Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

Labelling Theory’

Attribution Theory

Updated: 17 June 2016 According to Fritz Heider (1958), we produce attributions (beliefs about the causes of behaviour) based on two sources of information… Internal attributions – based on something within the individual whose behaviour is being observed – their natural character External attributions – based on something external to that individual – nothing to do with who they are specifically, it is the situation they are in Internal attributions are often referred to as dispositional attributions while external attributions are called situational attributions. Internal or External Locus of Control? In his development of Attribution Theory, Heider was concerned primarily with how we understand the behaviour of others. The mechanisms for how we attribute the behaviour of others have been explored with varying degrees of success in Correspondent Inference Theory, Covariation Theory and Causal Schemata. However, Julian B Rotter (1966) focused on how people attribute the reasons for their own behaviour. From his research, Rotter concluded that people tend to have either:- internal locus of control – ie: they decide what to do – the root of their behaviour is dispositional external locus of control – ie: their behaviour is shaped by external, situational factors – eg: expectations Rotter found that,… Read More

Biological Factors in Crime

Updated: 7 December 2016 Are criminals born or ‘made’? This is a question which has vexed philosophers for millennia and psychologists and sociologists since the dawn of the behavioural sciences early in the 19th Century. The deterministic view offered by biological explanations for criminality – ie: you have no real choice, it’s in your biological make-up – have major implications for how society treats criminals – especially violent ones.  Biological theories assert criminal behaviour has a physiological origin, with the implication that the ‘criminal’, therefore, has difficulty not committing crime because it is ‘natural’ –  ie: the ‘born criminal’ concept. Biological determinism can be used to undermine the legal concept of criminal responsibility: criminals are held to be personally and morally accountable for their actions. Only when the Law of Diminished Responsibility is applied in cases of self-defence and mental illness – and in some countries (eg: France) ‘crimes of passion’ (temporary insanity) – is the defendant assumed not to have acted from their own free will. 3 cases illustrate how biological arguments have been used as mitigating factors to reduce the level of criminal responsibility:- In 1994 Stephen Mobley was sentenced to death for shooting dead the manager of an American branch of Domino’s Pizza. He was also found… Read More

Crime & Deviance – the Difference

12 June 2020 Crime can be defined as the form of deviance that involves an infraction of the criminal law and is subject to official punishment. Not all laws are criminal – civil law and constitutional law are 2 other key areas of the law. Not all illegal acts are necessarily deviant – eg: in the UK it is illegal to use your mobile phone (without it being handsfree) while driving but the sheer number of people who do so suggests that they do not see that behaviour as deviant. Sociologists have suggested 2 distinct definitions of deviance: normative and relativistic. Deviance: the Normative Definition This definition can be summed up as ‘the violation of social norms’. Thus, deviance is culturally determined. Deviance is often thought of in terms of deviation from accepted social standards – eg: certain kinds of sexual behaviour or drug use. However, people who are mentally ill are often treated as deviants. (See What is Mental Illness? ) Even harmless eccentrics may be considered deviant – or, according to Erich Goode (2008), people who have been heavily tattooed or pierced. In some cultures, deviation from a strict political and/or religious orthodoxy is considered deviant and may invoke penalties under… Read More

Symbolic Interactionism

Updated:  19 May 2017 Symbolic Interactionism is an Interactionist approach in Sociology – although it also has a strong influence in Social Psychology, particularly in the use of phenomenonology to exolore the unique experience of the individual. It contrasts with approaches like Marxism and Functionalism which seem to suggest that people are like puppets controlled by the relations of  production or the pattern variables,  Rather than people slotting into their respective slots in the structure of society, Interactionism sees ‘society’ as being created by people actively working at relationships and thus morphing and changing as the dynamics of those relationships morph and change. Symbolic Interactionism is about creating and responding to symbols and ideas (memes). It is this dynamic that forms the basis of Interactionists’ studies. Sociological areas that have been particularly influenced by Symbolic Interactionism include the sociology of emotions, the sociology of health and illness, deviance and crime, collective behaviour/social movements, and the sociology of sex. Interactionist concepts that have gained widespread usage include definition of the situation, emotion work, impression management, looking glass self and total institution. Symbolic Interactionism derived initially from the writings of George Herbert Mead (1934). He argued that people’s selves are social products –… Read More


Updated: 18 May 2017 Functionalism is a Structuralist theory – hence it is sometimes known as Structural Functionalism. It is a ‘top-down’ theory that focuses on society rather than the individuals within it. As such, it is a powerful concept for exploring the Lower Right in 4Q/8L and how it influences and is influenced by the Lower Left – structuration, in Anthony Giddens’ (1984) terms. In Functionalism society is the focus because the individual is produced by society – ‘social products’, as George Herbert Mead (1913) termed them. People are the product of all the social influences on them: their family, friends, educational and religious background, their experiences at work, in leisure, and their exposure to the media. All of these influences make them who and what they are and how they perceive themselves: the confluence of schemas in their selfplexes. In this view, people are born into society, play their role in it – like cogs on a wheel – and then die. However, the deaths of individuals do not mean the end of society. Society continues long after they are gone. According to Émile Durkheim (1893), beliefs and moral codes are passed on (memetically) from one generation to the next.… Read More