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Chapter 9 Developmental Theories: Life Course and Latent Trait.

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1 Chapter 9 Developmental Theories: Life Course and Latent Trait

2 Developmental Theories Seek to identify, describe, and understand the development factors the explain the onset and continuation of a criminal career Seek to identify, describe, and understand the development factors the explain the onset and continuation of a criminal career –Intertwining of personal factors, social factors, socialization factors, cognitive factors, and situational factors –Two distinct groups: 1. Life course theories 2. Latent trait theories

3 The Life Course View The Glueck Research The Glueck Research –Popularized the research on the life cycle of delinquent careers –The deeper the roots of childhood maladjustment, the smaller the change of adult adjustment –Family relations are paramount in terms of quality of discipline and emotional ties with parents

4 The Life Course View The Glueck Research The Glueck Research –Children most likely to be delinquent: Low IQs Low IQs A background of mental disease, and A background of mental disease, and A powerful physique A powerful physique

5 The Life Course View Life Course Concepts Life Course Concepts –Loeber & LeBlanc –Loeber & LeBlanc Devoted time to the evolution of the criminal career Devoted time to the evolution of the criminal career –Attention should be given to how a criminal career unfolds –People may show a propensity of offend early in their lives

6 The Life Course View Problem Behavior Syndrome Problem Behavior Syndrome –Criminal behavior is one of many antisocial behaviors that cluster together and typically involve family dysfunction, sexual and physical abuse, substance abuse, smoking, and precocious sexuality.

7 Two distinct viewpoints: Two distinct viewpoints: 1. Life course theories Criminality is viewed as a dynamic processCriminality is viewed as a dynamic process Influenced by a multitude of:Influenced by a multitude of: Individual characteristics Individual characteristics Traits Traits Social Experiences Social Experiences The Life Course View

8 Two distinct viewpoints: Two distinct viewpoints: 1. Life course theories 2. Latent trait theories Human development is controlled by a master traitHuman development is controlled by a master trait Master trait is present at birth or soon afterMaster trait is present at birth or soon after The Life Course View

9 Some people are incapable of maturing in a reasonable and timely fashion because of family, environmental and personal problems Some people are incapable of maturing in a reasonable and timely fashion because of family, environmental and personal problems –The propensity to commit crime is neither stable nor constant –Life course theories are multidimensional Suggesting criminality has multiple roots Suggesting criminality has multiple roots

10 Figure 9.1 Life Course and Latent Trait Theorie s The Life Course View

11 Disruption promotes criminality Disruption promotes criminality –Disruptions in lifes major transitions Can be destructive Can be destructive Can promote criminality Can promote criminality –People influenced by different factors as they mature –Negative life events can become cumulative

12 The Life Course View Changing Life Influences Changing Life Influences –First –First Family relations Family relations –Adolescence –Adolescence School and peer relations School and peer relations –Adulthood –Adulthood Vocational achievement Vocational achievement Marital relations Marital relations

13 The Life Course View Problem Behavior Syndrome Problem Behavior Syndrome –All varieties of criminal behavior may be part of a generalized PBS Unemployment Unemployment Educational underachievement Educational underachievement School misconduct School misconduct Residing in high crime and disorganized areas Residing in high crime and disorganized areas Exposure to racism and poverty Exposure to racism and poverty Personal problems such as suicide attempts, sensation seeking, early parenthood, accident-proneness, medical problems, mental disease, anxiety, and eating disorders Personal problems such as suicide attempts, sensation seeking, early parenthood, accident-proneness, medical problems, mental disease, anxiety, and eating disorders

14 The Life Course View Pathways to Crime Pathways to Crime –Loeber and associates identified 3 distinct pathways to a criminal career Authority conflict: Authority conflict: –Begins at an early age with stubborn behavior Covert pathway: Covert pathway: –Begins with minor underhanded behavior and leads to property damage Overt pathway: Overt pathway: –Escalates into aggressive acts and then to violence

15 Figure 9.2 Loebers Pathways to Crime The Life Course View

16 Age of Onset/Continuity of Crime Age of Onset/Continuity of Crime –Life course theory suggests criminal careers are planted early in life May begin with truancy, cruelty to animals, lying, and theft May begin with truancy, cruelty to animals, lying, and theft Some offenders peak at an early age, whereas others persist into adulthood Some offenders peak at an early age, whereas others persist into adulthood

17 The Life Course View Age of Onset/Continuity of Crime Age of Onset/Continuity of Crime –Continuity and desistance: Poor parental discipline and monitoring may be key to early criminality Poor parental discipline and monitoring may be key to early criminality Rejection by peers and academic failure sustains antisocial behavior Rejection by peers and academic failure sustains antisocial behavior

18 The Life Course View Gender Similarities and Differences Gender Similarities and Differences –Like boys, early onset girls continue to experience difficulties such as Drug/alcohol use Drug/alcohol use Poor school adjustment Poor school adjustment Mental health problems, and Mental health problems, and A variety of relationship dysfunctions A variety of relationship dysfunctions

19 The Life Course View Gender Similarities and Differences Gender Similarities and Differences –Early onset path for males results in: Problems at work Problems at work Substance abuse Substance abuse –Early onset pathways for females are more likely to lead to: Depression Depression A tendency to commit suicide A tendency to commit suicide

20 The Life Course View Adolescent Limiteds and Life Course Persisters Adolescent Limiteds and Life Course Persisters –Moffet –Moffet Most offenders are adolescent limited in that antisocial behavior peaks and then diminishes Most offenders are adolescent limited in that antisocial behavior peaks and then diminishes –A small group of offenders are persisters Begin offending at an early age and continue into adulthood Begin offending at an early age and continue into adulthood

21 The Life Course View Adolescent Limiteds and Life Course Persisters Adolescent Limiteds and Life Course Persisters –Early starters experience: 1. Poor parenting 2. Deviant behaviors 3. Involvement with delinquent groups

22 The Life Course View Supporting Research Supporting Research –Recent research supports Moffits views –Early onset delinquents are influenced by individual traits –Early onset delinquents are influenced by individual traits Low verbal ability Low verbal ability Hyperactivity, and Hyperactivity, and Negative personality traits Negative personality traits –Community-level factors such as poverty and instability seem to have little effect on their behavior

23 Theories of the Criminal Life Course The Social Development Model The Social Development Model –Integration of social control, social learning, and structural theories Weis, Catalano, Hawkins Weis, Catalano, Hawkins –Community-level risk factors contribute to criminality Social control, disorganization, and opportunities Social control, disorganization, and opportunities –Prosocial bonds may inhibit antisocial behaviors Attachment to conventional activities and beliefs Attachment to conventional activities and beliefs –SDM-based interventions can help reduce delinquency and drug abuse

24 Theories of the Criminal Life Course Sampson and Laub: Age-Graded Theory Sampson and Laub: Age-Graded Theory –Sampson & Laub identified turning points (critical events) that may enable an offender to desist from crime Career and marriage are turning points Career and marriage are turning points –Social Capital: Refers to positive relations with individuals and institutions, which support conventional behavior Refers to positive relations with individuals and institutions, which support conventional behavior –People who maintain a successful marriage and become parents are more likely to mature out of crime

25 Figure 9.3 Sampson and Laubs Age- Graded Theory Theories of the Criminal Life Course

26 Testing Age-Graded Theory Testing Age-Graded Theory –Indicators tend to support age-graded theory (i.e. employment) –Research suggests the greater the social capital, the more likely one will be insulated from crime

27 Theories of the Criminal Life Course The Marriage Factor: The Marriage Factor: People who marry and become parents are most likely mature out of crime People who marry and become parents are most likely mature out of crime –Laub and Sampson are following up on the original research cohort of the Gluecks –Recent research –Recent research Piquero, MacDonald, and Parker Piquero, MacDonald, and Parker –Future research –Future research Military, conforming to employment, etc. Military, conforming to employment, etc.

28 Latent Trait View Assumes some people have a personal attribute that controls their propensity to commit crime Assumes some people have a personal attribute that controls their propensity to commit crime –The trait is either present at birth or established early in life –Propensity and opportunity to commit crime fluctuate over time

29 Latent Trait View Crime and Human Nature Crime and Human Nature –Wilson & Herrnsteins human nature theory –Wilson & Herrnsteins human nature theory Genetics, intelligence, and body build contribute to criminality Genetics, intelligence, and body build contribute to criminality –Biological and psychological traits influence crime choice and non-crime choices –Their work suggests the existence of an elusive trait that predisposes people to commit crime

30 Latent Trait Theories General Theory of Crime (GTC) General Theory of Crime (GTC) –Gottfredson & Hirschi modified social control theory and integrated concepts of biosocial, psychological, routine activities, and rational choice theories –GTC considers the offender and the criminal act as separate concepts –People commit crime when it promises rewards and they are predisposed to commit crime

31 Latent Trait Theories General Theory of Crime (GTC) General Theory of Crime (GTC) –Tendencies to commit crime is contingent on a persons level of self-control –Root of poor self-control is traced to inadequate child- rearing practices –Gottfredson and Hirschi maintain the GTC explains all varieties of criminal behavior –Empirical evidence tends to support the GTC

32 Latent Trait Theories The Act and the Offender The Act and the Offender –The criminal act and the criminal offender are separate concepts Criminal Acts: Criminal Acts: –Illegal events that offenders engage in when seen as advantageous Criminal Offenders: Criminal Offenders: –People predisposed to commit crimes But not robots But not robots

33 Figure 9.4 Gottfredson and Hirschis General Theory of Crime Latent Trait Theories

34 Impulsivity and Crime? Impulsivity and Crime? –Self-Control People with limited self-control: People with limited self-control: –Impulsive –Insensitive –Physical rather than mental –Risk-takers –Shortsighted –Nonverbal

35 Latent Trait Theories Self-Control and Crime Self-Control and Crime –All crime stems from a deficiency in self-control –Differences in gender, race, and ecology –Differences in gender, race, and ecology Can be explained by differences in self-control Can be explained by differences in self-control –Explains all crimes

36 Latent Trait Theories Support for GTC Support for GTC –Numerous studies U.S. and Abroad U.S. and Abroad –Relationship between impulsiveness and self-control and crime

37 Latent Trait Theories Analyzing the General Theory of Crime Analyzing the General Theory of Crime –Some critics charge GTC is: Tautological: Tautological: –Crime and impulsive behavior Different Classes of Criminals: Different Classes of Criminals: –Research indicates offenders occupy more than one class and more than one factor may contribute to their criminality Ecological/Individual Differences: Ecological/Individual Differences: –Fails to address individual and ecological patterns in crime rates

38 Latent Trait Theories Analyzing the General Theory of Crime Analyzing the General Theory of Crime –Some critics charge GTC is: Racial and Gender Differences: Racial and Gender Differences: –Little evidence that males are more impulsive than females and overlooks racism and poverty issues Moral Beliefs: Moral Beliefs: –GTC ignores the moral concept of right and wrong Peer Influence: Peer Influence: –Negative influences of peers increases the likelihood of criminality rather than reducing it

39 Latent Trait Theories Analyzing the General Theory of Crime Analyzing the General Theory of Crime –Some critics charge GTC is: People Change: People Change: –Propensity to commit crime does change and it is not static as suggested by GTC Modest Relationship: Modest Relationship: –Self control is modestly related to antisocial behavior Cross Cultural Differences: Cross Cultural Differences: –GTC may be weak in cross-national studies

40 Latent Trait Theories Analyzing the General Theory of Crime Analyzing the General Theory of Crime –Some critics charge GTC is: Misreads Human Nature: Misreads Human Nature: –GTC assumes people are selfish, self-serving, and hedonistic Personality Disorder: Personality Disorder: –GTC ignores personality disorders

41 Evaluating Developmental Theories Criminal Careers Criminal Careers –Must be understood as a passage along which people travel –Factors affecting a criminal career may include –Factors affecting a criminal career may include Structural factors Structural factors –Income and status Socialization factors Socialization factors –Family and peer relations

42 Evaluating Developmental Theories Criminal Careers Criminal Careers –Factors affecting a criminal career may include –Factors affecting a criminal career may include Pyschological factors Pyschological factors –Intelligence and personality Opportunity factors Opportunity factors –Free time, inadequate protection and a supply of easily stolen merchandise

43 Public Policy Implications of Developmental Theory Policy Implications Policy Implications –Multi-systematic treatment efforts –Programs targeting those at high risk to improve their developmental skills –SMART (skills, mastery, and resistance training)


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