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1 Trait Theory (Biological and Psychological Theories of Crime) Trait Theory (Biological and Psychological Theories of Crime)

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Presentation on theme: "1 Trait Theory (Biological and Psychological Theories of Crime) Trait Theory (Biological and Psychological Theories of Crime)"— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Trait Theory (Biological and Psychological Theories of Crime) Trait Theory (Biological and Psychological Theories of Crime)

2 2 Biology, Psychology, and Crime Criminological Classifications Early Trait Theories (Foundations) Demise of Biological Explanations Contemporary Trait Theories 1. Causes for re-emergence 2. Core Principles 3. Subranches

3 3 Foundations of Biological Trait Theory Biological explanation of criminal behavior first became popular during the middle part of the 19th Century with the introduction of positivism. Early positivists included: Lombroso (belief in certain physical characteristics indicate a criminal nature) Ferri (belief in biological, social and organic factors as a cause of crime and delinquency) Sheldon (belief in body type)

4 4 Foundations of Trait Theories Lombroso DEVIATION IN HEAD SIZE AND SHAPE FROM TYPE COMMON TO RACE AND REGION FROM WHICH THE CRIMINAL CAME ASYMMETRY OF THE FACE EYE DEFECTS AND PECULIARITIES EXCESSIVE DIMENSIONS OF THE JAW AND CHEEK BONES EARS OF UNUSUAL SIZE, OR OCCASIONALLY VERY SMALL, OR STANDING OUT FROM THE HEAD AS DO THOSE OF THE CHIMPANZEE NOSE TWISTED, UPTURNED, OR FLATTENED IN THIEVES, OR AQUILINE OR BEAK-LIKE IN MURDERERS, OR WITH A TIP RISING LIKE A PEAK FROM SWOLLEN NOSTRILS. LIPS FLESHY, SWOLLEN, & PROTRUDING ABUNDANCE, VARIETY, AND PRECOCITY OF WRINKLES INVERSION OF SEX CHARACTERS IN THE PELVIC ORGANS EXCESSIVE LENGTH OF ARMS

5 5 Foundations of Trait Theory Sheldon The view that criminals have physical or mental traits that make them different or abnormal Somatotype (body-build) makes people susceptible to delinquent behavior Mesomorphs – muscular/athletic (aggression) Ectomorphs – tall/thin (intellectual) Endomorphs – heavy/slow (fences)

6 6 Sheldon (Somatotype Theory) EndomorphicEctomorphicMesomorphic

7 7 Methodology Testing Biophobia Debunking Early Positivist Theories The research of the earliest positivists (who were biologists) was plagued by poor: Lack of attention to sociological constructs

8 8 Foundations of Trait Theory Impact of Sociobiology Sociobiology reemerged in the 1970s Edmund O. Wilson Sociobiologists view the gene as the ultimate unit of human destiny Ensuring of survival reciprocal altruism

9 9 Contemporary Biological Perspectives Core Principles 1. Equipotentiality 2. Correlates 3. Operationalization Sub-branches 1. Biochemical 2. Neurophysiological 3. Genetics 4. Biosocial/Evolutionary

10 10 Crime, especially violence, is a function of diet, vitamin intake, hormonal imbalance, or food allergies. Crime, especially violence, is a function of diet, vitamin intake, hormonal imbalance, or food allergies. CAUSECAUSE Explains irrational violence. Shows how the environment interacts with personal traits to influence behavior. Explains irrational violence. Shows how the environment interacts with personal traits to influence behavior. STRENGTHSSTRENGTHS Biochemical Perspective

11 11 Criminals and delinquents often suffer brain impairment, as measured by the EEG, Attention deficit disorder and minimum brain dysfunction are related to antisocial behavior. Criminals and delinquents often suffer brain impairment, as measured by the EEG, Attention deficit disorder and minimum brain dysfunction are related to antisocial behavior. CAUSE Explains irrational violence. Shows how the environment interacts with personal traits to influence behavior. Explains irrational violence. Shows how the environment interacts with personal traits to influence behavior. STRENGTHS Neurophysiological Perspective

12 12 Criminal traits and predispositions are inherited. The criminality of parents can predict the delinquency of children. CAUSE Explains why only a small percentage of youth in a high-crime area become chronic offenders. STRENGTHS Genetic Perspective

13 13 As the human race evolved, traits and characteristics have become ingrained. Some of these make people aggressive and predisposed to commit crime. CAUSE Explains high violence rates and aggregate gender differences in the crime rate. STRENGTHS Evolutionary Perspective

14 14 Biological Trait Theories Evaluation of the Biological Branch of Trait Theory Critics charge biological theories are racist and dysfunctional Biological explanations do not account for geographical variations in crime Lack of empirical testing

15 15 Contemporary Psychological Perspectives Contemporary Psychological Perspectives Core Principles - Psychological Traits Matter - Learning Process (Imitation and Modeling) Operationalization Sub-branches - Controlling the Feebleminded - Psychodynamic/Freudian psychology - Cognitive - Behavioral - Social Learning

16 16 Psychological Trait Theories Defective intelligence Charles Goring Crime could be controlled by regulating reproduction of the feebleminded

17 17 Psychological Theory: Psychodynamic Perspective Major Premise….. The development of the unconscious personality early in childhood influence behavior for the rest of a person’s life. Criminals have weak egos and damaged personalities. Strengths…. Explains the onset of crime and why crime and drug abuse cut across class lines.

18 18 Psychological Trait Theories Psychodynamic: Freud  suggested people carry the residue of childhood attachments that guide future interpersonal relationships ID (pleasure principal): unconscious biological urges for food, sex and other life-sustaining necessities Ego (reality principal): helps guide the actions of the Id within boundaries of social convention Superego (conscience): the moral aspect of one’s personality

19 19 Psychological Trait Theories Psychodynamic: Freud (Cont.) Eros: The most basic drive present at birth Conflicts during psychosexual stages of development May lead to “fixations”

20 20 Psychological Trait Theories Psychodynamics of Abnormal Behavior Inferiority complex: Adler  People with a drive for superiority Bipolar disorder: Moods alternate between depression and elation Disruptive Behavior Disorder: DBD includes Oppositional Defiant Disorder ODD: Defiance toward authority figures Conduct Disorder: CD is more serious Viewed as severely anti-social

21 21 Psychological Trait Theories Crime and Mental Illness Personality disorders are referred to as psychosis Paranoid Schizophrenia: Delusions of wrongdoing and persecution Despite evidence of mental illness Recidivism among mentally disordered is less than the general population

22 22 Major Premise….. Individual reasoning processes influence behavior. Reasoning is influenced by the way people perceive their environment and by their moral and intellectual development. Strengths…. Shows why criminal behavior patterns change over time as people mature and develop their moral reasoning. May explain aging-out process. Psychological Theory: Cognitive Perspective

23 23 Psychological Trait Theories Cognitive Theory Focuses on  how people perceive and mentally represent the world around them and solve problems Moral development (6 stages): Jean Piaget People obey the law to avoid punishment Humanistic psychology: Self-awareness approach, getting in touch with feelings Information Processing: How people process, store, encode, retrieve, and manipulate information

24 24 Cognitive Theory cont’d Information Processing (3) Encode information Search for proper response and decide on next action Act on decision So, why do some folks commit crime and others do not? Scripts and use of cues can make a difference!

25 25 Psychological Theory: Behavioral Perspective Major Premise….. People commit crime when they model their behavior after others they see being rewarded for the same acts. Behavior is reinforced by rewards and extinguished by punishment. Strengths…. Explains the role of significant others in the crime process. Shows how family life and media can influence crime and violence.

26 26 Psychological Trait Theories Bobo Dolls Experiment Behavioral Theory Human actions are developed through learning experiences Social Learning Theory: People learn aggression through life experiences Violence is learned via behavior modeling Examples  family interactions, environmental experiences, and mass media An event that heightens arousal Aggressive skills Expected outcomes Consistency of behavior with values

27 27 Behavior and values become consistent Social Learning Theory Factors that help produce violence and aggression. Factors that help produce violence and aggression. Expected outcomes - rewards Learnedaggressiveskills An event that heightens arousal

28 28 Psychological Theories Summary (Concept summary 5.2) Psychodynamic, Behavioral, Cognitive Major Premise? Strengths? Research focus?

29 29 Psychological Traits and Characteristics Personality and Crime Personality: The reasonably stable patterns of behavior, thoughts, and emotions that distinguish one person from another. Research has identified personality traits Eysenck  extroversion/introversion and stability/instability scales

30 30 Psychological Traits and Characteristics Personality and Crime Antisocial personality (unique set of characteristics): Psychopath Sociopathy Antisocial persons suffering defects or aberrations Research on personality: Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)

31 31 Psychological Traits and Characteristics


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