Profile of a Killer
Research a serial killer. Describe their childhood, education, employment, family life, etc. Then, using the theories of crime described in your textbook, choose which (there may be more than one) fits your particular serial killer. Why does that theory match? Your paper should be three (3) pages and should be written in APA format. Please use at least three (3) appropriate sources and cite those in your paper.
Profile of a Killer Research a serial killer. Describe their childhood, education, employment, family life, etc. Then, using the theories of crime described in your textbook, choose which (there may b
THEORIES OF CRIME ASEXPLANATIONS OF CRIMINAL BEHAVIORTheories of crime are as old as crime itself. Aristotle claimed that “poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.” But most ancient explanations of crime tooka religious tone; crime was either equivalent to or dueto sin, a view that was popular throughout the MiddleAges and lives on today in many religious beliefsystems.In the 17th century, Sir Francis Bacon argued that “opportunity makes a thief.” During the 1700s, philosophers and social critics such as Voltaire and Rousseau emphasized concepts such as free will, hedonism, and flaws in the social contract to explain criminal conduct. These principles ultimately grew into the classical school of criminology.The two leading proponents of classical criminol-ogy were the Italian intellectual Cesare Beccaria andthe British philosopher Jeremy Bentham, whobelieved that lawbreaking occurred when peoplefreely chose to behave wrongly when faced with achoice between right and wrong. People chose crime when they believed that the gains from crime outweighed the losses it entailed. Classical theoristswere interested in reforming the harsh administrationof justice in post-Renaissance Europe, and theybelieved that punishment of criminals should becommensurate with the crimes committed—thatpunishment should fit the crime.Classical theory influenced several principles of justice in Western societies (e.g., the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment ban against “cruel and unusual punishment”). It still exerts an important effect on modern correctional philosophy.Modern theories of crime developed from the positivist school of criminology. Rather than focusing on individuals’ free will, positivists emphasized factors that they believed determined criminal behavior. They sought to understand crime through the scientific method and the analysis of empirical data. Some stressed sociological factors, whereas others preferred biological, psychological, or environmental explanations.An early positivist was Adolphe Quetelet, a Belgian statistician who studied crime data and concluded that crime occurred more often in certain geographic areas and under specific social conditions.Cesare Lombroso (1876) and Raffaele Garofalo(1914), other theorists who relied on scientific data, emphasized the physical characteristics of criminals and proposed a strong biological predisposition to crime. Although the early positivists considered them-selves scientists, their methods were crude by currentstandards and led to conclusions that are not takenseriously today. Positivists believed that punishment should fit the criminal rather than the crime. This position foreshadowed rehabilitation as a correctional priority and the indeterminate sentence as a means for achieving it.Most modern theories of criminal behavior—including those of biology, genetics, psychology, sociology, economics, anthropology, and religion—are a legacy of the positivist tradition. The validity of these theories varies greatly. Most can account reasonablywell for certain types of crime, but none explains allforms of criminality—and some explain very few.Empirical data, rational analyses, moral values, and political ideologies all play a role in shaping preferences for the leading theories in criminology.For the most part, criminologists have concen-trated on those crimes that frighten the averagecitizen—violent acts (e.g., robbery, rape, assault, andmurder) or aggressive behavior against property (e.g.,burglary, theft, and arson). But many other kinds oflegally prohibited conduct—environmental plunder,price fixing, and business fraud, for example—cancause great damage to individuals and society. (Consider the securities fraud perpetrated by BernardMadoff, the hedge-fund trader and former chairman of the Nasdaq stock market, who may have plundered up to $50 billion of his client’s money.) However, these crimes are not the typical focus of criminologists, nor are they the kind of offenses considered by the general public when it debates the “crime problem.” Most theories of crime have focused on men.This may be reasonable, given that about three-quarters of all arrests are of men and that almost85% of violent crimes are committed by men. However, the factors that influence female criminality deserve attention, at least in part because crime by females has increased greatly in recent years. The rateof growth in the female inmate population has beensubstantial in the last two decades; between 1995 and2008, the number of women in state and federal pris-ons nationwide increased by 203% (Women in PrisonProject, 2009). Despite increases in violent criminal behavior, women are still most often arrested for larceny and theft. Such arrests often involve collaborating with a male partner. One implication of this pattern is that explanations of female crime need to carefully consider the role of coercion, especially as it is exerted in close relationships.There are four contemporary theories that attempt to explain criminal offending. We group these theories into four categories: sociological, biological, psychological, and social-psychological. There are important distinctions among these four approaches.Crime may appear to result from an individual’s experience with his or her environment. This belief isexplained throughsociological theories, whichmaintain that crime results from social or culturalforces that are external to any specific individual;exist prior to any criminal act; and emerge from social class, political, ecological, or physical structures affect-ing large groups of people (Nettler, 1974).Alternatively, criminal behavior may appear to result from an individual’s biological characteristics.Biological theories of crimestress genetic influ-ences, neuropsychological abnormalities, and bio-chemical irregularities. But as we shall see, there is little empirical evidence that either sociological or biological theories independently predict criminal behavior. Instead, current theories of crime incorporate a combination of environmental and biological factors to understand the causes of offending behaviors.Some psychological theories emphasize that crime results from personality attributes that are uniquely possessed, or possessed to a special degree, by the potential criminal. For example, some psychological approaches have focused on patterns of thinking—particularly with respect to recognized risk factors such as pro-criminal attitudes or certain kinds of personality disorders.Social-psychologicaltheories(or socialprocess theories; Nettler, 1974; Reid, 1976) bridgethe gap between the environmentalism of sociologyand the individualism of psychological or biological theories. Social-psychological theories propose thatcrime is learned, but they differ from sociologicaland psychological theories aboutwhatis learned andhowit is learned.Sociological Theories of CrimeSociological theories may be divided into structural and subcultural explanations. Structural theories emphasize that dysfunctional social arrangements(e.g., inadequate schooling, economic adversity, or community disorganization) thwart people’s efforts toward legitimate attainments and result in their breaking the law. Subcultural theories hold that crime originates when various groups of people endorse cultural values that clash with the dominant, conventional rules of society. In this view, crime is the product of a subculture’s deviation from the accepted norms that underlie the criminal law.Structural Explanations.A key concept of struc-tural approaches is that certain groups of people sufferfundamental inequalities in opportunities to achievethe goals valued by society. Differential opportunity, proposed by Cloward and Ohlin (1960) in their book Delinquency and Opportunity, is one example of a structural explanation of crime. This theory can be traced to Émile Durkheim’s ideas about the need to maintain moral bonds between individuals in society. Durkheim thought that life without moral or social obligations becomes intolerable and results in anomie, a feeling of normlessness that often precedes suicide and crime. One implication of anomie theory was that unlimited aspirations pressure individuals to deviate from social norms.According to Cloward and Ohlin (1960), people in lower socio-economic subcultures usually want to succeed through legal means, but society denies them legitimate opportunities to do so. For example, consider a person from Nicaragua who immigrates to the United States because of a sincere desire to make a better life for his family. He faces cultural and language differences, financial hardships, and limited access to the resources that are crucial for upward mobility. It remains more difficult for poor peopleto obtain an advanced education, despite advancesin the practice of need-blind admissions and tuitionadjustments based on need that are now offered bysome U.S. universities. In addition, crowding in large cities makes class distinctions more apparent.When legal means of goal achievement are blocked, intense frustration results and crime is more likely to ensue. Youthful crime, especially in gangs, is one outgrowth of this sequence. The theory of differential opportunity assumes that people who grow up in crowded, impoverished, deteriorating neighborhoods endorse conventional, middle-class goals (e.g., owning a home). Thus, crime is an illicit means to gain an understandable end.Consistent with this theory of differential opportunity, Gottfredson (1986) and Gordon (1986), a sociologist team, attempted to explain the higher crime rate of lower-class Black youth in terms of their poorer academic performance. Denied legitimate job opportunities because of low aptitude scores or grades, these youth discover that they can make several hundred dollars a week dealing crack cocaine.In fact, with the advent of crack cocaine, arrests of juveniles in New York City, Detroit, Washington, and other cities tripled in the mid-to-late 1980s.The theory of differential opportunity has several limitations (Lilly, Cullen, & Ball, 1989). First, a greatdeal of research indicates that seriously delinquentyouth display many differences from their law-abiding counterparts other than differing educationalopportunities, and they tend to show these differencesas early as the beginning of elementary school. Second, there is no evidence that lower-class youth find limited success in school to be more frustrating than do middle-class youngsters. On the contrary, the opposite is likely to be true. The assumption that lower-class juveniles typically aspire to membership in the middle class is also unproven. Furthermore, the major terms in theory, such as aspiration, frustration, and opportunity, are defined too vaguely; the theory does not explicitly explain what determines adaptation to blocked opportunities (Sheley,1985). Last and most apparent, some crimes arecommitted by people who have never been deniedopportunities; in fact, they may have basked in anabundance of good fortune. Think of Lindsay Lohan’stheft charges. Many other examples come readily tomind: the head of a local charity who pockets dona-tions for personal enrichment; the pharmacist whodeals drugs under the counter; and the ex-governorof Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, who was removed fromoffice, convicted, and sentenced to prison forattempting to sell the Senate seat vacated by PresidentObama. Indeed, think of many white-collar offenses motivated not by lack of opportunity but by the desire to expand substantial opportunities and resources even further.Subcultural Explanations.The subcultural version of sociological theory maintains that a conflict between norms held by different groups causes criminal behavior. This conflict arises when various groups endorse subcultural norms, pressuring their members to deviate from the norms underlying the criminal law (Nietzel, 1979). Gangs, for example, enforce behavioral norms about how to behave. For many youths, a gang replaces the young person’s parents as the main source of norms, even when parents attempt to instill their own values.This theme of cultural conflict is illustrated by Walter Miller’s theory of focal concerns. Miller explained the criminal activities of lower-class adolescent gangs as an attempt to achieve the ends valued in their culture through behaviors that appear best suited to obtain those ends. Thus, youth must adhere to the traditions of the lower class. What are these characteristics? Miller (1958) lists six basic values: trouble, toughness, smartness, excitement, fate, and autonomy. For example, lower-class boys pick fights to show their toughness, and they steal to demonstrate their shrewdness and daring (Sheley, 1985). However,the theory of focal concerns does not explain crime by individuals who are not socially disadvantaged,such as the rich hotel owner, the television evangelist,or the Wall Street swindler. In addition, key concepts, in theory, are vague.Like structural theories of crime, subcultural explanations have not demonstrated a strong theoretical or empirical basis. Questions remain: How do cultural standards originate? How are they transmitted from one generation to the next? How do they control the behavior of any one individual? The most trouble-some concept is the main one—subculture. Some critics reject the assumption that different socio-economic groups embrace radically different values.Biological Theories of crime biological theories of crime search for genetic vulnerabilities, neuropsychological abnormalities, or biochemical irregularities that predispose people to criminal behavior. These dispositions, biological theorists believe, are then translated into specific criminal behavior through environments and social interactions. Research on biological theories commonly focuses on twin and adoption studies to distinguish genetic from environmental factors.In twin studies, the researcher compares theconcordance rate(the percentage of pairs of twinssharing the behavior of interest) formonozygotictwins(identical twins) anddizygotic twins(com-monly called fraternal twins). If the monozygotic concordance rate is significantly higher, the investigator concludes that the behavior in question is genetically influenced because monozygotic twins are genetically identical, whereas dizygotic pairs share, on average, only 50% of their genetic material.In one study of 274 adult twin pairs, participants were asked to complete several questionnaires about past criminal behaviors, such as destroying property, fighting, carrying and using a weapon, and struggling with the police. Results reflected a finding of 50%heritability for such violent behaviors (Rushton,1996), suggesting that inherited tendencies may play a crucial role in causing crime. However, studies thatdistinguish between crimes against property and vio-lent crimes against persons have found that althoughheredity and environment play important roles inboth types of crime, the influence of heredity ishigher for aggressive types of antisocial behavior(e.g., assaults, robberies, and sexual offenses) than fornonaggressive crimes such as drug taking, shoplifting,and truancy (Eley, 1997).Adoption studies also support the contention that genetic factors play some role in the development of criminality. Cloninger, Sigvardsson, Bohman, and von Knorring (1982) studied the arrest records of adult males who had been adopted as children.They found that men whose biological parents had a criminal record were four times more likely to be criminals themselves (a prevalence rate of 12.1%) than adoptees who had no criminal background (2.9%)and twice as likely to be criminal as adoptees whose adoptive parents had a criminal history. conducted a review of several twin and adoption studies in this area and found similar results(Tehrani & Mednick, 2000).An interesting possibility regarding a biologicalcontributor to offending was first raised by a 1993study (Brunner, Nelen, Breakefield, Ropers, & vanOost, 1993). Studying individuals who had committed offenses, the investigators noted five participants who showed both borderline mental retardation and impaired control of impulsive aggression. These individuals each showed a complete absence of activity of a certain enzyme (monoamine oxidase type A, or MAO-A, which affects important neurotransmitters).This absence resulted from a mutation on the X chromosome in the gene coding for MAO-A.Without replication, this finding—involving a small number of affected individuals—would not have had implications for the broader scientific and legal fields (Appelbaum, 2005). A second study with a large cohort (1,037 individuals followed since birth in Dunedin, New Zealand) has replicated and extended these findings (Caspi et al., 2002). The investigators considered both the levels of MAO-A and the history of maltreatment between the ages of3 and 11. Using multiple measures of antisocial behavior, they reported that the 12% of their participants who had both low MAO-A and maltreatment accounted for 44% of the total convictions for violent offenses, with 85% of individuals with both lowMAO-A and maltreatment later showing some form of antisocial behavior., a third study(Stamps, Abeling, van Gennip, van Crachten, & Gur-ling, 2001) did not support the prospect that thisMAO-A gene mutation is a robust explanation for criminal offending—so this hypothesis has not yet been clearly supported by investigators in the field.Genetic and Biological Influences on Crime: Promising Possibilities.If genetic or biological factors do influence crime, the important question has always been, what influences what? There is a lengthy list of likely candidates (Brennan & Raine,1997), but five possibilities are emphasized:1.Low MAO-A in combination with a history of maltreatment. Further research is needed, particularly in light of the discussion above, but this initial finding may help to explain how a combination of an adverse experience (child maltreatment) and a biological risk factor (low MAO-A) could affectimpulsivity and propensity to antisocial behavior.2.Neuropsychological abnormalities. High rates of abnormal electroencephalogram (EEG) patterns have been reported in prison populations and in violent juvenile delinquents. These EEG irregularities may indicate neurological deficits that result in poor impulse control and impaired judgment. Studies of violent offenders have shown slow-wave EEG patterns indicating under arousal (Milstein, 1988). Although a high percentage of persons in the general population also have EEG abnormalities, rates of EEG abnormalities are somewhat higher in delinquent youth (Raine, Venables, & Williams, 1989) and impulsive adult offenders (Zukov, Ptacek, &Fischer, 2008).More promising results have been reported concerning abnormalities in four subcortical regions of the brain—the amygdala, hippocampus, thalamus, and midbrain—specifically in the right hemisphere of the brain, which has beenlinked to the experience of negative emotions. In one study (Raine, Meloy, & Buchshaum, 1998), brain scans of a group of homicide offenders showed that, compared with normal controls, the offenders experienced excessive activity in the four subcortical structures. Excessive subcortical activity may underlie a more aggressive temperament that could, in turn predispose an individual to violent behavior.A review of the neuropsychological literaturesupports a relationship between deficits in theprefrontal cortex, a region of the brain responsi-ble for planning, monitoring, and controllingbehavior, and antisocial behavior (see Raine,2002). Damage to the prefrontal cortex may predispose individuals to criminal behavior in one of several ways. Patients with impairment in this region of the brain have decreased reasoning abilities that may lead to impulsive decision-making in risky situations (Bechara, Damasio, Tranel, & Damasio, 1997). In addition, prefrontal impairment is associated with decreased levels of arousal, and individuals may engage in stimulation-seeking and antisocial behaviors to compensate for these arousal deficits (Raine, Lencz, Bihrle, Lacasse, & Colletti, 2000).Other lines of research suggest that impaired functioning in the prefrontal cortex contributes to aggressive behavior. Offenders, on average, have about an 8- to 10-point lower IQ (intelligence quotient) than nonoffenders, suggesting that offenders are less able to (1) postpone impulsive actions, (2) use effective problem-solving strategies (Lynam, Moffitt, & Stouthamer-Loeber,1993), and (3) achieve academic success in schools as a route to socially approved attainments(Binder, 1988).In one longitudinal study of 411 London boys, a low IQ at ages 8 through 10 was linked to persistent criminality and more convictions for violent crimes up to age 32 (Farrington, 1995).Low IQ is among the most stable of risk factors for conduct disorder and delinquency (Murray &Farrington, 2010). In a recent comparison of intelligence of juvenile offenders within different racial/ethnic groups (Black, Hispanic, and White; Trivedi, 2011), White violent offenders had lower Performance IQ scores than White non-violent offenders. Overall, however, gender, ethnicity, and lower IQ scores also seem to be related in a complex way, indicating the need for further investigation.3.Autonomic nervous system differences. The autonomic nervous system (ANS) carries information between the brain and all organs of the body.Because of these connections, emotions are associated with changes in the ANS. In fact, we can “see” the effects of emotional arousal on such ANS responses as heart rate, skin conductance, respiration, and blood pressure. Some offenders—particularly those whose offending is most chronic—are thought to differ from non-criminals in that they show chronically low levels of autonomic arousal and weaker physiological reactions to stimulation (Mednick & Christiansen,1977). These differences, which might also involve hormonal irregularities (see the next section), could cause this group of offenders to have (1) difficulty learning how to inhibit behavior likely to lead to punishment and (2) a high need for extra stimulation that they gratify through aggressive thrill-seeking. These difficulties are also considered an important predisposing factor by some social-psychological theorists, whom we discuss later.4.Physiological differences. A number of physiological factors might lead to increased aggressiveness and delinquency (Berman, 1997). Among the variables receiving continuing attention are(1) abnormally high levels of testosterone,(2) increased secretion of insulin, and (3) lower levels of serotonin (DiLalla & Gottesman, 1991).Research on the depleted or impaired action of serotonin has received considerable support as a factor underlying impulsive aggression (Booijet al., 2010).One study using animal models provides further support for the role of these physiological variables in aggressive behavior. Researchers found that rats with increased production of testosterone and lower levels of serotonin exhibited more aggressive behaviors; these rats displayed an increased number of attacks and inflicted a greater number of wounds on other rats compared to rats with lower testosterone and higher serotonin levels (Toot, Dunphy, Turner, & Ely, 2004).Such findings may be helpful in understanding the biological contributions to human aggression as well. Low levels of serotonin might be linked to aggressiveness and criminal conduct in any of several ways—for example, through greater impulsivity and irritability, impaired ability to regulate negative moods, excessive alcohol consumption, or hypersensitivity to provocative and threatening environmental cues (Berman, Tracy, & Coccaro, 1997).5.Personality and temperament differences. Some dimensions of personality are highly heritable and thus can be discussed within the scope of genetic influence on behavior. Some heritable dimensions are further related to antisocial behavior. Individuals with personalities marked by as under control, unfriendliness, irritability, low empathy, callous unemotionality, and a tendency to become easily frustrated are at greater risk for antisocial conduct (McLoughlin, Rucklidge, Grace, & McLean, 2010). We discuss some of these characteristics more fully in the next section on psychological theories of crime.Psychological Theories of CrimePsychological explanations of crime emphasize individual differences in the way people think or feel about their behavior. These differences, which can take the form of subtle variations or more extreme personality disturbances, might make some people more prone to criminal conduct by increasing their anger, weakening their attachments to others, or fueling their desire to take risks and seek thrills.Criminal Thinking Patterns.In a controversial theory spawned from their frustration with traditional criminological theories, Samuel Yochelsonand Stanton E. Samenow (Yochelson & Samenow,1976; Samenow, 1984) have proposed that criminals engage in a fundamentally different way of thinking than non-criminals. They wrote that the thinking of criminals, though internally logical and consistent, is erroneous and irresponsible. In short, consistent law-breakers see themselves and the world differently from the rest of us. and Samenowdescribed the criminals they studied as very much in control of their own actions, rather than being victims of the environment or being “sick.” They were portrayed as master manipulators who assigned the blame for their behavior to others. The development of this theory was based on intensive interviews with a small number of offenders, most of whom were incarcerated offenders or men who were hospitalized after having been acquitted of major crimes by reason of insanity. But no control groups of any sort were studied, and the theory itself has not been investigated in a systematic way. We do not know, therefore, how well it applies to most offenders.However, a much more systematic and scientifically valid approach to investigating the role of offender thinking has been undertaken by GlennWalters, who for many years served as a psychologist with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. He developed the Psychological Inventory of Criminal Thinking Styles(PICTS), an 80-item self-report inventory that measures cognitive patterns supportive of offend-ing. Data from both male and female offenders, as well as meta-analyses, reflect good psychometric properties (internal consistency, test-retest reliability), correlations with previous offending, and modest predictive capacity of future adjustment and release outcome (Walters, 2002). A similar measure (the measure of Offending Thinking Styles–Revised)was developed as well, also focusing on offender thinking styles and following a comparable pattern of appropriate scientific development and validation(Mandracchia & Morgan, 2011). approach, involving the appraisal of thinking styles and cognitive “errors” among offenders, has added significantly to our current ability to assess offender risk and rehabilitation needs.Personality-Based Explanations.Most of the influence of personality-based explanations for criminal offending in the last three decades has been provided by the construct of psychopathy, which is discussed in this section.,however, there have been a number of theories of personality that have been offered to help understand offending. These include Eysenck’s PEN theory(psychoticism, extroversion, and neuroticism; Eysenck & Gudjonsson, 1989); Costa and McCrae’sfive-factor model (Neuroticism, Extraversion, Open-ness to Experience, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness; McCrae & Costa, 1990); and Cloninger’sseven-factor temperament and character model(Novelty Seeking, Harm Avoidance, RewardDependence, Persistence, Self-directedness, Coopera-tiveness, and Self-transcendence; Cloninger, Dragan, &Przybeck, 1993). In some respects, these theories describe overlapping constructs. But which of those are important in understanding antisocial behavior?A meta-analytic review (Miller & Lynam, 2001)addressed precisely that question. Eight of these dimensions showed some moderate relationship to antisocial behavior. All eight dimensions were measures of either Agreeableness or Conscientiousness,two of the factors in the five-factor model. Thosewho were low on Agreeableness or low on Con-scientiousness were more likely to be involved inantisocial behavior. The other dimensions were less important—so it seems best to conclude that general personality theory has identified two domains (agree-ableness and conscientiousness) that are important in to understanding criminal offending.Psychopathy.Many individuals attribute crime to personality defects, typically in the form of theories that focus on the criminal’s basic antisocial or psychopathic nature. The concept of psychopathy has a long history. As we mentioned previously, this term refers to individuals who engage in frequent, repetitive criminal activity for which they feel little or no remorse. Such persons appear chronically deceitful and manipulative; they seem to have a nearly total lack of conscience that propels them into repeated conflict with society, often from a very early age.They are superficial, arrogant, and do not seem to learn from experience; they lack empathy and loyalty to individuals, groups, or society (Hare & Neumann,2008). Psychopaths are selfish, callous, and irresponsible; they tend to blame others or to offer plausible rationalizations for their behavior.The closest diagnostic label to psychopathy is an antisocial personality disorder. The two disorders are similar in their emphasis on chronic antisocial behavior, but they differ in the role of personal characteristics, which are important in psychopathy but are not among the diagnostic criteria for antisocial personality disorder. About 80% of psychopaths are men, and their acts sometimes are well-publicized (see Box 3.2). Psychopathy, as measured by the Hare PCL-R(Hare, 2003), has been well established as a risk factor for offending and for violent offending. Perhaps the best demonstration of this relationship comes from a meta-analysis on this topic (Leistico, Salekin,DeCoster, & Rogers, 2008). The authors integrated95 nonoverlapping studies (N= 15,826 participants)to summarize the relationship between the Hare Psychopathy Checklists and antisocial conduct. Theirresults indicated that higher PCL total scores and thescores on Factor 1 (describing interpersonal character-istics) and Factor 2 (describing chronic antisocialbehavior) were moderately associated with increasedantisocial conduct. These results depended on the setting from which the participants were drawn.Checklist scores were more strongly associated withoffending in the community than with serious mis-conduct in correctional facilities and secure hospitals.There are a multitude of theories about what causes psychopathic behavior. One view is thatpsychopathic persons suffer a cortical immaturitythat makes it difficult for them to inhibit behavior.Hare himself has proposed that psychopaths mayhave a deficiency in the left hemisphere of their brainsthat impairsexecutive function, the ability to planand regulate behavior carefully (Moffitt & Lynam,1994). Considerable research supports a strong relationship between antisocial behavior and impaired executive functioning (Morgan & Lilienfeld, 2000).Compared to normal controls, psychopaths expe-rience less anxiety subsequent to aversive stimulationand are relatively underaroused in the resting state aswell. This low autonomic arousal generates a highneed for stimulation. Consequently, the psychopathprefers novel situations and tends to pay less attentionto many stimuli, thereby being less influenced bythem.Herbert Quay (1965) advanced the stimulation-seeking theory, which claims that the thrill-seeking and disruptive behavior of the psychopath serve to increase sensory input and arousal to a more tolerable level. As a result of such thrill-seeking, the psychopathic person seems “immune” to many social cues that govern behavior. Eysenck (1964) proposeda theory that emphasizes the slower rate of classicalconditioning for persons classified as psychopaths.He argued that the development of a conscience depends on acquisition of classically conditioned fear and avoidance responses, and that psychopathic individuals’ conditioning deficiencies may account for their difficulties in normal socialization.Another popular explanation for psychopathyinvolves being raised in a dysfunctional family (Loeber& Stouthamer-Loeber, 1986). Arnold Buss (1966)identified two parental patterns that might foster psy-chopathy. The first is having parents who are cold anddistant. The child who imitates these parents develops an unfeeling, detached interpersonal style that conveys a superficial appearance of social involvement but lacks the empathy required for stable, satisfying relationships. The second pattern involves having parents who are inconsistent in their use of rewards and punishments, making it difficult for the child to imitate a stable role model and develop a consistent self-identity. A child in this situation learns to avoid blame and punishment but fails to learn the finer differences between appropriate and less appropriatebehavior. Children with callous-unemotional traits(a central aspect of the adult disorder of psychopathy)were significantly worse compared to those lower onthis dimension on stress management, frequency ofcriminal convictions among parents, and dysfunc-tional parenting, according to a recent review(McLoughlin, Rucklidge, Grace, & McLean, 2010).Limitations of Psychopathy in Explaining Offending.The major drawback of psychopathy as an explanationfor crime is that it describes only a small percentage ofoffenders. It might be tempting to classify most offendersas psychopaths and explain their offending with thatclassification. But most offenders are not psychopathic.One study found that only about 25% of a correctional sample could be classified as psychopathic, and this percentage was even smaller for women than for men(Salekin, Trobst, & Krioukova, 2001). This is generally consistent with other estimates in the literature.In addition, there is controversy about using thePCL and revised versions of the instrument as diagnostictools on which legal decisions are based. Although the PCL-R has an excellent inter-rater reliability when carried out in accordance with instructions (indicating that two raters using the PCL-R would tend to reach the same conclusion), a lack of training and possible biases on the part of the clinician may contribute to disparities in scores. Slight differences in scores may account for differences in courts’ dispositions of these cases.However, expert testimony invoking psychopathymay be quite influential. Evidence suggests that expert testimony about an offender’s psychopathy or psychopathic traits(the preferred term for adolescents showing features of psychopathy) is associated with an increase in severity of the court’s disposition (Zinger & Forth,1998), although other evidence with juveniles suggests that the “antisocial behavior” label has a stronger effect than “psychopathic traits” on the judgments of juvenile probation officers (Murrie, Cornell, & McCoy, 2005).Potential jurors were influenced in their decisions regarding juveniles by descriptions of antisocial behavior, psychopathic traits, and the colloquial use of the term psychopath(Boccaccini, Murrie, Clark, & Cornell, 2008).Furthermore, because the PCL is a self-report mea-sure, the administrator is subject to relying on inaccurateinformation. As a safeguard against potentially erroneousinformation, the administrator must have access to collateral information to compare with informationobtained from the examinee. Because the number ofjudicial decisions that rely on the PCL-R appears to beconsiderable, the ongoing training efforts for this mea-sure are particularly important.Yet another criticism of the use of these psychopa-thy assessment instruments in criminal proceedingsrevolves around their use in cases involving adolescentand female offenders. Although some evidence suggeststhat these instruments can be successfully used withfemale offenders (Salekin, Rogers, & Sewell, 1997;Vitale & Newman, 2001) and male adolescent offenders(Corrado, Vincent, Hart, & Cohen, 2004), moreresearch is needed. Nonetheless, it is fair to say thatthese psychopathy assessment tools offer a valuable wayof assessing personal characteristics and history that arerelated to criminal offending by some offenders. But there are other contributors as well, including social influences, to which we now turn.Social-Psychological Theories of CrimeSocial-psychological explanations view crime as beinglearned through social interaction. Sometimes called social-process theories in order to draw attention to the processes by which an individual becomes a criminal, social-psychological theories fall into two subcategories: control theories and direct learning theories.Control theoryassumes that people will behaveantisocially unless they learn, through a combinationof inner controls and external constraints on behavior,not to offend.Learning theory stresses how individuals directly acquire specific criminal behaviors through different forms of learning.Control Theories.Control theories assume that people will behave antisocially unless they are trained not to by others (Conger, 1980). Young people are bonded to society at several levels. They differ in (1)the degree to which they are affected by the opinions and expectations of others, (2) the payoffs they receive for conventional behavior, and (3) the extent to which they subscribe to the prevailing norms.Some people never form emotional bonds with significant others, so they never internalize necessary controls over antisocial behavior.Walter Reckless’s (1967)containment theory is an example of a control theory. Reckless proposed that it is largely external containment (i.e., social pressure and institutionalized rules) that controls crime. If a society is well integrated, has well-defined limits on behavior, encourages family discipline and supervision, and provides reinforcers for positive accomplishments, crime will be contained. But if these external controls weaken, control of crime must depend on internal restraints, mainly an individual’s conscience. Thus, a positive self-conceptbecomes a protective factor against delinquency.Strong inner containment involves the ability to tolerate frustration, be motivated by long-term goals, resist distractions, and find substitute satisfactions(Reckless, 1967).Containment theory is an “in-between” view, neither rigidly environmental nor entirely psychological. Containment accounts for the law-abiding individual in a high-crime environment. But this theory explains only a part of criminal behavior. It does not apply to crimes within groups that are organized around their commitment to deviant behavior.The British psychologist Hans Eysenck (1964)proposed a related version of containment theory in which “heredity plays an important, and possibly avital, part in predisposing a given individual to crime” (p. 55). Socialization practices then translatethese innate tendencies into criminal acts. Socializa-tion depends on two kinds of learning. First, operant learning explains how behavior is acquired and maintained by its consequences: Responses that are followed by rewards are strengthened, whereas responses followed by aversive events are weakened.Immediate consequences are more influential than delayed consequences., according to Eysenck (1964), in the real world, the effects of punishment are usually “long delayed, and uncertain[whereas] the acquisition of the desired object is immediate; therefore, although the acquisition and the pleasure derived from it may, on the whole, be less than the pain derived from the incarceration which ultimately follows, the time element very much favors the acquisition as compared with the deterrent effects of the incarceration” (p. 101). Because of punishment’s ineffectiveness, the restraint of antisocial behavior ultimately depends on a strong conscience, which develops through classical conditioning. Eysenck believed that conscience is conditioned through repeated, close pairings of a child’s undesirable behaviors with the prompt punishment of these behaviors. Conscience becomes an inner control that deters wrongdoing through the emotions of anxiety and guilt. Learning Theories.Learning theory focuses on howcriminal behavior is learned. According to EdwinH. In Sutherland’s (1947) differential association approach, criminal behavior requires socialization into a system of values conducive to violating the law; thus, the potential criminal develops definitions of behavior that make deviant conduct seem acceptable.If definitions of criminal acts as being acceptable are strong and frequent, then the person is more likely to commit crimes. It is not necessary to associate withcriminals directly to acquire these definitions. Children might learn pro-criminal definitions from watching their father pocket too much change or hearing their mother brag about exceeding the speed limit.Using the differential association approach, Sutherland and Cressey (1974) proposed various explanations of criminal behavior, including these:1. behavior is learned through interaction with other persons in a process ofcommunication.2. criminal behavior is learned; the learning includes (a) techniques of committing the crime, which is sometimes very complicated but at other times simple; and (b) the specific direction of motives, drives, rationalizations, and attitudes.3. a person becomes delinquent because of an excess of definitions favorable to violation of law over definitions unfavorable to violation of the law. Sutherland’s theory has been translated into the language of operant learning theory as developed by B. F. Skinner. According to differential association reinforcement theory(Akers, Krohn, Lanz-Kaduce, & Radosevich, 1996), criminal behavior is acquired through operant conditioning and modeling. A person behaves criminally when rein-forcement for such behavior is more frequent thanpunishment. Families, peer groups, and schools control most sources of reinforcement and punishment and expose people to many behavioral models(Akers et al., 1996). Differential association attempts to explain crime in places where it would not, on first blush, be expected (e.g., among law-breakers who grew up in affluent settings). But it has difficulty explaining impulsive violence, and it does not explain why certain individuals, even in the same family, have the different associations they do. Why are some people more likely than others to form criminal associations?Social Learning Theory.One answer comes from social learning theory.Social learning theory acknowledges the importance of differential reinforcement for developing new behaviors, but it assigns more importance to cognitive factors and to observational or vicarious learning. Its chief proponent, Albert Bandura (1986), claimed that “most human behavior is learned by observation through modeling” (p. 47). Learning through modeling is more efficient than learning through differential reinforcement. Complex behaviors such as speech and driving a car require models from which to learn. In all likelihood, so does crime. Observational learning depends on (1)attention to the important features of modeled behavior; (2)retention of these features in memory to guide later performance; (3)reproduction of the observed behaviors; and (4)reinforcement of performed behaviors, which determines whether they will be performed again.The most prominent attempt to apply social learning theory to criminal behavior is Bandura’s (1973) bookAggression: A Social Learning Analysis(see also Platt &Prout, 1987; Ribes-Inesta & Bandura, 1976). The theory emphasizes modeling of aggression in three socialcontexts.1.Familial influences. Familial aggression assumes many forms, from child abuse at one extreme to aggressive parental attitudes and language at the other. It is in the arena of discipline, however, where children are exposed most often to vividexamples of coercion and aggression as a pre-ferred style for resolving conflicts and assertingdesires.2.Subcultural influences. Some environments and subcultures provide context that supports aggression and an abundance of rewards for their most combative members. “The highest rates of aggressive behavior are found in environments where aggressive models abound and where aggressiveness is regarded as a highly valued attribute” (Bandura, 1976, p. 207).3.Symbolic models. The influence of symbolic models on aggression has been attributed to the mass media, particularly television. A large number of studies have investigated the effects of televised violence on viewers, especially children.A longitudinal study, conducted over a 15-year period, suggests that there are significant long-term effects from watching violent television in childhood (Huesmann, Moise-Titus, Podolski, & Eron, 2003).Results from this study revealed a significant relationship between watching violence on television as children and aggressive behavior in adulthood. This pattern held formale and female participants, although the types ofaggressive behavior differed. Males engaged in moreovert aggression (e.g., domestic violence, physical fights),whereas women engaged in more indirect aggression(e.g., traffic violations). Women who watched violent television as children were also four times more likely than other women to be victims of domestic violence.Furthermore, the study found that early exposure toviolence on television significantly predicted aggressionin adulthood regardless of the level of aggression theindividual displayed in childhood.Researchers also hypothesized that viewing televi-sion violence in childhood can lead to other potentiallyharmful effects. For instance, children may become desensitized to the effects of violence (e.g., may careless about others’ feelings) or experience a heightened fear of victimization. Children younger than 8 years old may be especially vulnerable to the effects of viewing violence because of their cognitive limitations in distinguishing fantasy and cartoon violence from reality. Of more recent interest is the question of whether movies and video games, which often feature much more graphic depictions of violence than those allowed on TV, exert stronger modeling effects on aggression. Wedescribe a relevant case in Box 3.3.Social learning theory also points to several environmental cues that increase antisocial behavior. These “instigators” signal when it might be rewarding to behave antisocially (rather than risky to do so). Oneinstigator models: observing others and modeling their behavior can influence some, particularly when they have been frustrated or see the aggression as justified.A second (related) instigator is prior aversive treatment.People often treat others the way they have been treated. A third is incentive inducements, which includes the anticipated rewards of misbehavior. Habitual offenders often overestimate their chances of succeeding in criminal acts and ignore the consequences of failing. A fourth is instructions, particularly from one in authority. Milgram’s (1963) famous study demonstrating wide-spread willingness to follow orders to inflict “pain” on another person is a good illustration. Although not a common feature of offending, this kind of influence may play a role in some hate crimes, in which the perpetrator believes he or she is doing the will of a religious or patriotic fanatic. A fifth is delusions and hallucinations:individuals occasionally respond aggressively to false beliefs or hallucinated commands that stem from severe mental illness. Finally, there is a strong, positive associa-tion between crime andalcohol or drug use, especially forviolent crime (Parker, 2004; Richardson & Budd, 2003).By depressing a person’s responsiveness to other cues that could inhibit impulsive or aggressive behavior,alcohol often leads to an increase in antisocial behavior even though it is not a stimulant. Drug use, by virtue ofits cost and deviant status, also acts as a catalyst to oramplifier of criminality, especially property crime.According to social learning theorists, peoplealso regulate their behavior through self-reinforcement.Individuals who derive pleasure, pride, revenge, or self-worth from an ability to harm or “con” others enjoy an almost sensual pleasure in the way criminal behavior “feels” (Katz, 1988). Conversely, people will discon-tinue conduct that results in self-criticism and self-contempt.People can also learn to exempt themselves from their own conscience after behaving antisocially. These tactics of “self-exoneration” assume many forms: minimizing the seriousness of one’s acts by pointing to more serious offenses by others, justifying aggression by appealing to higher values, displacing the responsibility for misbehavior onto a higher authority, blaming victims for their misfortune, diffusing responsibility for wrongdoing, dehumanizing victims so that they are stripped of sympathetic qualities, and underestimating the damage inflicted by one’s actions.The major strength of social learning theory is thatit explains how specific patterns of criminality are devel-oped by individual offenders. A second strength is that the theory applies to a wide range of crimes. The majorlimitation of social learning theory is that little empiricalevidence indicates that real-life crime is learned accord-ing to behavioral principles. Most of the data come fromlaboratory research where the experimental setting nul-lifies all the legal and social sanctions that actual offen-ders must risk incurring. A second problem is that the theory does not explain why some people fall prey to “bad” learning experiences and others resist them.Learning might be a necessary ingredient for criminality, but it is probably not a sufficient one. Individual differences in the way people respond to reinforcement need to be considered. The theory we review next does so.Multiple-Component Learning Theory.Some theoristshave integrated several learning processes into compre-hensive, learning-based explanations of criminality (e.g.,Feldman, 1977). The most influential and controversial multiple-component learning theory is James Q. Wilson and Richard Herrnstein’s (1985) book crime and human nature. Wilson and Herrnstein begin by observing that criminal and non-criminal behavior have both gains and losses. Gains from committing crime include revenge, excitement, and peer approval. Gains associated withnot committing crime include avoiding punishmentand having a clear conscience. Whether a crime is com-mitted depends, in part, on the net ratio of gains and losses for criminal and non-criminal behavior. If theratio for committing a crime exceeds the ratio for notcommitting it, the likelihood of the crime being com-mitted increases.Wilson and Herrnstein argued that several individual differences influence these ratios and determine whether an individual is likely to commit a crime. LikeEysenck, they proposed that individuals differ in the ease with which they learn to associate, through classical conditioning, negative emotions with misbehaviors and positive emotions with proper behaviors. These conditioned responses are the building blocks of a strong conscience that increases the gains associated with non-crime and augments the losses associated with crime.Another important factor is what Wilson andHerrnstein calledtime discounting. All reinforcers losestrength as they become more removed from a behavior,but people differ in their ability to delay gratification andobtain reinforcement from potential long-term gains.More impulsive persons have greater difficulty derivingbenefits from distant reinforcers. Time discounting isimportant for understanding crime because the gainsassociated with crime (e.g., revenge, money) accrueimmediately, whereas the losses from such behavior(e.g., punishment) occur later, if at all. Thus, for impul-sive persons, the ratio of gains to losses shifts in a direc-tion that favors criminal behavior.Another major component in Wilson and Herrnstein’s theory is a set of constitutional factors, including gender, intelligence, variations in physiological arousal, and the aforementioned impulsivity, all of which conspire to make some persons more attracted to wrongdoing and less deterred by the potential aversive consequences of crime.Of several social factors linked to criminal behavior,Wilson and Herrnstein believe that family influences andearly school experiences are the most important. Fami-lies that foster (1)attachmentof children to their parents;(2)longer time horizons, where children consider thedistant consequences of their behavior; and (3)strong con-sciencesabout misbehavior will go far in counteractingcriminal predispositions.Research on parenting practices and the quality ofthe parent–child relationship underscores the relevanceof familial interaction to childhood delinquency. Find-ings from a qualitative study with juvenile offenders andtheir parents revealed that their familial interactions werecharacterized by poor communication and high levelsof conflict between children and parents. These interactions were associated with children’s perceptions of a lack of parental concern and warmth (Madden-Derdich, Leonard, & Gunnell, 2002). In addition, an intergenerational study examining the effect of parenting styles and antisocial behavioral patterns across generations suggests that familial interactions have far-reaching implications; parental conflict and highly demanding, unresponsive parents were related to childhood behavioral problems in two successive generations (Smith & Farrington,2004).The remedies to these harmful patterns involvewarm supportiveness combined with consistent enforce-ment of clear rules for proper behavior. Unfortunately,individuals whose parents were demanding, unrespon-sive, and high in conflict are not likely to themselvesbecome parents who are warm, supportive, and consis-tent in their enforcement of rules. Therefore, many at-risk children face the double whammy of problematicpredispositions coupled with inadequate parental controland support.Biological factors interact with family problems andearly school experiences to further increase the risks ofpoorly controlled behavior. Not only are impulsive,poorly socialized children of lower intelligence moredirectly at risk for criminality, but their interactionswith cold, indifferent schools that do not facilitate edu-cational success can further discourage them fromembracing traditional social conformity. this part of the theory is a long line of research studies showing that children officially diagnosed with early conduct problems and/or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder face a heightened likelihood of becoming adult offenders (Slobogin & Fondacoro, 2011).Because they took hereditary and biological factorsseriously, Wilson and Herrnstein have come underheavy fire from critics who portray their theory as purelygenetic. It is not. Instead, it is a theory that restores psychological factors (some heritable, some not) and family interaction variables to a place of importance in criminology, which for decades was dominated by sociological concepts.Social Labeling Theory.The most extreme ver-sion of asocial-psychological theory of crimeisthesocial labelingperspective. Its emergence as an explanation reflects frustration about the inability of prior approaches to provide comprehensive explanations and a shift in emphasis from why people commit crimes to why some people are labeled “criminals” (Sheley, 1985).One illustration of social labeling is the allegation that police use racial profiling as is a basis for making a disproportionate number of traffic stops of minority motorists, particularly African Americans. This practice has often been justified by police as a tool for catching drug traffickers, but arresting motorists for “driving while black” as a pretext for additional criminal investigations clearly raises the risk of harmful and inappropriate labeling, to say nothing of its discriminatory impact. The outcry over racial profiling hasresulted in a call for federal legislation that wouldprohibit the practice and has led to litigation.The basic assumption of social labeling theory isthat deviance is created by the labels that societyassigns to certain acts. Deviance is not simply based on the quality of the act; rather, it stems also from an act’s consequences in the form of society’s official reactions to it. Social labeling theory makes a distinction between primary deviance, or the actual criminal behavior, and secondary deviance, or society’s reaction to the offensive conduct (Lemert,1951, 1972). With regard to primary deviance, offen-ders often rationalize their behavior as a temporarymistake, or they see it as part of a socially acceptablerole (Lilly et al., 1989). Whether or not that self-assessment is accurate, secondary deviance serves to brand them with a more permanent “criminal” stigma.The main point of thesocial labeling theoryisthat the stigma of being branded a deviant can create aself-fulfilling prophecy (Merton, 1968). Even those ex-convicts who seek an honest life in a law-abiding society are spurned by prospective employers and by their families and are labeled “ex-cons.” Frustrated in their efforts to make good, they may adopt this label and “live up to” its negative connotations by engaging in further lawbreaking (Irwin, 1970). Accordingto this perspective, the criminal justice system pro-duces much of the deviance it is intended tocorrect.The social labeling approach raises our awarenessabout the difficulties offenders face in returning tosociety. Moreover, it reminds us that some law-breakers (e.g., those who live in crime-ridden neighborhoods where the police patrol often) are more likely to be caught and “criminalized” than are others.But the social labeling approach does not explainmost criminal behavior. Nor is it favored as a serious explanation for criminal offending in the 21st century. Primary deviance (i.e., a law violation in the first place) usually has to occur before secondary deviance takes its toll, and many law-breakers develop a life of crime before ever being apprehended. Behavioraldifferences between people exist and persist, despitethe names we call them. WRIGHTSMAN’S PSYCHOLOGY and the LEGAL SYSTEM EIGHTH EDITION EDIE GREENE University of Colorado Colorado Springs KIRK HEILBRUN Drexel UniversityAustralia•Brazil•Japan•Korea•Mexico•Singapore•Spain•United Kingdom•United StatesCopyright 2012 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part. Due to electronic rights, some third party content may be suppressed from the eBook and/or eChapter(s). Editorial review has deemed that any suppressed content does not materially affect the overall learning experience. Cengage Learning reserves the right to remove additional content at any time if subsequent rights restrictions require it.
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