Describe competing criminological theories

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Danielle Somers

Report on the emergence and influence of positivist       criminology theory on crime                                    

My scenario is that I am an undergrad student asked to produce a report outlining the influence and emergence positivist criminology has on crime. I am going to critically analyse the positivist theory and how this relates to crime, also I will discuss the emergence of positivist criminology theory and introduce the main theorists within positivist criminology.

Criminology is the examination of scientific techniques to assess hypotheses and expand theories that elucidate the cause of crime and positions of crime. Criminological theory tends to be a very complicated matter. A number of schools of thought have been established and scientists, doctors and theologians have been theorizing for over five hundred years on what encourages crime in society today, ideas on theories of crime are continually changing. Several theories have been substituted by more contemporary methods and some act as early fundamentals for new recent ideas.

Behavioural learning theory 

It was a man called Hans Eysenck who based on the psychological concept of training wanted to build a general theory of criminal behaviour. The idea of human conscience is central to his theory which he believes to be a leaned reflex. He disputes that people are hereditarily gifted with specific learning skills that are learned by stimuli in the surroundings. It is said that people learn the rules of society through the development of a coincidence. This is obtained by learning what happens when you participate in particular activities.

Eysenck explains three different kinds of personality: extroversion – impulsiveness and sociability and which are fairly independent of each other – neuroticism and psychoticism. Each one takes a form of a continuum that ranges from high to low. Low extroversion is occasionally referred to as introversion. In the situation of neuroticism, someone with a relatively high score would be considered as neurotic and someone with a relatively low score would be considered stable. Scores are acquired by administration of a personality survey of which there are numerous versions. It is common to reduce the explanation of a person’s score, such as a high N (neuroticism), high E (extroversion), and high P (psychoticism).

Every type of personality has noticeable characteristics. A person with a score of a high E would be sociable, cheerful, positive, bright and spontaneous. A person with a high N would be fearful, worried, unstable and hypersensitive. Whereas those with low scores portray the opposite of these characteristics. Selfishness, enjoy isolation and showing no fear of danger are all related with psychoticism (Eydrnck 1970. Feldman 1977) notices a comparison between this portrayal of psychoticism and anti-social personality disorder.

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Hans and Sybil Eysenck (1970) carried out an experiment on 178 imprisoned young offenders on all three personality types. They found that 122 had reoffended and all of these scored considerably higher in relation to extraversion than others. Allsopp and Feldman (1975) carried out a self-report study and found an important and a good link between scores for E, N and P levels of anti-social behaviour between girls aged 11 to 15 years old. The greatest link was found in relation to psychoticism. Their study of schoolboys was carried out the next year, and that achieved comparable conclusions.  

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