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Psychological Theories Of Crime

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Introduction

Psychological Theories of Crime. Cognitive, Developmental and Personality factors associated with criminality. This essay will attempt to critically evaluate the contribution made by Cognitive, Developmental and Personality theories to our understanding of criminal behaviour. One psychoanalytical theory proposed by Freud (1923) was that all people had three components to their personality. These components were ID, which is the impulsive component. EGO known to be the rational component and the SUPEREGO this is the moral component. The ID is the only component of the personality that is present from birth. Freud believed that the ID was the most powerful element of the personality. The ID operates on the pleasure principle, seeks immediate gratification and is not restrained by reality. If the needs of the ID are not satisfied immediately, the result is anxiety or tension. If you consider babies it is evident that they are not considerate of their parents' wishes. They have no care for time, whether their parents are sleeping, eating dinner, or bathing. They will cry when they require their needs to be met. When the ID wants something, nothing else is important. The EGO is the socialized part of the personality therefore it is based on the reality principle. ...read more.

Middle

The Extraversion - Introversion and the Neuroticism - Stability are independent personality dimensions. It is therefore possible for a person to have a different combination such as Neurotic and Extravert, Neurotic and Introvert, Stable and Extravert and Stable and Introvert. The person most likely to commit crime would be the Neurotic - Extravert. This is due to the neurotic side of the personality being emotional and they are more highly motivated to reduce tension by action. The Extravert side of the personality is more likely to take risks to boost their otherwise sluggish system. Eysenck's theory recognizes the importance of the effects that both biology and environment have in shaping all behavior including criminal. Zuckerman et al (1988) found that thrill seeking could be a reaction to an excitable Central Nervous System as opposed to Extravert personality, the findings by Zuckerman et al considered other biological factors as to why people seek excitement. Eysenck considered that the environment may affect the behavior of a person, but his experiments were mainly based on biology, this could be seen as being slightly biased as his results could be manipulated to suit his theory. ...read more.

Conclusion

This could then lead to crimes being committed to satisfy the needs of that person. If a person was to become fixated in stage three then they would do all they could to make others approve of them. Fixation in this stage could be a valuable explanation for gang related crimes. As each member is acting in a particular way to win approval from their peers and the 'gang leader'. Kohlberg's theory contributes greatly to our understanding of criminal behavior and the ways that people develop into criminals through dysfunctional thinking. However Kohlberg does not appear to consider that moral reasoning and moral thinking are different to moral behavior. Many people think about doing one thing but consequently do the opposite. Also Kohlberg's questionnaire that contained ten moral dilemmas did not consider that people may believe they will act in a certain way if they were put in a situation, but when they are put in the situation they may act altogether differently to how they believed they would. All of the theories mentioned in this essay can contribute to our understanding of criminality. Although they may have some faults and some may have more evidence to back up their theories, they are all as equally insightful and broaden the way society looks at criminal behavior. ...read more.

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