Upbringing; Turning to Crime (Forensic Psychology)

  • Created by: kate
  • Created on: 11-05-12 11:01


People around us influence our behaviour as much as we influence theirs. Therefore, when trying to understand why people turn to crime, we must consider the way our behaviour is shaped by our families, friends and life experiences. Also, when and where a person is brought up needs to be taken into account. According to the British Crime Survey, crime rates are higher in cities than rural areas and males are more likely than females to commit crime. 

Farrington & Juby  (The Social Psychology of the criminal) 

Context: Many would argue that the biggest influence on criminality is the family. If your family consists of criminals it is likely that uou will also become a criminal (social learning theory). However, this is a very deterministic explanation as it ignores individual differences (some people do manage to turn their lives around, and in reverse, some people from good law abinding families turn to crime). 

  • Aim: 1) To document the start, duration and end of offending behaviour, from childhood to adulthood in families.
    2)  To investigate the influence of life event; risk (single parents, financial troubles) and protective factors (good attendence, good finance) predicting offending and anti social behaviour, and the influence of family background.


  •  Design: A longitudinal survey. Lastest report on group, data gathered from interviews age 48 and search of criminal record.
  • Sample: 411 boys, born in 1953/4 (age 8/9), from the registers of 6 state schools in East London, predominantly white working class. 397 families involved. At the age of 48, 394 males still alive and 93% interviewed. 
  • Method: Interviews with children, their parents and questionnaires completed by their teachers and peer apraisals.At age 8, 10 and 14 tested in their schoool. Age 16, 18, 21 they were tested in a research office and at age 25 and 32 on their homes. Focus on criminal record. Searches carried out in central Criminal Record office in London, locate evidence of the convictions of the males and their parents and siblings.
  • Results: 1) Earlier reports from the Cambridge Study have confirmed the hypothesis that criminals are likely to have criminal relatives.
    2) 93% admitted to committing one type of offence at some stage in their lives.
    3) Offenders peaked at 17, closely followed by 18
    4) The earlier they committed the more they would reoffend.  

Sutherland (Social Theory - Nurture)
Context: In response to other theories criticisms of being too vague and not pinpointing how people become criminals, Sutherland came up with a more specific concept called differential association. This suggests that if people interact with others who support lawbreaking then they are more likely to do so themselves. This was seen in terms of four variants: frequency, duration, priority and intesntiy. This theory focuses on how become learn to become criminals but does not concern itself with why. Similar to the social learning theory; criminal behaviours are learned through exposure to criminal norms. Sutherlands theory can start to explan why


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