WDW205 Lecture 5 10/15/2012
Biology, Psychology and Crime
- know particular trends
- Studying findings, what are the findings that support and bring the theory
- Policy implications, short answers: can be in point form: Week 1, 5 questions,
Week 2, 6 questions, Week 3, 5 questions, Week 4, 7 questions, Week 5, 7
- Attempts to understand the psychological processes that motivate crime
- a focus on individual mental functioning
o Psychodynamic / psychoanalytic
The Psychoanalytic Perspective
- Focus on early childhood experiences.
o Major destructions can have a profound impact on behavior
- Contributions of Sigmund Freud
- The preconscious, conscious and unconscious mind.
- The ID, Ego and Superego
- Developmental stages (oral stage, anal stage and genital stage).
o Any destructions can impact developmental stages
- Neuroses (afraid to lose control)
o Feelings of guilt at an early stage may result in committing physical
- Psychotics (have lost control).
o Stuck at the ID stage of develops, the drive for desires
o Lack of self control, lack of apathy, can act in a criminal behavior
without feeling guilt
- Freud and guilt
- Case by case analysis; psychodynamic
Theories Influenced by Freud
- Alfred Adler (Inferiority Complex) the idea because of early hood
destructions, one would want to over come this inferiority
- Erik Erikson (Identity Crisis) who am I
- August Aichorn (latent delinquency) poorly developed conscious mind, ego
or superego, lack of self control and apathy leading to criminality
- Human behavior is learned
- Focus on rewards and punishments
- Crime is not necessarily abnormal or immature • Crime can be perfectly normal
- Children learn from adult role models
- if they observe parental crime and violence in their youth, they are more
likely to repeat this behavior
Three Main Influences
- Immediate neighborhood – peers
- The media (exposure)
• The vast majority of our population is exposed to extremely violent
media over the past week
• If violence was caused by media exposure we should become a much
more violence society then crime dropping
• Violent media is much more accessible, but more safer
• Certain members of our society may be more vulnerable to media
violence than others (those who spend/grow up with the television
with the absence of parental discretion)
What Triggers Violence?
- An event that heightens arousal
- Aggressive skills
- Expected positive outcomes
- Pro-violence attitudes or beliefs
• Learned behaviors and attitudes, therefore learn criminal behavior
- Focus on mental functioning and the way people mentally represent the
world around them.
- Moral and Intellectual Development Theory (psychopathology).
• All individuals go through different stages, a low level of moral
development is controlled by the fear of punishment
• Not to engage in crime because it is morally right, free of violence,
thus higher level of reasoning
• The lower your state the more likely hood you are to engage in
• Social environments and how you are shaped
- Personality and Crime (psychopathology).
- IQ and Crime.
• People with low IQs are not able to reason their way out of violent
• IQ is related to success in legitimate society
Biosocial and Psychological theories: policy options
- A focus on the individual criminal. Each case is unique – social influences are
de-emphasized. - Rise of the “treatment” industry (medical specialists, psychologists,
psychiatrists, social workers, therapists, drug treatment experts, councilors,
- The intensive use of pharmaceuticals.
Criticism of Biosocial and Psychological Theories
- Race and social class bias
- a focus on violent and sexual crimes. Can’t adequately explain other forms of
- Ignores social factors that might explain crime
- Cant account for changes in crime over time and place
- Problems with research methods (small sample sizes, lack of proper control
Economics, Social Strain and Crime
The Class-Crime Relationship
- is there an empirical relationship between social class and crime?
- Does the type of data used- police data, survey data, prison data etc., explain
the class-crime relationship?