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Theories of Crime in Psychology

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Outline and evaluate Theories of Crime - Essay 1 (25) There are many theories in the biological approach that explain crime. Lombroso suggests that criminals are a separate species between modern and primitive humans who had different physical defects which determined them a criminal such as a prominent jaw or a narrow sloping brow. Lombroso's theories as a whole, but especially when applied to criminals, encourage the worst prejudices or stereotyping and have caused much embarrassment to criminologists. There is no serious evidence in its support; Lombroso's own research was methodologically flawed. He didn't use proper control groups and the criminal samples he used were often mentally disturbed. However, his theory had some positive features, it was one of the first not to attribute criminal behaviour entirely to wickedness caused by a lack of will power and therefore it acknowledged that the causes of criminal behaviour cannot entirely be laid at the feet of the perpetrator. He is said to be the "Father of modern criminology" as his later theories encompass the three major strands - biology, environment and psychology. ...read more.


The psychodynamic approach can explain crime in terms of the 3 ways in which the super ego can lead to criminal behaviour. The superego can lead to criminal behaviour depending how it developed. The superego punishes the ego with anxiety when an immoral act is contemplated and with guilt if the act is carried out. A weak superego is developed as a result of abnormal relationships within the family which would result in a person acting in ways to gratify their id regardless or the social restraints on doing so. A deviant superego is developed during the phallic stage, their superego can develop deviant values if the same sex parent is deviant too for example a son may develop a deviant superego if his father is a criminal. A strong superego can leave a person feeling anxious and guilty since every time they act on the id's desires their superego would punish them for it. This could result in a person committing crimes in order to get caught and punished to eliminate the guilt imposed by their own superego. ...read more.


The behaviourist approach has theories which explain criminal behaviour such as Bandura's SLT theory of aggression as it suggests that behaviour of all kinds is learned through observation. If a model is observed acting aggressively, and is then rewarded then imitation is likely. If a model is punished, then imitation becomes less likely. To support this, his Bobo Doll study focused on Children's aggression after they observed an adult acting different ways towards a doll and the children were then allowed to play with the doll. However, because it was a lab experiment it doesn't predict that's how children would act in real life so it lacks ecological validity. Also, the children would've known that it wasn't a real person therefore any aggression towards the doll isn't applicable to humans. Although in support of Social Learning Theory, a natural experiment examined children's level of aggression before and after the introduction of television into an isolated community. It was found that over a 2 year period aggression in the community children had rose steadily whilst in a similar community where there was already television, there was no increase. ?? ?? ?? ?? Rachel Kinsella Psychology Essays ...read more.

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