Psychosocial Theories CHAPTER 9 CJ 450D Learning Goal Students will enter the dark and nefarious world of psychopathy and sociopathy to gain understanding and empathy for societys most notorious criminals. Actually, students will explore psychosocial theories
of criminal behavior which are more focused on individual differences in the propensity to commit crimes than in the environmental conditions that may push a person into committing a crime. Performance Objectives 1. Define intelligence and Flynn effect. 2. Explain the IQ/Crime connection. 3. Define and distinguish between temperament and personality.
4. List the major personality traits that are both positively and negatively associated with criminal behaviors. Performance Objectives 5. Know the difference between the autonomic nervous system and the reticular activating system. 6. List the three key concepts of Walters Lifestyle Theory. 7. Distinguish the difference between psychopathy and sociopathy.
8. Discuss various rehabilitative programs utilized under psychosocial theories. Introduction Early theories in the psychological tradition strongly emphasized two major traits contributing to criminal behavior that were known as the two great pillars of differential psychology. Intelligence which determines the ability to effectively calculate pleasure and pain
Temperament which makes some people impulsive and difficult to socialize Intelligence David Wechsler defined intelligence as the aggregate or global capacity of the individual to act purposefully, to think rationally, and to deal effectively with his or her environment. Are IQ tests culturally biased? NO According to BOTH the National Academy of Sciences
and the APA, no study designed to detect such bias has ever done so. Flynn Effect There is strong evidence that environment can effect IQ. In 2007, James Flynn did research that revealed that the average IQ has increased in all developed countries by about 3.1 points per decade from 1932 to 2000. Flynn claims that the direct genetic effect on IQ is only about 36% with the other 64% resulting from the indirect
effects of genes interacting with the environment. This gene/environment interplay results in a multiplier effect over time. The IQ / Crime Connection A number of reviews find a strong IQ/crime relationship. How non-offender IQ scores differ from Casual / low risk offenders = 1 point Serious persistent offenders = 17 points
A persons full scale IQ (FSIQ) is obtained by averaging the scores on the verbal (VIQ) and performance (PIQ) subscales. Criminal behavior may be underestimated if we rely solely on FSIQ rather than looking at VIQ and PIQ. The IQ / Crime Connection Most of us have VIQ and PIQ scores that are close to one another. Offenders consistently have significantly lower average
VIQ scores, but not lower PIQ scores, than non-offenders. VIQ>PIQ profiles appear to be a major predictor of prosocial behavior, especially among adults. The IQ / Crime Connection The most usual explanation for the IQ / Crime link is that IQ sets up a negative domino effect: Lower IQ = poor school performance Poor school performance = dropping out of school Dropping out = associating with delinquent peers
Delinquent peers = increased risk for criminality Performance measures such as GPA are probably better predictors of antisocial behavior than IQ. Low IQ alone cannot explain criminal behavior. Temperament & Personality Robert Agnews General Strain Theory taught us how a person copes with strain (their temperament) is what either insulates or exposes them to antisocial behavior.
Temperament is defined as as: An individual characteristic, identifiable as early as infancy, that constitutes a habitual mode of emotionally responding to stimuli. Temperament & Personality The following BIG 5 components of temperament make it easy or difficult for others to like us and get along with us. Mood (happy/sad)
Activity level (high/low) Sociability (introverted/extroverted) Reactivity (calm/excitable) Affect (warm/cold) Temperament & Personality Personality is an individuals set of relatively enduring and functionally integrated psychological characteristics that result from his or her temperament interacting with cultural and developmental experiences.
There are many components of personality which psychologists call traits. Some traits are associated with the probability of committing crime while some protect against such acts. Traits are not characteristics that some people possess and others do not; we all have traits. People differ only on the strength of these traits. Temperament & Personality Negative personality traits associated with criminality:
Impulsivity the tendency to act without giving much thought to the consequences. Negative emotionality the tendency to experience situations as aversive and to react to them with irritation and anger. Sensation seeking the active desire for novel, varied, and risky situations. Temperament & Personality Positive personality traits associated with criminality: Empathy the emotional and cognitive ability to understand
the feelings and distress of others as if they were your own. Altruism the motivation needed to take action to alleviate someones distress. Agreeableness the tendency to be friendly, considerate, courteous, helpful, and cooperative. Conscientiousness a primary trait composed of secondary traits such as well-organized, disciplined, scrupulous, responsible, and reliable. Conscience & Arousal
Arousal levels determine what we pay attention to, how strongly we pay attention, and the ease or difficulty of acquiring a conscience. A conscience is a complex mix of emotional and cognitive mechanisms acquired by internalizing the moral rules of our social group during socialization. People with strong consciences feel guilt, shame, stress, and anxiety when they violate, or contemplate violating, moral rules. A functioning conscience signals successful pro-socialization.
Conscience & Arousal Differences in the emotional component of conscience reflect variation in autonomic nervous system (ANS) arousal patterns (fight, flight, fornication). The ANS funnels messages from the environment to the various internal organs to keep the organism in a state of biological balance (homeostasis). Then ANS has two complimentary branches: The sympathetic system (arousing)
The parasympathetic system (calming) Conscience & Arousal Classical conditioning also influences ANS functioning. Is mostly passive (doesnt require the person to do anything) and visceral (that internal gut feeling we experience). Is a subconscious association between two paired stimuli. We have all been classically conditioned to respond at the gut level to neutral stimuli via their association with unconditional stimuli.
NEXT WEEK Chapter 10 Biosocial Approach es Conscience & Arousal It is these classical conditioning associations that develop
our gut level emotions of shame, guilt, and embarrassment that make up the emotional (feeling) framework of our consciences. People who have readily aroused ANS are easily socialized. Moral lessons stick because ANS arousal (butterflies in the stomach) is subjectively experienced as fear and anxiety. Conscience & Arousal People with relatively unresponsive ANS are difficult to
socialize because they experience little anxiety, fear, guilt, or shame when they offend, even when discovered and punished. Across a wide variety of subjects and settings it has been consistently found that antisocial individuals have relatively unresponsive ANS. Having knowledge of what is right and wrong without that knowledge being paired with emotional arousal is like this... knowing the words to a song, but not the music.
Cognitive Arousal Neurological arousal is regulated by the brains reticular activating system (RAS). The RAS is a little finger-sized bundle of brain cells situated at the top of the spinal cord. The RAS can be thought of as the brains filter system determining what incoming stimuli the higher
brain centers will pay attention to. Cognitive Arousal Some people possess an RAS that is highly sensitive to incoming stimuli (known as augmenters). Others possess an RAS that is unusually insensitive to incoming stimuli (known as reducers). When individuals are exposed to the same environmental situation, some are under-aroused while others are overaroused, both of which are uncomfortable.
Augmenters tend to have a hyperactive ANS while reducers have a hypoactive ANS. Cognitive Arousal Reducers continually seek to boost stimuli to more comfortable levels and require a high level of punishing stimuli before learning to avoid the behavior that leads to punishment. As a result, reducers are prone to criminal behavior.
Because chronic criminals tend to have lower levels of ANS arousal, they are less likely to show sweat responses to threatening questions (as detected through skin conductivity). Why is this important?!? Walters Lifestyle Theory Proposed by Glen Walters in 1990. Walters believes that criminal behavior is part of a general pattern of ones lifestyle characterized by: Irresponsibility
Impulsivity Self-indulgence Negative interpersonal relationships Chronic willingness to violate societys rules Walters Lifestyle Theory There are three (3) key concepts: Choice a criminal lifestyle is the result of choices criminals make within the limits established by our early and current biological / environmental conditions.
Conditions impulsivity and low IQ are the most important individual conditions; attachment to significant others is the most important environmental condition. Cognition the thinking errors people develop as a consequence of their conditions and choice patterns. Walters Lifestyle Theory Walters identified eight (8) major thinking errors: Mollification reducing or softening their criminality Cutoff discounting the suffering of victims
Entitlement establishing a sense of privilege Power orientation viewing the world in terms of weakness and strength Walters Lifestyle Theory Walters identified eight (8) major thinking errors: Sentimentality believing good deeds counteract criminality Super optimism overestimating ability to avoid future crime Cognitive indolence orientation to the present and concrete thinking
Discontinuity inability to integrate thinking patterns Walters Lifestyle Theory These thinking errors lead to four interrelated behavioral patterns that almost guarantee criminality: Rule breaking Interpersonal intrusiveness (unwanted intrusion into the lives of others) Self-indulgence Irresponsibility
Antisocial Personalities Psychopathy What is it? A psychological syndrome characterized by egocentricity, deceitfulness, manipulativeness, selfishness, and a lack of empathy, guilt, or remorse. A physiological syndrome characterized by the inability to tie social emotions and rational cognition together in the brain. The label most often applied to such people is antisocial personality disorder.
A pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood. (DSM V) Antisocial Personalities Psychopathy How do you measure it? Most widely used measurement tool is Hares Psychopathy Checklist Revised (PCL-R). Antisocial Personalities
Psychopathy How do you measure it? Most widely used measurement tool is Hares Psychopathy Checklist Revised (PCL-R). An official diagnosis requires a score of 30 or higher out of a possible 40 on the checklist. Offenders in general have an average PCL-R score of 22, while non-offenders score an average of 5. Hare stated, I can find no convincing evidence that psychopathy is the direct result of early social or environmental factors.
Antisocial Personalities Psychopathy One of the most consistent physiological findings about psychopaths is their greatly reduced ability to experience the social emotions of shame, guilt, and empathy. Hundreds of studies, using many different methods, also confirm that the defining characteristic of psychopaths is their inability to tie the brains cognitive and emotional networks together to form a conscience.
Antisocial Personalities Sociopathy Sociopaths differ from psychopaths in that their behavior can be traced to deviant learning histories interacting with deviant genetic predisposition. One of the biggest factors contributing to sociopathy is poor parenting. Families headed by single mothers with children fathered by different men were found to have children most at risk for antisocial behavior.
The rate of out-of-wedlock births is a strong predictor of the measure of violent crime (murder, rape, assault). Policy & Prevention Since crime prevention policies aimed at root causes have had little impact in the past, would it be wise to focus efforts on those already committing crimes rather than on the environmental conditions around them? Psychopaths are poor candidates for any form of
correctional intervention. Old age seems to be the only cure for this classification of offenders. Policy & Prevention Effective psychosocial-based correctional treatment Uses multiple treatment components Is structured Focuses on developing social, academic, and employment skills
Uses directive cognitive-behavioral counseling methods Provides substantial and meaningful contact between treatment personnel and offenders (therapeutic alliance). Policy & Prevention Under Walters Lifestyle Theory, correctional counselors / POs would directly confront and challenge an offenders destructive thinking errors. The task of the counselor / PO would be to guide the offender in reinterpreting their experiences in a way that
promotes self-awareness and growth. The key is to assist the offender in recognizing the vital link between the origins of their behavior and their current behavioral problems. Summary We can never take either the environment or the individual for granted because each one affects the other. The relationship between IQ and criminal behavior has always been contentious, but what is not in debate is that
when it comes to intelligence, ALL traits are necessarily the result of both genetics and environment. One of the most pervasive criticisms of psychological theories is that they focus on defective or abnormal personalities and there is always some risk in attaching a psychiatric label to individuals. Summary The use of hard measuring instruments (EEG, brain scans, etc.) to measure ANS and RAS arousal provides us with more
accurate predictions about future offending than simple paper and pencil methods. We must not forget that the influences of our arousal systems are strongly conditioned by the social environment. Predictions about human behavior are subject to false positives (predicting something will happen and it doesnt) and false negatives (predicting something wont happen and it does). NEXT WEEKFOR
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