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Social Learning Theories. Akers’ Social Learning Theory . Final Paper. This paper requires you to apply the criminological theories to your own experiences Using at least two theories , explain why you have or have not engaged in criminal behavior

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social learning theories

Social Learning Theories

Akers’ Social Learning Theory

final paper
Final Paper
  • This paper requires you to apply the criminological theories to your own experiences
  • Using at least two theories, explain why you have or have not engaged in criminal behavior
  • This paper requires you to use critical thinking skills to apply abstract theories to personal experience and to complete a critical self-analysis of your own behavior
final paper3
Final Paper
  • Papers should be 5 – 6 pages double-spaced, typed in 12 point font with 1-inch margins
  • Papers that do not meet these specifications will not be accepted and will be penalized as late until they conform to these guidelines
  • Your paper should be coherent and well-organized as well as grammatically sound (i.e. Proofread prior to handing your paper in!).
final paper4
Final Paper
  • If you do not feel comfortable revealing your behavior to me, choose someone you know very well and apply theories of crime to his or her (non) criminal behavior
  • Or, interview someone who has engaged in criminal behavior to figure out the source of his/her behavior
questions to address
Questions to address
  • Explain the theories in some detail
  • Why do people commit crime, according to these theories?
  • What factors are most important in predicting if someone will commit crime?
  • Using the theories of your choice, explain why you have or have not engaged in criminal behavior.
  • What factors led you to crime?
  • Relate these factors directly to the crime theories. In other words, use the terms of the theories to explain/describe the behavior
questions to address6
Questions to address
  • Evaluate how well these theories work based on your personal experience
  • Why did you cease your criminal activity or why have you continued?
  • Would the theories you picked predict this? Explain.
  • Given your personal characteristics (race, gender, class, etc.), why might you be more (or less) likely to engage in crime (in general) and in the particular type(s) of crime you have engaged in?
questions to address7
Questions to address
  • At minimum, engage the class readings as well as lecture material for this paper;
  • Be sure to properly cite these readings within your paper
  • If you do use materials not assigned in class (not required), be sure to appropriately cite these materials within the text as well as in a reference page!
  • Generally these guidelines follow the formatting guidelines of the American Psychological Association documented in Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 4th Edition)
  • Please consult the specific guidelines that are required by the publisher for the type of document you are producing
  • There are really two parts to a reference citation
  • First, there is the way you cite the item in the text when you are discussing it
  • Second, there is the way you list the complete reference in the reference section in the back of the paper
reference citations in the text
Reference citations in the text
  • "To be or not to be" (Shakespeare, 1660, p. 241)
  • Rogers (1994) compared reaction times...
  • Wasserstein, Zappulla, Rosen, Gerstman, and Rock (1994) [first time you cite in text]
  • Wasserstein et al. (1994) found [subsequent times you cite in text]
reference list in reference section
Reference List in Reference Section


  • Jones, T. (1940). My life on the road. New York: Doubleday.


  • Williams, A., & Wilson, J. (1962). New ways with chicken. New York: Harcourt.


  • Smith, J., Jones, J., & Williams, S. (1976). Common names. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
reference list in reference section12
Reference List in Reference Section


  • Oates, J.C. (1990a). Because it is bitter, and because it is my heart. New York: Dutton.
  • Oates, J.C. (1990b). Foxfire: Confessions of a girl gang. New York: Dutton.
reference list in reference section13
Reference List in Reference Section


  • Bloom, H. (Ed.). (1988). James Joyce's Dubliners. New York: Chelsea House.


  • Dostoevsky, F. (1964). Crime and punishment (J. Coulson Trans.). New York: Norton. (Original work published 1866)
reference list in reference section14
Reference List in Reference Section


  • O'Connor, M.F. (1975). Everything that rises must converge. In J.R. Knott, Jr. & C.R. Raeske (Eds.), Mirrors: An introduction to literature (2nd ed., pp. 58-67). San Francisco: Canfield.
reference list in reference section15
Reference List in Reference Section


  • Jones, W. (1970, August 14). Todays's kids. Newseek, 76, 10-15.


  • Howe, I. (1968, September). James Baldwin: At ease in apocalypse. Harper's, 237, 92-100.
reference list in reference section16
Reference List in Reference Section


  • Brody, J.E. (1976, October 10). Multiple cancers termed on increase. New York Times (national ed.). p. A37.


  • Barber, B.K. (1994). Cultural, family, and personal contexts of parent-adolescent conflict. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 56, 375-386.
reference list in reference section17
Reference List in Reference Section


  • U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (1980). Productivity. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government PrintingOffice.


  • Research and Training Center on Independent Living. (1993). Guidelines for reporting and writing about people with disabilities. (4th ed.) [Brochure]. Lawrence, KS: Author
main sources of crime data
Main sources of Crime data
  • The National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS)
  • Maintains one of the largest repositories of web sites devoted to criminal justice statistics.  NCJRS is one of the most extensive source of information on criminal justice in the world
main sources of crime data publications
Main sources of Crime data/publications
  •  Department of Justice
  • Office of Justice Programs
  • National Institute of Justice
  • Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)
  • Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)
  • Office of Victims of Crime (OVC)
  • Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)
social learning theory
Social Learning Theory
  • People learn to engage in crime, primarily through their association with others
  • People are reinforced for crime, they learn beliefs that are favorable to crime, and they are exposed to criminal models
  • As a consequence, they come to view crime as something that is desirable or at least justifiable in certain situations
how to play poker
How To Play Poker
  • Before you can win at poker, you need to learn how to play poker
  • There are a wide variety of games with different rules (and strategies)
  • There are even different betting structures (like Limit versus No Limit) and different game formats (like normal "ring" games versus tournaments)
generic assumptions
Generic Assumptions
  • All behavior is learned (that is not genetically programmed)
  • Including techniques, attitudes, drives, and rationalizations
generic assumptions25
Generic Assumptions
  • The learning of delinquent behavior occurs in small, informal group settings
  • The learning of delinquent behavior develops from collective experiences as well as from specific situational, current events
ronald akers central concepts of differential reinforcement theory
Ronald Akers: Central concepts of Differential Reinforcement Theory
  • Differential association (groups provide major social context for learning)
  • Definitions (attitudes/meanings)
  • Differential reinforcement (anticipated/actual rewards and punishments)
  • Imitation
main concepts
Main Concepts
  • Differential associationrefers to direct association and interaction with others who engage in certain kinds of behavior or express norms, values, and attitudes supportive of such behavior, as well as the indirect association and identification with more distant reference groups .
main concepts28
Main Concepts
  • Definitionsare one’s own orientations, rationalizations, justifications, excuses, and other attitudes that define the commission of an act as relatively more right or wrong, good or bad, desirable or undesirable, justified or unjustified, appropriate or inappropriate.
  • General Definitions - include religious, moral, and other conventional values and norms that are favorable to conforming behavior
  • Specific Definitions orient the person to particular acts. Thus, one may believe that stealing is bad, but stealing from bad people/drug dealers is O.K.
main concepts30
Main concepts
  • Differential Reinforcementrefers to the balance of anticipated or actual rewards and punishments that follow
  • Whether individuals will refrain from or commit a crime at any given time depends on the balance of past, present, and anticipated future rewards and punishments for their actions.
main concepts31
Main concepts
  • Imitation refers to the engagement in behavior after the direct or indirect (e.g. in media depictions) observation of similar behavior by others
  • Whether or not the behavior modeled by others will be imitated is affected by the characteristics of the models, the behavior observed, and the observed consequences of the behavior
white collar crime
White-collar crime
  • Introduced by Edwin H. Sutherland during his presidential address at the American Sociological Society Meeting in 1939
  • White-collar crime “may be defined approximately as a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation” (p. 9)
occupational crime
Occupational Crime
  • Occupational crime occurs when crimes are committed to promote personal interests
  • Crimes that fall into this category include altering books by accountants and overcharging or cheating clients by lawyers
sutherland s explanation
Sutherland’s explanation
  • College graduate without history of criminal behavior
  • High level aspirations/ambitions
  • Aren't in deviant peers groups, and aren't poor
  • They live well-ordered lives for the most part;
  • They are well respected at work and in community
  • Cheating clients by lawyers
  • New attitudes, drives, and rationalizations
sutherland s explanation35
Sutherland’s explanation
  • Many major corporations require their employees to lie, cheat, steal and betray customers, competitors, inspectors and other employees
  • If the company steals from customers; if the company violates pollution laws; if the company converts pension plans to corporate purpose, the moral base is lost and, being lost, renders the company fair game to the dis-enchanted employee
  •  Follow the group/ leave/outlier
differential association is based upon these nine postulates
Differential Association is based upon these nine postulates:
  • Criminal behavior is learned
  • Not inborn, nor predetermined.
  • Anyone can learn.

2. Criminal behavior is learned in interaction with others persons in a process of communication

  • Includes gestures.
  • Verbal interactions.
3. The principal part of the learning of criminal behavior occurs within intimate personal groups
  • Work environments
  • Peer networks
  • Media plays little role
4.When criminal behavior is learned, the learning includes techniques of committing the crime, which are sometimes very complicated, sometimes simple and the specific direction of motives, drives, rationalizations, and attitudes
5. The specific direction of motives and drives is learned from definitions of the legal codes as favorable or unfavorable to committing deviant acts
6. A person becomes delinquent because of an excess of definitions favorable to violation of law over definitions unfavorable to violation of the law
  • If DFC/DUC > 1.0,
  • DFC = weighted definitions

favorable to crime

  • DUC = weighted definitions

unfavorable to crime

definitions unfavorable to crime
Definitions Unfavorable to Crime
  • “Crime doesn’t pay.”
  • “Marijuana causes brain damage and leads to cocaine and heroin.”
  • “Turn the other cheek when insulted.”
  • “Always be a law abiding citizen and you’ll be respected.”
  • “Don’t drink and drive – you can hurt someone.”
  • “Don’t throw your life away by breaking the law!”
  • “Sinners will be damned for eternity.”
  • “Never rat on a fellow criminal or hold out on them.”
definitions favorable to crime
Definitions Favorable to Crime
  • “The Justice Department should be going after real criminals, not me!”
  • “It’s technically not sex if there isn’t penetration and if you don’t touch her!”
  • “I can drive after five beers, no problem.”
  • “If someone questions your manhood, you have to

stand up for yourself.”

7. Differential associations may vary in frequency, duration, priority, and intensity.
  • Priority - the age of children when first understand criminal behavior
  • Intensity - the level of prestige associated with a person or group
  • Frequency - number of contacts a person has with groups that condone criminal behavior
  • Duration - the length of time the relationship will last and so its influence over the persons behavior
8.The process of learning criminal behavior by association with criminal and anticriminal patterns involves all of the mechanisms that are involved in any other learning

9. While criminal behavior is an expression of general needs and values, it is not explained by those general needs and values, since non criminal behavior is an expression of the same needs and values

questions to think
Questions to think….
  • HOW the first criminal became a criminal?
  • What is the ratio between favorable vs unfavorable definitions must be for someone to become a criminal?