
• Psychological Learning theories
A. Classical conditioning
B. operant conditioning
C. Frustration-Agression theory
D. Social Learning theory
• At the foundation of the Freudian psychoanalytic perspective is the assumption that the human personality is
driven by unconscious forces, many of them related to sexual desires.
Freudian approach, and psychoanalytic in general, are/is not scientific. It is paradigm.
• Freud said that personality had three components: the id, the ego, and the superego
• The id is the instinctual, impulsive part of our personality, that contains our hidden urges, desires, and wishes (i.e.,
the subconscious). It acts in accordance with “the pleasure principle,” which demands instant gratification for our
hidden urges, desires, and wishes.
• The superego develops as we mature, and is our moral compass, or conscience.
• The ego interfaces with reality, and regulates the demands of the id and superego. The ego operates in
accordance with “the reality principle” (attempts to delay gratification and operate in socially acceptable manner).
• Freudian criminologists attribute criminality to problems with: Lecture 7 Criminology CRCJ 1000-C
1. Lack of superego development. Child-rearing (poor parenting), early childhood development, Lack of ‘moral
2. Overactive superego: Individuals commit crimes in order to be punished (to lessen feelings of guilt). Referred to
as neurotic offenders.Also known as “stupid crimes.”
3. Weak ego: Impulsive (pleasure-seeking or hedonistic) offenders have a weak ego, which fails to control
behaviour and regulate the demands of the id. Especially focused on sex crimes.
PSYCHOANALYTICSAND “SEXUAL DEVIANCE”
• Sexual disorders are a result of suppressed, latent, and unconscious desires; and the inability of the person to
effectively deal with their desires.
• Re: Russel Williams case
Argument: not a heartless psychopath, but possesses a sexual disorder
• Preoccupation with sexual transgressions.
• “Trophies” as expression of suppressed desire
• Desire to get caught.
• Possible treatment: sexual disorders can be treated and managed.
• Psychoanalytic theory
• Trait-based theories
• Psychological Learning Theories
• Classical conditioning
• Operant Conditioning
• Frustration-Aggression theory
Social Learning theory
TRAIT-BASED PERSONALITY THEORIES
• Trait-based personality theories differ from psychoanalytic approach in that abnormal behaviour is said to stem
from abnormal or criminal personality traits rather than unconscious causes.
• Less subjective process of analysis
• Isolate traits connected to crime
• Crim theory has focussed on traits like impulsiveness, aggressiveness, extroversion, neuroticism, psychotisism,
thrill seeking, hostility, emotional volitility.
• Hervey Cleckly (1941) “Mask of Sanity”
• Late 18th century
• Pinel’s insanity without delirium
• Checkley’s The Mask of Sanity
• Since 1980s
• Hare’s Psychopathy checklist
• Psychopathy Checklist — revised (PCL-R)
1. Glibness (readily fluent)/superficial charm
2. Grandiose sense of self-worth
3. Pathological lying
5. Lack of remorse or guilt
6. Shallow affect
7. Callousness; lack of empathy
8. Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
9. Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
10. Parasitic lifestyle
11. Poor behaviour control
12. Lack of realistic long-term goals Lecture 7 Criminology CRCJ 1000-C
15. Juvenile delinquency
16. Early behaviour problems
17. Revocation of conditional release
18. Promiscuous sexual behaviour
19. Many short-term (marital) relationships
20. Criminal versatility
• Scale rates each on on 0-40
• Above 30 is psychopathy (3X for likely to reoffend, 4X to violently reoffend)
• Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), 556-item test consisting of 10 clinical scales, are said to show
a relationship between measures of psychopathic deviancy, schizophrenia, and hypomania (unproductive
hyperactivity) and later delinquency
• Numerous other trait-based tools for:
• Custody Rating Scales (Canadian prisons)
• Anti-social behaviours
• Susceptibility to drugs and gang crime
• Juvenile delinquency
• Trait-based diagnostics are often check-list style clinical assessments.
• Very popular tool
• Hare: Many psychopaths are not criminals
Psychopaths vs psychosis
• Ex. Magnotta case (Montreal man who decapitated and disembodied an international student. Cunning actor
• Challenge for this research is always: what is the correlation/causation of traits and/to crime? (Hare argues that
psychopathy is etiological in terms of anti-social behaviours, though those behaviours may not be criminalized).
• Often the research shows patterns and trends. But limited on personal applications.Always exceptions. Predictive
values are there, but need to be exercised carefully. High-risk in using them “preemptively.”
• Agreement on core features (lack of empathy), but often contradictory traits. For example, some measures of
psychopathy privilege extrovert behaviours while others privilege introverts
• Some checklists comprise many activities that are common and normal, particularly for young people: (breaking
rules, taking risks, drinking, not respecting parents and authorities).
RUSSEL WILLIAMSAND THE “MASK OF SANITY”
• Very successful career/life
• Exhibits rationalized traits towards violence
• Exhibits lack of empathy, remorse, etc.
• ‘Mask’makes predictive assessment almost impossible.
• Argument: not a sexual disorder, but a particular form of behavioural personality.
• Trophies as expression of suppresses desire
• Desire to get caught
• Highly conflicted self from forms of socialization
• Outcome: Rarely treatable, high likelihood of re-offending, high continued risk.
• Classical (Pavlovian) conditioning
• Skinner’s operant conditioning
• Positive/negative reinforcement & punishment
• Bandura’s Social learning theory
• External, internal & vicarious reinforcement
CLASSICAL CONDITIONING (PAVLOV) THEORY
• Pavlov’s dog Lecture 7 Criminology CRCJ 1000-C
Unconditional stimulus (food) → Unconditioned response (salivation)
• Unconditioned stimulus (food) together with conditioned stimulus (bell) → unconditioned response
• Conditioned stimulus (bell) → conditioned response (salivation)
• Arousal theory
• Paired feelings and activities;
• Possibility for increase of criminal behaviour: escalation theories
• How feelings of arousal connects to crimes (breaking in, takes lots of stuff but continues to engage because it feels
good and gets adrenaline going
• Escalation theory — do things to get a rush and have to keep stepping it up to get one
OPERANT CONDITIONING THEORY
Behaviourism; similar to classical conditioning, except that organism “operates” on its environment, learning what
works (and what does not work) through reward and punishment.
• C. Ray Jeffrey (1965) argued that “if the reward for crime is high and the likelihood of punishment is low, the
chances of criminal behaviour increase” (p. 177).
• Jeffrey also stressed that non-social reinforcers (money, goods, instinctual drives) are more ‘rewarding’than social
reinforcers (praise, status, sense of belonging).
• “Aggression as a normal response to frustration” pp.178
• However, most people can control frustration
• Most crime is a product of frustration and poor socialization
• Can also be combined with operant conditioning, and low perceived risks of punishment
Research focused on ‘opportunities’theory
• Influence on deterrence theories
• Material items (money, wealth) are more valuable to shape people's actions than respect, friends, etc.
• Skinner’s Deterrence theories — feelings develop through patterns of socialization
SOCIAL LEARNING THEORY (PSYCHOLOGY)
• Albert Bandura
• Bandura calls his theory “social cognitive theory,” or “social cognitivism”
• Not on reward and punishment but on the idea that individuals are complex beings who do not simply respond
mechanically but observe and analyze situations before they decide to act… In social learning, we watch others
and decide which patterns or behaviour to imitate.
In his famous Bobo Doll experiment, Bandura demonstrated that children would physically assault a Bobo Doll (a
toy clown) after observing adults attacking the Bobo Doll in order to work out their anger and frustration.
• Socialization and visuality- what we see in the world is how we condition ourselves
• Model ourselves by the good/bad we see
• Bobo doll shows not language based learning- its monkey see monkey do
• Bandura argued that modelling (imitation) is an important part of learning.
• Also known as observational or vicarious learning (do not have to engage in the behaviour in order to learn).
• Can watch others perform the behaviour, and see whether their behaviour is rewarded or punished.
• Vicarious reinforcement. Indirect, observations about rewarded behaviours of others. When we see others being
rewarded (or successful) we copy, imitate, aspire to be like them. But learning is often visual, done by watching.
• Modelling is influenced by the perceived status of the person(s) being observed. Parents/siblings, but also
celebrities, media figures, in(famous) criminals.
• “Killology” debates; school shootings, and video games.
• Not about iminate learning
• David Grossman, who has coined the term “killology” for his Web site (http://www.killology.com) and is explored in
his book, Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill:ACall toActionAgainst TV, Movie, and Video Game Violence (Grossman
and DeGaetano 1999). Grossman argues that video games incorporate the very same elements that the military
uses to train soldiers to kill the enemy, and they provide the rationalizations and practice mechanisms to train
teenagers to engage in school and other violence. Lecture 7 Criminology CRCJ 1000-C
Applies Bandura to a cultural critique.
• Applied Bandura's Theory
• Focused on gun violence and videogames and movies
• Social learning; heavy emphasis on personal agencies in adopting/modelling behaviours based on ‘role models’
• Focus on ‘imitation crimes,’‘copy cat crimes’
• Heavy emphasis on criminality being attached to media exposure, i.e. ‘becoming famous’
• Heavy emphasis on personal/criminal objectives of making social norms; being more ‘manly,’tough, etc.
• Bandura: Crime prevention best served by positive modelling strategies.
RE-CAP ON PSYCHOLOGICAL THEORIES OF CRIME
• Psych theories are highly specialized.Driven by experts and high levels of education/expertise.
Not very prescriptive. They re very good at description and understanding, evaluating individuals. Not as good at
prevention, with the exception of people already in the CJS.
• Strong emphasis on treatments and rehabilitation.
CRIME CHOICE THEORIES
1. Rational actor/choice theory
2. Deterrence theory
• General & Specific
3. Crime Prevention Theory
A. Crime pattern theory
B. Situational crime prevention
C. Designing crime out
• Individual crime theory, primarily inspired by classical theories of crime.
• Boyd uses term “crime choice theory” instead of “rational choice theory”
• Some dispute about terms like ‘rational’
• ‘Crime choice’theories assume that most, if not all, criminality is driven by rational actors.
• Boyd: we all make decisions:
• “Decision-making by criminal offenders is comparable to the decision-making process of non-offenders” (p. 244).
• As Farrell and Hodgkinson (2014) say, everybody breaks the law at one time or another.
• Crime: “Everybody