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Lecture 3

PSYCH 230 Week 3 Readings.docx

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Chris Burris

Week 3 Readings: Psychology and the Legal System- Chapter 3 Psychology of Crime  Criminology: the study of crime and criminal behaviour o Serious offending is decreasing, however most Americans that crime is their number 1 concern o Individuals still view crime as a major threat because the publicity of crime, the high rate of violent crime (juveniles are involved in high profile fatal events)  School Violence o Public becomes fearful about crime because it occurs in traditionally safe-environments o School ground homicides remain rare; motives seem to go back to the backgrounds of the boys (isolation, preoccupied in violent media, teasing, fascination with guns) o ** Threat assessment: considering the nature of the threat, the risk posed by the individual, and the needed response to reduce the risk of harmful action Theories of Crime as Explanations of Criminal Behaviour  Classical school of Criminology: Beccaria and Bentham o Believed the punishment should fit the crime; people freely choose between right and wrong  Positivist school of Criminology o Certain factors determined criminal behaviour (biological, psychological, environmental etc) 4 Contemporary Theories (categories) 1. Sociological Theories a. Crime may appear to result from an individual's experience/ social or cultural forces that are external to any specific individual 2. Biological Theories of Crime a. Genetic influences, neuropsychological abnormalities; and biological abnormalities b. Little evidence that independently biological factors affect criminal behaviour 3. Psychological Theories a. Personality attributes that are uniquely possessed 4. Social-psychological Theories o Bridge the gap between environmentalism of sociology and individualism of psychology o SOCIOLOGICAL THEORIES OF CRIME This is divided into two groups: structural explanations and subcultural explanations  Structural explanations o Certain groups of people suffer fundamental equalities in opportunities to achieve the goals valued by society (Durkheim: anomie)  Legal means of achieving goals is blocked o Differential opportunity: tried to explain Black youth in crime; denied job opportunities  Aspiration, frustration, and opportunity  Subcultural explanations o A conflict between norms held by different groups cause criminal behaviour o Miller's theory of focal concern  The criminal activity of lower-class adolescent gangs as an attempt to achieve the ends valued in their culture through behaviours that appear best suited  Does not explain crime by individuals who are not socially disadvantaged BIOLOGICAL THEORIES OF CRIME Search for general vulnerabilities, neurophyso
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