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PSYC39H3 (201)
Chapter 1

PSYC39 - chapter 1.docx

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University of Toronto Scarborough
David Nussbaum

PSYC39 – Ch1. Crime in Canada The influence of the media Current Context - this text focus on a psychological understanding of criminal behaviour with a consideration of individual and intra-individual influences. - Psychology is interested in: intra-individual differences: variations in criminal conduct within an individual across time and situations inter-individual differences: variation in criminal conduct between individuals - Psychology focuses on individuals, whereas sociology focuses more on groups - The terms used to define the study of criminal behaviour vary somewhat across different texts Forensic psychology: any application of psychology to the legal system (Pozzulo, Bennell, and Forth 2008) but some serve the term for the practice of clinical psychology within the legal system  reflects issues of risk assessment and expert testimony that intended to guide legal decision making than the understanding of criminal behaviour. - Correctional psychology (US and Canada): the specific psychological study of criminal behaviour (Magaletta and Boothby, 2002) (UK: referred to as criminological psychology) the focus is to understand the assessment and management of individuals who engage in criminal behaviour. to follow the dispositions by the court, not the actual issues relating to the operation of justice. - The phenomenon of decreased criminal activity with the increase in age is the process: crime desistance. group-based explanations of crime acquisition and desistance must be informed by individual difference explanations in order to situate a psychological understanding of crime - The Personal, Interpersonal and Community-Reinforcement model (PIC-R; Andrews and Bonta 2006) posits that criminal behaviour reflects the immediate situation in that factors (e.g. temptation, facilitators, inhibitors, and stressors) combine to influence a decision to engage in criminal behaviour. Community: family of origin, social economic factors Interpersonal: family/child relations, childhood attachment, neglect, abuse, ties to criminal others personal: early conduct problems, biological factors such temperament and verbal intelligence, gender and age Consequence: whether criminal behaviour is rewarded - the PIC-R reflects a learning theory of crime that attends to social and cognitive factors and behaviour, underscoring it as a contemporary cognitive social learning theory of crime. - Farrington’s (2003) theory (contemporary criminological viewpoint), long-term risk factors (biological, individual, family, peer, school, community and school) interact with short-term ones (energizing and inhibiting factors, opportunity, antisocial tendency and cognitive processes) to influence antisocial behaviour. (similar to the PIC-R model) Definition of Crime - Types of definitions typically include legal, moral, social, and psychological explanations. - Criminal behaviour refers to intentional behaviour that violates a criminal code; intentional in that it did not occur accidentally or without justification of excuse. (Barto and Bartol 2008) - A definition of crime is critical in that the specific description will influence prevalence, i.e. a more conservative or restrictive definition will decrease the rate of crime. - Any definition of crime must concede that there are inter-cultural variations regarding normative and acceptable behaviour, and that acceptable norms can change over time within a culture. - Sensitivity to legal and cultural issues must be reflected in psychological responses to criminal behaviour. Determinants of crime - Determinants of crime have often been described as distal (historical) and proximal (immediate, situational) - Literature reviews are helpful in understanding key issues related to criminality - A more useful strategy to empirically identify determinants of crime is through meta-analysis. Meta-analytic reviews are less biased in that they provide a quantitative estimate of the importance of the results rather than a narrative interpretation by the author. This method review studies and aggregate the findings in terms of effect sizes. First and second order correlates of criminal conduct - Variables appeared to be related to criminality are ranked and identified as the Central Eight risk/need factors – the most important factors in understanding criminal behaviour. - The Big Four are proposed as the major causal variables in the analysis of the criminal behaviour of individuals. (p.11) 1. History of antisocial 2. Antisocial personality pattern (adventurous pleasure seeking, weak self-control, restlessly aggressive) 3. Antisocial cognition 4. Antisocial associates - Major risk factors – considered as first order correlates of crime - Minor risk factors, confirmed by a series of meta-analyses, are variables that are previously considered important correlated of crime in sociological theory but have proved to be relatively unimportant now. considered as second order correlates of crime - The most compelling demonstration of the relative importance of major and minor risk factors comes from an ongoing research project and collaboration between the University of New Brunswick and Carleton University (Andrews and Bonta 2006) - Moderate risk factors – part of the Central Eight but are not major correlates - Some risk factors are static, cannot change - Dynamic risk factors can change, e.g. antisocial cognition, substance use - Major risk factors are often termed criminogenic in that they are empirically related to criminal conduct. When reduced, lead to reductions in future re-offending. - Thus criminogenic needs typically inform treatment referrals. Impact of Risk and Need model of criminal conduct - A provincial survey by Hannah-Moffat and Maurutto (2003) for young offender services confirmed that all provinces except Quebec utilize some form of a risk and need assessment modeled after the major risk factors - Most use variants of either the Wisconsin model or the Level of Service Inventory. - Adult assessments in provincial corrections reflect the Level of Service Inventory-Revised (LSI-R) or variations. - The federal correctional system, Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) uses an Offender Intake Assessment based on the Wisconsin model (recently refined and renames as a Dynamic Factor Identification Analysis) - All assessments are intended to assist in the identification of levels of criminal risk for decision purposes (security placement, release), specific treatment targets (criminogenic needs) and treatment planning. Role of Substance Use - Substance use – described as a moderate risk factor (based on a Pearson correlation with criminal conduct) - Inordinate numbers of offenders report substance abuse as an important precursor to their commission of crimes. E.g. for federal offenders 52.1% report regular drug use and 62.7% report regular alcohol use. - The use of alcohol or drugs is related to different types of violent crime, alcohol – interpersonal conflicts like assaults, homicides; drugs – more acquisitive violence like robbery. Sexual offenders are also more likely to abuse substances. - Despite the clear link between alcohol and crime, the nature of its influence is unclear. - McMurran and Gilchrist (2008) challenge the field to reconsider the role of substance abuse in domestic
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