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Social Cognition and Crime Psychology and Crime. Social Cognition of Crime  Attribution theory  Locus of Control  Impulsivity  Learned Helplessness.

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Presentation on theme: "Social Cognition and Crime Psychology and Crime. Social Cognition of Crime  Attribution theory  Locus of Control  Impulsivity  Learned Helplessness."— Presentation transcript:

1 Social Cognition and Crime Psychology and Crime

2 Social Cognition of Crime  Attribution theory  Locus of Control  Impulsivity  Learned Helplessness  Cognitive Scripts  Communication model

3 Social Cognition/Attribution Theory

4  Everyone is a naïve psychologist (Heider)  Internal/External attributions  Fundamental Attribution Error (Ross)  Actor/Observer Difference (Jones & Nisbett)  Effects of Attributions (Jones, Rock et al.)  Self-fulfilling Prophecy

5 Social Cognition/Attribution Theory  Everyone is a naïve psychologist (Heider)  Internal/External attributions  Fundamental Attribution Error (Ross)  Actor/Observer Difference (Jones & Nisbett)  Effects of Attributions (Jones, Rock et al.)  Self-fulfilling Prophecy

6 Everyone is a naïve psychologist  Internal (dispositional) attributions  personality characteristics  beliefs  External (situational) attributions  situational pressure/influence  Example: Student turns in papers late  Internal:

7 Everyone is a naïve psychologist  Internal (dispositional) attributions  personality characteristics  beliefs  External (situational) attributions  situational pressure/influence  Example: Student turns in papers late  Internal:lazy, partying all the time

8 Everyone is a naïve psychologist  Internal (dispositional) attributions  personality characteristics  beliefs  External (situational) attributions  situational pressure/influence  Example: Student turns in papers late  Internal:lazy, partying all the time  External:

9 Everyone is a naïve psychologist  Internal (dispositional) attributions  personality characteristics  beliefs  External (situational) attributions  situational pressure/influence  Example: Student turns in papers late  Internal:lazy, partying all the time  External:family problems, working, girlfriend

10 Social Cognition/Attribution Theory  Everyone is a naïve psychologist (Heider)  Internal/External attributions  Fundamental Attribution Error (Ross)  Actor/Observer Difference (Jones & Nisbett)  Effects of Attributions (Jones, Rock et al.)  Self-fulfilling Prophecy

11 Fundamental Attribution Error  Lee Ross: Internal attributions more likely

12 Social Cognition/Attribution Theory  Everyone is a naïve psychologist (Heider)  Internal/External attributions  Fundamental Attribution Error (Ross)  Actor/Observer Difference (Jones & Nisbett)  Effects of Attributions (Jones, Rock et al.)  Self-fulfilling Prophecy

13 Actor/Observer Difference Joe (Observer) Bob (Actor) Steve

14 Actor/Observer Difference Joe (Observer) Bob (Actor) Steve Bob hits Steve. Why?

15 Actor/Observer Difference  OBSERVER-->Internal attribution  ACTOR-->External attribution  What is salient in the perceptual field?  For OBSERVER: The actor  For ACTOR: Everything but the actor (i.e., the situation)

16 Social Cognition/Attribution Theory  Everyone is a naïve psychologist (Heider)  Internal/External attributions  Fundamental Attribution Error (Ross)  Actor/Observer Difference (Jones & Nisbett)  Effects of Attributions (Jones, Rock et al.)  Self-fulfilling Prophecy

17 Effects of Attributions  Jones, Rock et al. (1968)  Subject is teacher; confederate is learner  I.V. Pattern of correct answers  1. Does well initially, finishes poorly (15 right)  2. Does poorly initially, finishes well (15 right)  3. Randomly gets correct and incorrect (15 right)  D.V. Intelligence ratings of learner

18 Effects of Attributions  Jones, Rock et al (1968)  Subject is teacher; confederate is learner  I.V. Pattern of correct answers  1. Does well initially, finishes poorly HIGHEST  2. Does poorly initially, finishes well LOWEST  3. Randomly gets correct and incorrect MIDDLE  D.V. Intelligence ratings of learner  Result: Primacy effect

19 Our initial explanations about the world can affect:  Our perception of others’ behavior (as we have seen)  Also:  Our perception of new information  Our perception of chance events

20 Initial attributions are persistent  BEHAVIOR (Jones, Rock et al.)  ATTITUDES (Lord, Ross, & Lepper)  Students’ attitudes on death penalty determined  Favored or Opposed  Shown two “new” studies on death penalty  Deterred crime or Didn’t  New opinions more extreme in initial direction  CHANCE EVENTS (Langer & Roth)  Flipped coin/successful in first 10 flips or not  Early success group: Higher prediction of accuracy in next 100 flips

21 Why are these biases important?  We may be totally wrong (false beliefs)  For example: Fundamental Attribution Error  These beliefs persist, resist disconfirmation  For example: Jones, Rock et al.  Our incorrect beliefs may create a new reality  For example: Self- fulfilling Prophecy

22 Social Cognition/Attribution Theory  Everyone is a naïve psychologist (Heider)  Internal/External attributions  Fundamental Attribution Error (Ross)  Actor/Observer Difference (Jones & Nisbett)  Effects of Attributions (Jones, Rock et al.)  Self-fulfilling Prophecy

23 Components of Self-fulfilling Prophecy  False belief (Expectation)  Actions, based on that belief  New reality created

24 Palmer and Hollin (2000)  Palmer and Hollin (2000) found that self-reported delinquency in young offenders was associated not only with lower levels of moral reasoning but also with increased tendencies to inaccurate attributions of hostility, especially in ambiguous situations where it may be difficult to accurately ascertain intentions.

25 Dodge (1986)  Dodge (1986) has argued that much violence comes from Hostile Attributional Bias. Ambiguous actions, like accidentally standing on a person's foot, are interpreted as threatening and must be countered with action.

26 Personal Control Internal Locus of Control You pretty much control your own destiny External Locus of Control Luck, fate and/or powerful others control your destiny Methods of Study Correlate feelings of control with behavior Correlate feelings of control with behavior Experiment by raising/lowering people’s sense of Experiment by raising/lowering people’s sense of control and noting effects

27 Locus of Control  A number of studies have shown that offenders tend to external control, that is they explain their behaviour as being controlled by influences beyond their personal control (Beck and Ollendick 1976; Kumchy and Sayer 1980).  other studies have failed to show any difference in locus of control between offender and non-offender samples (Drasgow et al. 1974; Groh and Goldenberg 1976);  Lefcourt and Ladwig (1965) found offenders to be more internally controlled than non- offenders.

28 Locus of Control  The varied findings are probably due to two unfounded assumptions: that locus of control is a unitary concept, and that offenders form a homogeneous population.  a number of studies have shown that there are several dimensions to locus of control, such as belief in control over one's immediate environment as opposed to belief in control over political events (Mirels 1970).

29 Locus of Control  locus of control within an offender population may be a function of race (Griffith et al. 1981); type of offence, for example, violent offenders tend to external control (Hollin and Wheeler 1982); or time spent in prison (Kiessel 1966).

30 Impulsivity  Failure in self-control  Unable to delay reward  a failure to learn to stop and think;  a failure to learn effective thinking';  a failure to generate alternative responses;  a reflection of hopelessness.

31 Impulsivity  Studies designed to find a link between impulsivity and crime give mixed results  The difference between studies may be due to  differing definitions and measures of impulsivity,  and the heterogeneity of the offender population.

32 Impulsivity  Uncontrolled episodes of anger may result from impulsivity or a tendency to follow impulses instinctively and without thought for the consequences.  It has been suggested that this is a common characteristic of most offending behaviour, i.e. the satisfaction of immediate needs.

33 Impulsivity  Impulsivity is strongly associated with psychopathy and anti-social personality (Blackburn, 1993)  can be measured using the Minnesota Multi-phasic Inventory (MMPI)

34 Cognitive-Social Learning  Learned Helplessness Seligman (1975) Learned helplessness the expectancy that one cannot escape aversive events & the motivational & learning deficits that result from the belief. Human depression Explanatory style pessimistic explanatory style causes of misfortune internal rather than external stable & global positive illusions Optimism

35 cognitive scripts (Huesmann, 1988).  A script is the details of how people should behave in a certain situation and what will happen if they behave that way.  These are learnt from the environment in direct experience and from watching others, and from the media.  But each script is unique to an individual, yet resistant to change.

36 cognitive scripts (Huesmann, 1988).  They become more resistant with use and rehearsal over time. For example, if insulted, a man with an ‘aggressive script' will respond violently. He will justify this behaviour by seeing the insult as aggression, and aggression must be faced by aggression.

37 cognitive scripts (Huesmann, 1988).  During high levels of physiological arousal, people resort to largely unthinking behaviour, and thus well- rehearsed scripts' take over.  So to teach non-aggressive scripts' will reduce violence in situations of high arousal (Zillmann (1988))

38 McGuire (1969) – Matrix of communication  The source – effective from another socially powerful offender  The message – agreeable information presented first. Immunisation against persuasion – weak arguments against crime easily countered – e.g. “Yes, you could be caught, but the odds in your favour are 20 to 1, and only mugs get caught”.

39 McGuire (1969) – Matrix of communication  The channel – face to face, in a pleasant context  The receiver – recent failure – uses cognitive rehearsal – e.g. “sleep on it”  The destination.

40 Incentives  Primary food, drink, sex  Sensory boredom, seeking new experiences important at the beginning of a career and for person crimes  Monetary important for late in career, property crimes  Social increase in social contacts  Status/power built up from a series of successful crimes  Self-evaluative professional pride.

41 The target  propinquity (the targets being close to where the criminal lives)  payoff  vulnerability ability to defend  access to law enforcement policing, unlikely to be reported

42 The risk involved  detection  punishment  estimation of risk over-estimated by law-abiders

43 Skills and resources  skilled in physical attack, cracking safes

44 Opportunity to obtain same objective by legal means  relevant to acquisition stage,  those at performance stage combine legitimate and criminal activities

45 Criminogenic factors  Alcohol/drugs, possession of firearms, factors that increased the likelihood of a criminal act. Override rational thinking  Drugs, need to steal to pay for drugs.  Alcohol, this inhibits behaviour. More confident but less capable. Higher crime but also higher chances of being caught. Also increases helplessness in potential victims. Cohen et al (1956), bus drivers more optimistic about driving buses through small gap but were less successful.

46 Cognitive consequences and distortions.  It is central to much of social psychology that people try to maintain cognitive consistency between their attitudes and their actions, and that they experience a subjective sense of discomfort when there is inconsistency. It is easier to resolve this by changing one’s cognitions than one’s behaviour (Berkowitz 1969).

47 Moral justification.  This operates on the nature of the behaviour itself. “What is culpable can be made honourable through cognitive restructuring... reprehensible conduct is made personally and socially acceptable by portraying it in the service of moral ends” (Bandura 1986, p. 376). As an example, Bandura points to military training: people who have been taught to deplore killing as immoral can be transformed rapidly into skilled combatants. In the criminological context moral justification is likely to be associated with political crimes.

48 Attribution of blame.  Offenders seek to exonerate themselves by attributing the blame for their actions to the victim.  The most obvious example is that of rape — a claim that in the past was frequently accepted by the courts.  It will be found also in other person crimes and to some extent in property crimes.

49 The end


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