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Psychology and Crime. Psychoanalytic Theory/Psychoanalysis Cognitive Psychology Principles of Learning Personality and Crime IQ/Intelligence and Crime. Psychoanalytic Theory. ▪ Sigmund Freud ▪ 1856–1939 ▪ Psychic Determinism A CIGAR IS NEVER JUST A CIGAR.

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psychology and crime
Psychology and Crime
  • Psychoanalytic Theory/Psychoanalysis
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Principles of Learning
  • Personality and Crime
  • IQ/Intelligence and Crime
psychoanalytic theory
Psychoanalytic Theory

▪ Sigmund Freud

▪ 1856–1939

▪ Psychic Determinism

freudian elements of personality
Freudian Elements of Personality

▪ Conscious vs. Unconscious Mind

▪ Id: “If it feels good, do it!”

▪ Superego: conscience—“Stealing is wrong.”

▪ Ego: psychological thermostat that regulates the wishes of the id with the social restrictions of the superego

defense mechanisms
Defense Mechanisms

▪ Used to reduce anxiety

freudian explanations of delinquency
Freudian Explanations of Delinquency

▪ Overactive Id

▪ Delinquent Superego

▪ Delinquent Ego

  • Crimes with “special meaning”
  • Translating psychoanalysis into rehabilitation?
    • Works for articulate adult neurotics who can talk out their problems…
policy implications of freudian theory
Policy Implications of Freudian Theory

▪ Drawbacks

▪ Almost impossible to test empirically (Cannot be directly observed and measured)

▪ Still maintains a place in psychology of criminal behavior

  • Many concepts from Freud used in modern theory
principles of learning
Principles of Learning

▪ Three types of learning

▪ Classical conditioning

▪ Operant conditioning

▪ Observational (vicarious) learning

principles of learning1
Principles of Learning

▪ Positive reinforcement: increases the target behavior by rewarding the individual

▪ Negative reinforcement: increases the target behavior by removing an unpleasant stimulus

▪ Punishment: reduces the odds of the target behavior being repeated

principles of learning2
Principles of Learning

▪ Delinquency tied to parents’ failure to effectively condition their children away from bad behavior

  • Inconsistent and harsh punishment (Glueck and Glueck).

▪ Effective parenting (monitoring, punishing, and reinforcing behavior)nondeliquent children (Patterson).

▪ Parental behaviors may have few effects on the child’s long-term development (Harris).

principles of learning3
Principles of Learning


observational learning
Observational Learning

▪ Albert Bandura (Bobo doll experiments): most human learning is not based on trial and error (operant conditioning).

▪ Effects on criminal behaviors are difficult to determine.

media and crime
Media and Crime

▪ Does media (TV and movies) influence aggression, violence, and criminal behavior?

▪ Conducive to role modeling

▪ Perpetrators not punished

▪ Targets of violence show little pain

▪ Few long-term negative consequences

  • Some evidence (but still debate)—reducing exposure may reduce aggression
policy implications of behaviorism
Policy Implications of Behaviorism

▪ Criminals can learn pro-social behaviors to replace criminal actions.

▪ Classical Conditioning  Aversion therapy

▪ Operant Conditioning Token economy

cognitive psychology
▪ Humans’ ability to engage in complex thoughts influences behavior.

▪ Cognitions (like behaviors) can be learned.

▪ Focus on:

▪ Cognitive structure (how people think)

▪ Cognitive content (what people think)

Cognitive Psychology
cognitive structure
Cognitive Structure

▪ Kohlberg's theory of moral reasoning: humans advance through predictable stages of moral reasoning

▪ Self-control

▪ Ability to empathize

▪ Ability to anticipate consequences

▪ Ability to control anger

kohlberg s stages of moral development 1 of 2
Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development(1 of 2)

▪ Stage 1

▪ Right is blindly obeying those with power and authority.

▪ Emphasis is on avoiding punishment.

▪ Interests of others are not considered.

▪ Stage 2

▪ Right is furthering one’s own interests.

▪ Interests of others are important only as a way to satisfy self-interests.

▪ Stage 3

▪ Moral reasoning is motivated by loyalties to others and a desire to live up to other’s standards.

kohlberg s stages of moral development 2 of 2
Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development (2 of 2)

▪ Stage 4

▪ Right is following the rules of society and maintaining important social institutions (e.g., family, community).

▪ Stage 5

▪ Moral decisions are made by weighing individual rights against legal principles and the common good.

▪ Stage 6

▪ Moral decisions are based on universal principles (e.g., human dignity, desire for justice).

▪ Principles are considered across different contexts and are independent of the law.

cognitive content
Cognitive Content

▪ Rationalizations or denials that support criminal behavior

▪ For example, a criminal thinks, “I’m not really hurting anyone.”

  • Extremely common for sex offenders

▪ Criminals are more likely to express such thoughts

  • Sociologists are often skeptical (time-ordering)

policy implications of cognitive psychology
Policy Implications of Cognitive Psychology

▪ Cognitive theory translates easily into practice.

  • Cognitive skills programs teach offenders cognitive skills like moral reasoning, anger management, or self-control.
  • Cognitive restructuring attempts to change the content of an individual’s thoughts.

▪ Combination cognitive-behavioral have track record of success

theory in action
Theory in Action

▪ Multisystematic therapy (MST)

▪ Creator Scott Henggeler and associates

▪ Reduces criminal behavior

▪ Comprehensive approach

▪ Targets many areas for change

▪ Uses many different techniques (not just cognitive-behavioral programs)

personality and crime
Personality and Crime

▪ Crime and delinquency related to the presence of some personality trait

▪ Personality trait: a characteristic of an individual that is stable over time and across different social circumstances

▪ Personality: the sum of personality traits that define a person

personality traits and crime 1 of 3
Personality Traits and Crime (1 of 3)

▪ A number of related traits combine to form super factors

▪ Several different models

▪ Five-factor model

▪ Tellegen’s personality model

▪ Recent studies use the Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire (MPQ)

personality traits and crime 2 of 3
Personality Traits and Crime (2 of 3)

▪ Personality dimensions in the MPQ

▪ Constraint

▪ Traditionalism

▪ Harm avoidance

▪ Control

▪ Negative emotionality

▪ Aggression

▪ Alienation

▪ Stress reaction

personality traits and crime 3 of 3
Personality Traits and Crime (3 of 3)

▪ Personality dimensions in the MPQ

▪ Positive emotionality

▪ Achievement

▪ Social potency

▪ Well-being

▪ Social closeness

criminal personality the psychopath
Criminal Personality:The Psychopath

▪ A distinct “criminal personality”

▪ One of the oldest concepts in criminology

antisocial personality disorder apd from dsm iv
Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD) from DSM-IV

1. Disregard for the rights of others. At least three of the following:

behaves in a way that is grounds for arrest, deceitful and manipulative, impulsive, aggressive, irresponsible, lack of remorse

2. Age 18 or older

3. A history of child conduct disorder

4. Antisocial behavior not a product of schizophrenic episode

psychopath is narrower concept
“Psychopath” is narrower concept
  • Hervey Cleckley’s (1957) The Mask of Sanity
  • Key features: Manipulative, Superficial charm, Above-average intelligence, Absence of psychotic symptoms, Absence of anxiety, Lack of remorse, Failure to learn from experience, Egocentric, Lack of emotional depth
  • Other Characteristics: Trivial Sex life, Unreliable, Failure to follow a life plan, Untruthful, Suicide attempts rarely genuine, Impulsive, Antisocial behavior
hare pcl
  • The Psychopathy Checklist
    • Interview
    • Measures different aspects of psychopathy (each scored on a 0-2 scale)
    • Has produced very interesting studies (difference between psychopath and non-psychopath inmates)
policy implications of personality theory
Policy Implications of Personality Theory

▪ Personality traits consistently predict delinquency and crime.

▪ Criticisms:

  • Personality traits are often portrayed as impossible to change (See, Psychopathy)
  • What causes personality traits?
intelligence and crime
Intelligence and Crime

▪ “Feeblemindedness” was once thought to be a cause of crime.

▪ What exactly is IQ and how does it relate to criminal behavior?

a brief history of intelligence testing
A Brief History of Intelligence Testing

▪ Binet started out like his peers: Measuring people’s skull size

  • Not much difference—worried about bias in the tests
  • Developed a “hodgepodge” of tests measure identify learning disabled children
    • Not meant to be a measuring device for intelligence in “normal” students
  • Translated to English, used to identify “morons” and “low grade defectives” as part of eugenics
iq and crime
IQ and Crime

▪ There is an IQ gap of 8–10 points between criminals and noncriminals, even when statistically controlled for race and social class.

▪ IQ is not a very strong indicator of criminal behavior.

  • But, it does consistently predict
iq and crime1
IQ and Crime

▪ Travis Hirschi and Michael Hindelang

▪ The Bell Curve

▪Direct effect

▪ Most criminologists find evidence of indirect effects

IQ  School, Peers, etc.  Crime


▪ Psychological theories  the individual

▪ Modern Theory


▪ Many psychological theories translate well into treatment programs.