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.
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. Research has been carried out in order to test for a correlation between different personality types and the types of crime. Hindelang and Weis (1972) discovered that with minor crimes, such as damaging property, speeding or being drunk in public – the order of offending was how they had expected: high E plus high N, high E and low N or low E and high N, then low E and low N. Although this was not to be the case with offences concerning robbery or violence.
Eysenck and Rust 1977 discovered that criminals associated with theft or violence had lower P scores and there was no variation for E scores. Several other studies have looked at the performance of the autonomic nervous system and those identified as having anti-social personality disorder. The amount of activity in the ANS is taken by measuring the conductivity of the skin (electro dermal reactivity) and the amount of cardiac reactivity. Hare and Jutari (1983) discovered that when a psychopathic person is resting their electro dermal reactivity, it is very low.
Hollin (1989) stated that a fast heart rate could be a sign that the psychopathic person is reducing their level of cortical arousal. Eysenck (1963) discovered that those identified with having an anti social personality disorder are mainly extrovert. This proposes the likely relevance of the behaviour. Extroverts are believed to be more complex to socialise because of the problems in learning. This may consequently relate to psychopaths and their problems could have physiological foundation.
If this is correct, then we may possibly believe that psychopaths will be very bad at learning to evade the bad stimuli relating to certain acts. Holli (1989) found that the results from such studies differ according to the kind of bad stimuli’s used. When weak performance was mixed with physical pain, psychopaths achieved poorer results than controls. Psychopaths were however, improved leaner’s when the outcome was a pecuniary punishment. Personality typing or offender profiling has been used a lot in recent years, especially in the USA to make it easier to identify types of criminals.
It is found to be most helpful in the finding of serial murderers. Serial murder is a recurring and rhythmic occurrence. The murdering takes place at a number of various times, often across several months or years. The murderers are generally violent and cruel, the victims are generally strangers. Most people would believe such murderers to be crazy. Holmes and De Burger (1989) dispute that such murderers do not experience any psychological illness, as in this type of situation there is naturally a motive of some sort. They explain four main types of serial killer.
Firstly is the visionary motive type, this is where the killer carries out a crime based on voices or images in their head. The murder is generally impulsive and shambolic and only acted upon in reaction to the voices. Secondly is the mission-oriented motive type, this is where the killer has an objective or aspiration to get rid of a specific type of person. These killers are generally not considered psychotic but have great motivation to resolve a certain dilemma. Thirdly is the hedonistic type who kills for their own satisfaction.
There are normally two sub types. The pleasure-oriented killer takes pleasure in the thrill of killing and does so for enjoyment. There is also the lust killer, who kills for a sexual intention, gaining enjoyment by exploiting others. Lastly is the dominance/power-orientated type, who is hard to differentiate from the lust or acts, although the sex is only a form of control over the victim. The victim is likely to be a stranger and the crime is generally organised, planned and brutal. Cognitive learning theory
The role of the environmental stimuli and overt behavioural reaction had been emphasised by the behavioural theorists. However this viewpoint did not give an explanation as to why people try to classify, understand and regularly change the information they learn. There was a growing acknowledgment that cognition could not be ignored anymore (Kendler 1985) Cognitive psychologists thought that when watching the reactions made by people to diverse stimuli, they could draw inferences concerning the nature of the internal cognitive procedures that create those reactions.
A number of the ideas and beliefs of cognitivism start in the work of Gestalt psychologists of Germany, Edward Tolman of the USA and Jean Piaget of Switzerland. Gestalt psychologists stated the significance of organisational methods in learning, perception and problem resolving and stated that people were inclined to systematize data in certain ways (Henle 1985). Tolman (1959) was a famous learning philosopher in the period of the behavioural movement but then acquired a firm cognitive outlook. Tolman was inspired by the Gestalt theorists and incorporated internal mental phenomena in his outlook of how learning works.
Piaget (1980) was a swizz psychologist and biologist well-known for creating a very powerful model of child growth and learning. Gabriel Tarde (1843-1904) stated that crime is merely a common learned behaviour. He disputed that criminals are average people who are brought up in an environment in which they discover crime is a way of living. His ‘Laws of imitation’ explained that a person is said to discover and gain knowledge through others information and ideas, the persons behaviour is said to pursue from those ideas.
Tardes first law suggests that individual’s copy the behaviour of another in relation to the amount of communication they have with one another, therefore imitation is the most common and alternates quickly in inner-city areas. His second law suggests that the lesser person or inferior in the group imitates the leader or the superior. He disputes that crimes such as drunkenness and manslaughter began as offenses carried out by royalty but had been copied or imitated by different social classes.
Furthermore, individuals in country or rural areas shortly imitated crimes that began in the city area. His third law proposes that modern fashions take the place of older ones, such as murder by knifes has been substituted for murder by fire arms. This is essential as it is an initial effort to explain criminal behaviour. The name ‘differential association’ was primarily used to describe communication patterns by which criminals were limited in their physical and social relations to relate with likeminded others.
It was at this period of its development that criminal behaviour where it was suggested that crime is an erudite activity, like any other. Edwin H. Sutherland 1947, disputed that it is the occurrence and reliability of contacts with precedents of criminality that decided the possibility that the person will participate in organised criminal behaviour. The fundamental reason of such behaviour is the existence of several ethnic groups with diverse beliefs, living in the same community that have created a state of different social structures.
Sutherland 1947 changed his theory to now dispute that criminal behaviour happens when people obtain enough sentiments in agreement to disobey the law to overshadow their association with non-criminal propensities. He disputed that at this level of justification, it was not needed to give reason why an individual has a certain association; this requires a complicated mix of social interactions and contacts that showed people to diverse associational ties.
Different association stays in complete dissimilarity to other psychological explanations; it maintains a leading sociological disagreement that the main groups to which individuals fit in have the biggest influence on them. This gained widespread acceptance as it was enough to clarify the occurrence of criminal behaviour. Burgess and Akers (1985) suggested that criminal behaviour may well be learned in non-social circumstances that are strengthening and through communication in which the behaviour of other individuals helps reinforce that behaviour.
Akers (1985) redrafted the theory to concentrate on four key ideas. Firstly, differential association is believed to be the most significant foundation of social learning. It relates to the precedents of communication with others that are the foundation of social learning either approving or non-approving of criminal behaviour. Although the circuitous influence of additional reference crowds for instance the media – it is their own behaviour. Secondly, definitions, which mirror significance that an individual relates to their own behaviour.
Thirdly, differential reinforcement relates to the definite consequences of a specific behaviour. It is suggested that individuals will do things they believe will outcome in rewards and will elude actions they believe will outcome in a penalty. Fourth, imitation, which includes watching what others are doing, whether they decide to imitate that behaviour will be dependent on the type of person being watched. The way that individual acts and the watched consequences of that behaviour for others. Akers at el, (1979) suggests that criminal behaviour is learned through a particular series of events.
Firstly, the differential association of the person with different people who have favourable meanings of criminal behaviour, they supply a model of criminal behaviour to be imitated and social reinforcements for that behaviour, differential reinforcements will decide if that individual will carry on with that behaviour. Akers (1992) disputes that the social learning procedure defines the relation between social structural surroundings and criminal behaviour. The modernisation procedure and social disorganisation, damage conditions and financial discrimination and have all been linked with the behaviour of criminals.