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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

‘crime & deviance’

Biological Factors in Crime #2

PART 2 Hormones In 1980 Dan Olweus et al measured blood testosterone level in institutionalised delinquent and non-delinquent 16-year-old boys and assessed aggression using a questionnaire. High levels of self-reported physical and verbal aggression were associated with higher levels of testosterone – though the results were not statistically significant. It was also noted that those with higher levels of testosterone were likely to respond more vigorously in response to challenges from teachers and peers. John Archer (1991), in a meta-analysis of 5 studies covering 230 males, found a low positive correlation between testosterone and aggression. However, the type of participant and the form and measurement of aggression differed substantially between the studies. Angela Book, Katherine Starzyk & Vernon Quensy (2001), in a meta-analysis of 45 studies, found a mean correlation of 0.14 between testosterone and aggression – though John Archer, Nicola Graham-Kevan & Michelle Davies (2005) challenged Book, Starzyk & Quinsey’s findings on the grounds of methodological problems with the study which meant that a correlation of 0.08 was more appropriate.  James Dabbs et al (1987) measured salivary testosterone in 89 violent and non-violent criminals and found those with a history of primarily violent crime had the highest levels of testosterone whereas… Read More

SocioPsychological Factors in Crime #2

PART 2 Lower Class and Marxist Sub-Cultures Much research indicates there is a relationship between being in the lower classes and crime. Merton explores the relationship between poverty, consumerism and crime in Strain Theory. Daly & Wilson prefer to focus on the limited opportunities and limited life expectancy. Both locate their theories in lower class sub-cultures. Another lower-class sub-culture theorist is Albert Cohen (1955). Influenced both by Merton and the ethnographic ideas of the Chicago School of Sociology. he was especially interested in the fact that much offending behaviour was being simply done for the ‘thrill of the act’, rather than from economic motivations. (This is still evidenced today as, according to the Office of National Statistics (2020),  around a million offences of this type were committed in 2018-2019. Cohen does not share Merton’s emphasis on economic motivation and materialistic gain. Rather he sees deviance and crime as expressive.) According to Cohen, lower class boys strive to emulate middle class values and aspirations but lack the means to achieve success – leading to ‘status frustration’. Consequently these boys end up rejecting middle class values. Cohen (p119): “The delinquent sub-culture offers him status as against other children of whatever social level, but… Read More

Glossary D

Nos   A    B    C    D    E    F    G    H    I    J    K    L    M    N    O    P-Q    R    S     T     U    V    W    X-Y-Z Debrief: information provided for a participant at the end of a study by the researcher. During debriefing, the participants should be informed of the true aims of the study, if they have been deceived. Also participants should be able to raise any concerns they have and be given the right to withdraw data. Deeper Level: see Levels of Adaptation. Definition of the Situation: is a fundamental concept in Symbolic Interactionism advanced by the American sociologist William Thomas (1923). It is a kind of collective agreement between people on the characteristics of a situation, and from there, how to appropriately react and fit into it. Establishing a definition of the situation requires that the participants agree on both the frame of the interaction (its social context and expectations) and on their identities (the person they will treat each other as being for a given situation). Deindividuation: the loss of a sense of personal identity that can occur when, for example, in a crowd or when wearing the cap and neck-to-ankle distinctive uniform of an organisation.… Read More

Operant Conditioning

Relaunched: 3 May 2020 Unlike Classical Conditioning, which is based on association, Operant Conditioning is based on consequences. The basic principle is that behaviour which brings reward is likely to be repeated to gain the reward again, thus reinforcing the behaviour; on the other hand, behaviour which brings punishment is unlikely to be repeated, to avoid the punishment. Operant Conditioning has its roots in the ‘instrumental learning’ work of Edward Thorndike (1905). His Law of Effect stated positive effects (rewards) of some behaviours ‘stamped in’ those behaviour while negative effects (punishments) of other behaviours ‘stamped out’ those behaviours. Thorndike had developed his ideas from ‘puzzle box’ experiments, usually with cats. Typically he placed a hungry, young and active cat in a box from which it could only escape by pulling on a loop attached to a string. (In  later  studies Thorndike used buttons and levers.) To motivate the hungry cat to escape, Thorndike hung fish outside the puzzle box door. The cat initially scratched, clawed and miaowed, exploring all corners and openings  in the box and trying to squeeze out.  Eventually it clawed at the loop, causing the door to open and allowing the cat to get the fish. On successive… Read More

When BLUE fails, call for Clint!

Updated: 25 August 2016 For those of us who were raised in the 1960s and 1970s, Clint Eastwood was arguably the ultimate ‘big screen tough guy’. Never impossibly-muscled like the generation of ‘action men’ who came after him – the likes of Arnold Schwarzenneger and Sylvester Stallone – and rarely prone to the ridiculous levels of single-handed mass slaughter commonplace in their movies, Eastwood mostly played far more believable characters. And, because they were far more believable, Eastwood’s anti-heroes exuded a far greater sense of menace. Though Eastwood has long since moved on to become acclaimed as a director and filmmaker of quality, character-driven films with strong narratives, on the occasion this now rather-old actor gets his fists flailing, he is still believable as someone who would very willingly do you serious harm. Periodically there are still Eastwood seasons on TV, usually built around one or more outings of his 2 main anti-heroes, the mysterious ‘Man with No Name’ gunslinger and the homicidal maverick cop ‘Dirty Harry’. That Eastwood can still command a TV season of his films, when most of his contemporaries are forgotten by all but the most devoted, is testament to the enduring power of the myth Eastwood… Read More

What is Globalisation?

Relaunched: 13 December 2016 “Despite huge differences in distance, upbringing and social context, many of us now listen to the same music, read the same books and watch the same films and television. Youth in Soweto listen to LA rap; viewers in southern China’s Guandong province watch pirated tapes of Jackie Chan; Sri Lankan refugee kids in Toronto come home from school to settle down in front of Tamil movies rented from the local grocery store. Teenagers and their young siblings in almost every place on earth know Bart and Lisa Simpson. I can sit at my home computer downloading the latest comminqués from Mexico’s indigenous Zapatista rebels and out of the corner of my eye watch the World Cup live from Korea on the TV in the next room.” Peter Steven (2004, p16-17) is describing the communication aspect of globalisation. Alan Cochrane & Kathy Pain (2000) describe other aspects:- “Drugs, crime, sex, disease, people, ideas, images, news, information, entertainment, pollution, goods and money now all travel the globe. They are crossing national boundaries and connecting the world on an unprecedented scale and with previously unimaginable speed. The lives of ordinary people everywhere in the world seem increasingly to be shaped by events,… Read More

Underclass: the Excreta of Capitalism

Updated: 15 September 2016 Though records indicate there have always been a small minority of criminals and ‘wastrels’ who formed an ‘underclass’ at the bottom of whatever social stratification any society had at whatever stage in its history, it was Charles Murray (1989) who first identified this social class as an emerging and important factor in contemporary British society. Murray says of the term: “By ‘underclass’, I do not mean people who are merely poor, but people who are at the margins of society, unsocialised and often violent. The chronic criminal is part of the underclass, especially the violent chronic criminal. But so are parents who mean well but who cannot provide for themselves, who give nothing back to the neighbourhood, and whose children are the despair of the teachers who have to deal with them…. When I use the term ‘underclass’ I am indeed focusing on a certain type of poor person defined not by his condition – eg: long term unemployed – but by his deplorable behaviour in response to that condition – eg: unwilling to take jobs that are available to him.” Those long-term unemployed who fraudulently claim benefits while doing ‘black market’ jobs, the addict who deals… Read More

Social Change

Updated: 25 August 2020   Social change means some aspect of society, culture or sub-culture changes. The changes may be overt and dramatic and obvious to everyone or they may be more discreet and less obvious…until people come to a realisation society around them has already changed. An example of this is the attitude of the general public in the UK towards welfare and benefits. As Elizabeth Clery shows in the results of the 2012 British Social Attitudes survey (BSA)– see graphic left – there has been an increased perception that people on welfare are over-reliant on their benefits and that cutting benefits won’t harm too many people too badly. The following 2 years’ surveys  showed only the most marginal reversal (3%) of this trend (Sarah Alcock, 2015) and the election in 2015  of a Tory government determined to cut even more could be seen as voter approval of these strategies. This was actually a major attitudinal shift in a country that, for many years, had largely prided itself on a generous attitude to welfare. Yet these more subtle changes in public perception often only become news when surveys like the British Social Attitudes annual survey pick them up. How complex… Read More