3. Criminology Patterns & Crime Statistics .docx
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Sept 26 2011
Patterns of Criminology and Methods of Gathering Crime Statistics
Criminological knowledge is based on science a logical organized method of
obtaining information through direct, systematic observation. Scientific
knowledge is based on empirical evidence, info that is directly verifiable
A research method is a strategy for systematically conducting research
Concepts, variables and measurement
-Concepts are mental constructs that represent some part of
the world, inevitable in a simplified form
- Variables are concepts whose value changes from case to case
-Operationalizing a variable is the process of developing the
measure to be used in gauging a variable
Measurement and Relationships
Measurement requires reliability – the quality of consistent measurement
and validity – the quality of measuring precisely what one intends to
Relationships among variables
- Cause and effect is a relationship in which change in one
variable causes change in another
- Correlation exists when two or more variables are related in
Relationship between Variables
Cause ----------------- Effect
Independent Variable ---------------- Dependent Variable
Limitations of Scientific Research
Human behaviour is too complex to allow criminology to predict and
individuals actions precisely
Because humans respond to their surroundings, the mere presence of a
researcher may affect the behaviour being studied
Social patterns change constantly; what is true in one time or play may not
hold in another
Because criminologists are part of the social world they study, objectivity in
social research is especially difficult
Subjective interpretation is always an important element in criminology
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Qualitative Research – the non-numerical examination of interpretation
Quantitative Research – the numerical representation of observation
Cross Sectional – compares different groups at one point in time
Measures attitudes, opinions, beliefs, values and behaviour
Limitations of Survey Research
How do you find a representative sample?
Will people respond to your survey?
Will people tell the truth about their behaviour and opinions?
Studies the same group (cohort) over a period of time (prisoners on parole)
May use interviews, diaries health and employee records
Time – consuming
Sample attrition (people may drop out of the research)
Aggregate Data Research
Government statistics, social indicators, uniform crime reports
Used to detect relationships and trends (unemployment rates and property
Can you depend on the agencies taking the count or are they biased?
Requires willing subjects (human guinea pigs)
Needs an experimental and control group for comparison
Subjects must be randomly assigned to groups
Seeks out cause and effect under highly controlled conditions. Typically
experiments are explanatory, that is, used to test hypotheses, unverified
statements of a relationship between variables
Difficulties with experimental Research
Is it ethical?
Is it realistic?
Uses a real situation for experimental purposes (compare the recidivism rates of
young offenders sent to boot camp or given community service)
Participant observation (join the group you wish to observe for a first hand
Non-participant observation (Go undercover)
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