Psychology and crime
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Psychology and crime. Areas of Psychology. Personality and crime Abnormal Psychology and Crime MMPI and the CPI Antisocial Personality Disorder Mental illness and Schizophrenia Intelligence and crime Learning disabilities. Psychological theories (con.). Attention deficit Disorder

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Areas of Psychology

  • Personality and crime

  • Abnormal Psychology and Crime

  • MMPI and the CPI

  • Antisocial Personality Disorder

  • Mental illness and Schizophrenia

  • Intelligence and crime

  • Learning disabilities

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Psychological theories (con.)

  • Attention deficit Disorder

  • Learning theory and crime

  • Moral development

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Personality and crime

  • Is there a criminal personality?

  • Personality: characteristics of an individual that predisposes one to act in certain ways in certain situations

  • Way one perceives, thinks about and relates to oneself and one’s environment

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Freud and crime

  • Freud the first to write about personality

  • Believed that behavior is influenced by unresolved conflicts in childhood

  • Superego

  • Ego

  • Id

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Freud (continued)

  • Crime would occur if:

  • Malfunctioning of the id (too much)

  • Weak ego

  • Underdeveloped superego (no conscience)

  • Or, overdeveloped superego (desire to be caught and punished)

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Freud (continued)

  • Contributions of Freud

  • Behavior is influenced by psychological processes, some of them unconscious

  • Early childhood experiences are important

  • Behavior can be treated by psychological means

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Freud (continued)

  • Criticisms

  • 1. cannot be disproven

  • 2. focuses on internal factors, excludes societal factors

  • 3. focuses on treatment rather than prevention

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Personality tests & criminality

  • A variety of personality tests have been given to prison inmates

  • Generally do not provide a consistent pattern, one “personality

  • California Psychological Inventory: they tend to score lower on Socialization and Conformity

  • Lower on empathy scales

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Common traits

  • Hyperactivity

  • Impulsivity

  • Aggression

  • Sensation seeking/risk taking

  • Extroversion

  • External locus of control

  • Inability to delay gratification

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Psychological tests

  • Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory

  • 550 item T-F screening device for psychiatric problems

  • Given to thousands of prisoners

  • No single pattern emerges

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Tests (continued)

  • Indicates more psychological problems than in the general population, i.e., Hypochondriasis, Depression, etc.

  • Most common pattern is that of the antisocial personality disorder (APD), with high scores on scale 4 (psychopathy) and 9 (mania)

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Antisocial Personality Disorder

  • Formerly known as psychopaths or sociopaths

  • Also conduct disorder (adolescents)

  • APD estimated at 3% in the general population, 20-25% of incarcerated prisoners

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Characteristics of APD

  • Failure to conform to social norms

  • Lie/cheat/steal

  • Exploit and manipulate others, use people

  • Lack of remorse

  • Absence of anxiety

  • Self-centered

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APD (continued)

  • Reckless

  • Impulsive

  • Aggressive

  • Superficially charming

  • Inconsistent work history

  • Financial irresponsibility

  • Irresponsible parenting

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APD (continued)

  • Sexually promiscuous

  • Poor judgment

  • Do not profit from past experience

  • Punishment is not effective

  • Causes unknown

  • Physiological basis?

  • Environment?

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Mental Illness: Schizophrenia

  • Thought disturbance

  • “flat” affect

  • Ambivalence

  • Autism (withdraw from others)

  • Unusual behavior

  • Episodes of psychosis (not in touch with reality: delusions and hallucinations

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Mental illness (continued)

  • Strikes 1% of the general population

  • More common in prisons

  • Most mentally ill individuals are not criminals

  • Most offenders are not mentally ill

  • However, there are some notable exceptions

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Schizophrenia (cont.)

  • Sirhan Sirhan

  • Charles Manson

  • David Berkowitz: Son of Sam

  • John Hinckley

  • Jeffrey Dahmer

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Intelligence and Criminality

  • Intelligence: capacity to act purposefully, think rationally and deal effectively with the environment

  • Culture-bound concept: skills necessary for success in a culture

  • Lombroso hypothesized that his criminals were “feebleminded”, but there were no measure of intelligence

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Intelligence (cont.)

  • Binet: first intelligence test

  • Used the concept of mental age: if the majority of children of a given age can complete a task, the task requires that mental age

  • He tested children, compared mental age to chronological age

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Intelligence (cont.)

  • Goddard used his tests on institutionalized populations such as prisoners in the early 20th century

  • Concluded that most prisoners were “feebleminded”

  • However, when the tests were tried in screening men for the draft in W.W.I, they came out feebleminded, too!

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Intelligence (cont)

  • Problem: MA does not change after mid-adolescence but chronological age does. Thus, using Binet’s test, everyone would become feebleminded

  • Goddard’s work was discredited

  • It was until until the 1970s that the issue of intelligence and crime was reconsidered by criminologists

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  • 10-15 point gap between offenders and non-offenders: 100 v. 87

  • Better than 10% of prisoners are MR, while the percentage in the general population is less than 3%

  • Is this because of social class differences between prisoners and the general population? (SES affects IQ scores)

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Intelligence (cont.)

  • Studies of nondelinquent and delinquent adolescents matched for age, social class and ethnic groups also find an IQ difference, although not as large

  • Lower IQ scores are associated with higher recidivism among offenders

  • Most of the differences are for Verbal IQ rather than Performance IQ

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  • Higher IQ, especially verbal, might mean that one understands consequences better and have better planning skills--protective factor

  • A lower verbal IQ might mean that the person is less likely to use “internal speech” and be more impulsive (and thus less likely to be deterred)

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  • The brighter might get arrested less often (although self-report studies still support a difference)

  • Higher verbal IQ is associated with better moral reasoning skills

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School problems hypothesis:

Low verbal IQ -- poor academic achievement -- frustration -- truancy and dropping out -- association with other dropouts, unemployment -- crime

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Learning Disabilities and crime

  • LD: academic achievement is not commensurate with IQ

  • Most common: reading problems

  • More common among males

  • Causes not clear--brain dysfunction? Problems at birth? Inherited?

  • More common among delinquents: 12% vs. 33%

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  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder

  • Attention deficit

  • Hyperactivity

  • Impulsivity and aggression

  • More common among criminals than in the general population

  • More common among males (6-10 x)

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  • Associated, although not exclusively, with low birth weight (5 lbs. or less) and/or prenatal malnutrition

  • Although ADHD gets better with age, 50% show residual signs in adulthood

  • 25% of APD had an ADHD diagnosis in childhood

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Explanations: LD & ADHD

  • Both tend to have more behavioral problems. Whether such problems are part of the disorders or a result of them, they are more at risk for behavior problems.

  • School hypothesis

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Learning theory & crime

  • Learning a relatively permanent change, due to experience, that can affect behavior

  • Human behavior is learned, and learned by:

  • classical conditioning

  • operant conditioning

  • Observational learning

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  • Criminal behavior can be attributed to faulty learning

  • Learned an inappropriate response

  • Never had the opportunity to learn an appropriate response

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Classical conditioning

  • UCS---------UCR

  • Food---------salivation

  • CS-----------CR

  • Bell (after paired with food) --salivation

  • Punishment--------pain, anxiety

  • Illegal behavior-----anxiety

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Classical conditioning

  • Classically conditioned anxiety results in avoidance conditioning

  • Hypothesis: APD lack anxiety because their ability to develop classically conditioned responses is impaired

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Operant conditioning

  • Learning involves consequences to responses

  • Responses resulting in favorable consequences become more likely

  • Responses resulting in unfavorable consequences become less likely

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Operant cond (cont)

  • Reinforcement: strengths response

  • Positive reinforcement: receive “reward” increases p of behavior

  • Negative reinforcement: remove a punishment when a response is made, will also increase the p of that response

  • Positive punishment: aversive, unpleasant, decreases p of behavior

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Operant (cont.)

  • Negative punishment: take away reward, remove positive

  • Generalization and discrimination

  • Schedules of reinforcement and extinction

  • Reinforcement, not punishment, is the way most behaviors are learned

  • Most powerful: love and approval

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  • An aversive stimulus that decreases the p of the behavior that precedes it

  • Factors affecting punishment

  • Immediate

  • Intense enough, but not excessive (excessive results in anger)

  • Consistent

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Punishment (cont)

  • Aimed at the misbehavior, not the person

  • Must provide positive reinforcement for alternative behaviors

  • Is the CJS going to be effective at punishing?

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Kohlberg & moral development

  • Developmental stages of moral development

  • Preconventional: moral reasoning in terms of reward and punishment

  • Conventional: moral reasoning in terms of following rules

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Moral reasoning (cont)

  • Postconventional: moral reasoning in terms of what is best for the majority, or determining which ethical principle is most important

  • Delinquents and criminals: Commonly at the preconventional level, some at the conventional level, few at the postconventional level