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Lecture 11

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Department
Psychology
Course
PSYC 3402
Professor
Julie Blais
Semester
Winter

Description
Lecture 11 The age-crime curve - Research consistently shows: • Criminal behavior peaks in late adolescence/early adulthood • Shows a sharp decline after age 30 • Drops a lot after 25, very few people commit crime after this • Crime curve pattern • The average is about 17 years of crime, about a 2 decade period involved in crime. Clusters around this period - Adult criminal career: • 6 years (Blumstein & Cohen, 1987) • 17 years (Ezell, 2007) - Wide variation: • 4-30 years (Piquero et al., 2004) - Psychopathic offenders desist later: between the ages of 30 and 40 How does age affect crime? - Decline in physical strength (not strong enough to overpower) - Lost contact with antisocial peers - Maturation (different or late puberty) - Change in social/institutional environment - Cognitive changes/changes in subjective interpretation of environment Other Reasons behind Age-Crime Curve - Learning to evade detection - Change from illegal to legal antisocial activities - Ongoing antisocial behavior that does not lead to arrest Research on the Mechanisms behind Desistance Burn out - Physical ageing • 50% of active offenders believed they were in worse physical condition at time of interview compared to 5 years prior • 20% of desisting offenders endorsed this belief • Many ex-offenders felt they were in better condition due to abstinence from drugs The genius-age link - Scientific productivity fades rapidly with age - Most significant contributions occur during the five years around age 30 - Alot of behaviors decline after 25-35 age years - Took most sign contributions and plotted them and saw there is an increase in scientific productivity around 25 then dropped off around 30 - Jazz musicians Authors Artists An evolutionary process? - Competitive effort • Leads to productivity of different kinds • Increases one’s reproductive success But, is it the same for everybody? - Where are the individual differences? • Burn out • Other biological changes • Unconscious desire for reproduction (evolutionary influences) Different Trajectories in the Curve - Up swing and down swing in criminal behavior - Not so serious crime but all through life course - Psychopathy-high level chronics, start fast and strong through youth - People will start a bit later, never reach height of typical patter because they started a bit late Different trajectories within the curve - Around 70% of offenders follow curve (Blokland et al., 2005; Piquero et al., 2001) - 50% are in the process of desisting (Wiesner & Capaldi, 2003) • About 50 % of offenders are on their way out at any given point in time - Age of onset important predictor in how long career lasts – finish at same age (Ezell, 2007; Francis et al., 2007) • Everyone is finishing at the same age, but the people who start young have longer than those who start later but they end at same time - Initial severity level and number of offences also important (Wiesner & Capaldi, 2003) - No smooth lines Random - But, still, some offenders desist while others persist…why? - For those who desist…how? - The risk factors for depression (negative thinking, etc.) allowed people to understand how the people started treatment - Looking at change across treatment session, it was the positive thing (optimism, good social support) and strength factors that predicted how fast and how much people change Risk vs. desistance - Risk determined early • Risk is determined early, look at things in childhood - Later events determine the rest • But its events later in life that help us understand where they go from there • It was of things happening in life that predicted whether the person was going to give up crime or not - Twin study: estimated the heritability of antisocial behavior at about 50%, but changes over time were result of non-shared environment (Burt et al., 2007) Desistance ≠ Reverse of Risk - Desistance cannot occur without history of crime • People who are desisting are high risk for crime - Early criminal history variables predict early adult offending, but lose predictive power (Blumstein & Nakamura, 2009) • The early criminal career variables aren't telling us about this desistence - Variation in criminal career cannot be explained entirely by pre-criminal individual differences • Variation in the criminal career cannot be explained by the differences before they got involved in crime* must look at factors while involved in crime to see what the future pattern will be - Offenders report different risk/desistance factors (Lloyd et al., 2007) What are the strengths? - Adult Opportunities/Variables • Substance recovery • Employment • Marriage • Shifts in thinking/beliefs Substance misuse - Giving up substances often key part of giving up crime - However, understanding the motivation & effort to become sober is not as clear cut - Recovery from addiction requires many internal & external resources/strengths Desistance and life factors - Employment • (Uggen, 2000) - Marriage • (Sampson & Laub, 2005) • Marriages that lasted at least 5 years • If you are married, you have higher satisfaction • Quality and nature of the marriage matters Marriage and desistance - DifferentialAssociation • Disassociation with antisocial peers (Warr, 1998) - Social Control Theory • Stakes in conformity (Sampson & Laub, 2005)  Once good things start happening they want to keep them going (ex: get married and don’t want to fuck it up) - Quality of MaritalAttachment • Relationship quality (Laub et al., 1998; Maume et al., 2005) • Only enduring marriages associated with decreases in crime (Theobald & Farrington, 2010) • Ex: There was a study where after marriage criminal activity went back up, so its good quality marriage that is associated with no crime Example: Marriage & Drug Use - People who had low satisfaction were better if they separated from their partner. - The relationship quality matters - If they had a good relationship with someone using alcohol all the time it wasn’t good for them • The nature of what your partner is doing is just as influential as the quality (Ex: good quality relationship with a bad ass= you’re going to be bad ass mf) But, is marriage causal? - Estimates around 30-35% reduction effect • Taking into account 25 variables that predict getting married (Sampson et al., 2006) • Twin study using MZ brothers as comparison (Burt et al., 2010)  You would have to have random assignment to see if this is actually a casual effect  Marriage needs to be taken seriously as a study factor Marriage for offenders: Where are our volunteers? - Traits that predict offending are not attractive to romantic partners • 49% reported having dated a man with a criminal record • 54% said they would remain faithful to an incarcerated husband (but not a boyfriend) • Having prior boyfriend or family member with a criminal record reduced odds of considering marriage to an ex-offender Policy implications? - Teach social skills needed to sustain relationships - Encourage commitment to relationship - Encourage children to consider benefits of marriage over other forms of partnerships - But, isn’t marriage changing? • Social shifts in perception/definition of marriage (Hayford & Furstenberg, 2008; Schroeder et al., 2007) • Cohabiting does not have a desistance effect (Horney et al., 1995; Li & MacKenzie, 2003), but most studies can be criticized for being several decades old (Lyngstad & Skardhamar, 2010) • Perhaps cohabitation? (Savolainen, 2009) • What explains: quality, commitment or both? Multiple aspects - Giving up crime – doesn’t occur in a vacu
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