theory construction and evaluation in criminology l.
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Theory Construction and Evaluation in Criminology. 1.Importance of Theory 2.Theory Evaluation . What is Theory?. Theory is a set on interconnected statements or propositions that explain how two or more events or factors are related to one another. Example.

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theory construction and evaluation in criminology

Theory Construction and Evaluation in Criminology

1.Importance of Theory

2.Theory Evaluation

what is theory
What is Theory?
  • Theory is a set on interconnected statements or propositions that explain how two or more events or factors are related to one another
example
Example
  • Children who experienced harsh and inconsistent punishment are more likely to become deviant

Harsh

Inconsistent

Punishment

Violence

more complicated theory
More complicated theory

Isolation

Violence

Harsh

Inconsistent

Punishment

two ways to build a theory
Two ways to build a theory
  • Deductive Approach (theory, hypothesis, research design, observations, empirical generalizations, new theory)
  • Inductive Approach (research design, observations, empirical generalizations, new theory)
a model of the research process
A Model of the Research Process

THEORY

Deduction

FINDINGS

HYPOTHESIS

Analysis

Induction

Operationalization

DATA

GATHERING

RESEARCH

DESIGN

Measurement

quantitative qualitative
Hypothesis

Data are in the form of numbers from precise measurement

Theory is largely causal and deductive

Replication is possible

Analysis proceeds by using statistics, tables, or charts

No hypothesis

Data are in the form of words and images from observations, and transcripts

Theory noncausal and inductive

Replication is rare

Analysis proceeds by extracting themes or generalizations (although numbers are possible)

Quantitative Qualitative
examples
Examples
  • Physical abuse in childhood is associate to future violence
  • Is child neglect is also related to violence perpetration later in life
  • Survey of a group of incarcerated criminals about their childhood experiences
  • Theory about how the impact of child neglect is similar/different from child abuse in terms of its criminogenic effect
  • Field study of active burglars
  • Face-to-face interviews with burglars about the ways they select the targets
  • Theory about how a household can become a target for burglary
criteria for evaluating theory
Criteria for Evaluating Theory
  • Logical consistency
  • The scope
  • Parsimony
  • Testability
  • Empirical validity
  • Usefulness and Policy implications
logical consistency
Logical consistency
  • Propositions of a theory have to be logically stated and internally consistent
the scope
The Scope
  • The Scope of a theory refers to the range of phenomena which it proposes to explain
  • A theory that accounts only for the crime of check forgery may be accurate, but it is obviously very limited in scope
  • Gottfredson and Hirschi posit that both imprudent and criminal behaviors can be predicted by a common characteristic: lack of self-control
parsimony
Parsimony
  • Parsimony (simplicity of theory’s structure)
  • The theory based on fewest assumptions and requiring the fewest propositions is considered the superior theory
differential association theory is based upon these nine postulates
Differential Association Theory is based upon these nine postulates:

1. Criminal behavior is learned

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

3. The principal part of the learning of criminal behavior occurs within intimate personal groups

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

differential association is based upon these nine postulates
Differential Association is based upon these nine postulates:

6.A person becomes delinquent because of an excess of definitions favorable to violation of law over definitions unfavorable to violation of the law

7. Differential associations may vary in frequency, duration, priority, and intensity

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

testability
Testability
  • Testability by objective and repeatable evidence (theory which are untestable are not scientific)
untestable theories
Untestable theories
  • Propositions are open-ended so that any contradictory empirical evidence can be interpreted or re-interpreted to support the theory
  • A theory may propose that males who robe banks are motivated by an unconscious impulse to resolve their guilt over their childhood sexual attraction toward their mothers
untestable theories17
Untestable theories
  • If we find enough bank robbers who fit this description, then the theory is supported
  • If research uncover that bank robbers claim their only motive is money then that does not mean that the theory is rejected
  • Denial of these feeling by robbers supports the theory, because the same unconscious impulse that motivated them to rob also rendered them unconscious of their true motivation
untestable theories18
Untestable Theories
  • A theory may also be untestable because its concepts are not measurable by observable events
  • If a theory proposes that people commit crimes because they are obsessed by invisible demons, there is no way to prove it
  • Imitation in social learning theory is observable thing
empirical validity
Empirical validity
  • Empirical validity means that a theory has been supported by research evidence
  • None of the theories is found to be entirely true or false
  • The questions is, what degree of empirical support does the theory have (weak or strong)
usefulness and policy implications
Usefulness and Policy implications
  • Every criminological theory implies a therapy or policy
  • The better the theory explain the problem, the better it is able to guide efforts to solve the problem