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Chapter 4

SOC*2700 Chapter 4

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University of Guelph
SOC 2700
C Yule

Friday, Jan 25, 2013 Chapter 4: Psychological Factors and Criminal Behaviour - there are 2 main types of psychological theories: those that focus on intelligence and those that focus on personality - low intelligence has probably been the psychological characteristic that has been used most often to explain criminal and delinquent behaviour - fell out of favor when research using IQ tests showed little proof - personality refers to the emotional and behavioural attributes that tend to remain stable as the individual moves from situation to situation - also consider biological and situational factors - argue that criminal behaviour is the result of normal learning processes Intelligence and Crime: Background Ideas and Concepts - inheritance and family line of descent (Darwin’s theory of evolution) became the natu- ralistic way of accounting for misfortune - Richard Dugdale used this to explain the history of a family called the “Jukes” - found 6 members in jail, traced the genealogy of the family back 200 years - found a “degenerate” nature of the family IQ Tests and Criminal Behaviour - originated with Alfred Binet - created the concept of “mental age” with his scale - IQ = mental age/chronological age x 100 - children whose mental ages were greater than their chronological ages would have IQs above 100 - Binet believed that children who were slower could improve their performance if prop- erly helped - Goddard gave intelligence tests to inmates and found that no inmate had a mental age over 13 - he concluded that most criminals were feebleminded - he discovered a large ground of “defectives” who were living in the pine barrens of New Jersey and traced their heritage back to a man who had had an illegitimate child by a “feebleminded” barmaid, of 480 descendants of this union, 143 were feebleminded - the man later married a righteous Quaker woman, a union resulting in 496 “normal” de- scendants Friday, Jan 25, 2013 - concluded that criminality and feeblemindedness were 2 aspects of the same degener- ate state - recommended that the feebleminded be institutionalized and not allowed to reproduce - during WWI, intelligence tests were used and nearly half of the draftees were diag- nosed as feebleminded - later on concluded that feeblemindedness might be remedied by education and it was not necessary to segregate the feebleminded and prevent them from reproducing Delinquency, Race, and IQ - African Americans, on average, score about 15 points lower than European Americans - some use this to explain the difference in crime and delinquency - later it was argued that low IQ was at least as important as class or race in predicting delinquency - more recently, attention has focused on the verbal abilities of delinquents as measured by IQ tests (tend to be low) - Quay suggested that low verbal ability may lead to school problems which may then lead to delinquency, low vernal abilities may be associated with a variety of other psy- chosocial problems and low verbal abilities may lead to a failure to develop higher-order cognitive processing - others have pointed out that verbal IQ is affected by education while performance IQ is not Interpreting the Association Between Delinquency and IQ - it seems clear that whatever it measures, low IQ scores are associated with crime and delinquency - first approach to explain this assumes that IQ measures some form of abstract reason- ing or problem-solving ability and that this is largely inherited - second approach argues that IQ does not measure innate ability, but instead mea- sures qualities that are related to the dominant culture - a third approach argues that IQ measure general abilities, but that these abilities are largely determined by a person’s environment - the third approach has received impressive support from research on what is known as the “Flynn effect” - James Flynn demonstrated that average IQ has been rising for at least 60 years in all countries Friday, Jan 25, 2013 - he hypothesized that increases in this ability are explained by changes in the environ- ment (better nutrition, better schooling) Personality and Criminal Behaviour - Gluecks published an intensive study that compared 500 delinquent and nondelin- quent boys - they argued that the delinquent personality is not so much a matter of the presence or absence of certain characteristics, but is more a matter of the interrelatedness of these characterized - delinquents are more extroverted, vivacious, impulsive, less self-controlled, more hos- tile resentful, defiant, suspicious and destructive - the MMPI was used to asses personality - personality characteristics of individuals who commit crimes are best understood in terms of 2 distinct and separate dimensions: agreeableness and conscientiousness - offenders tend to be low in agreeableness and low in conscientiousness - personality characteristics may not cause crime by both crime and personality may be caused by a third variabl
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