Digital Crime Theories – Choice theory and Social Process Theory

This paper discusses two theories: Choice theory and social process theory that a researcher can use to explain the cause of digital crime. Internet and computers, in general, play undoubtedly an essential role the current life situations making it significant to comprehend cybercrime dynamics and those people who become victimized because of it. Digital crime theories such as the ones highlighted in this paper explore the factors that motivate or encourage people to engage in different forms of digital crime as well as aberration from regular issues such as media piracy to extreme cases of digital crime like computer hacking (Taylor & Fritsch, 2014). Over the last two decades, there has been a rapid increase in computer connectivity, which has, in turn provided prospective cyber criminals with huge opportunity to explore various forms of digital crime. However, it is significant to note that, following an increase in internet and computer-based offences, theories with respect to digital crime concept.

With respect to choice theory, Erickson (2013) asserts that there are three main components, upon which this theory is based. The first component of choice theory is that some people prefer engaging in crimes believing that they would derive benefits from their actions. In most cases, they take time through a fundamental process of decision making before making such a determination. In the process of making such decisions, criminals usually consider the magnitude of the pain, which is the main cost of the act and make comparison with the expected benefits (excitement, thrill, or pleasure) after completing a successful criminal act. In the event that a criminal act contains more benefits than the cost, then the individual will proceed with criminal act. The second component is that a crime-specific focus is a significant requirement in this theory. This is essential for capturing peculiarities of various needs that have strong attachments to any criminal activities like digital crime. This also means that the context or situation of a criminal act gets more attention than the individual. Third, choice theory makes significant distinction between the actual criminal event and involvement in the crime. This distinction assists in identifying the kinds of decisions, which an individual makes prior to committing a criminal act (Erickson, 2013). In this case, criminal involvement implies the process considered by an individual in order to initiate his/her involvement in a certain crime and either continue or later on desist. However, in course in the course of making such decisions, an individual requires a significant level of information. Criminal event, on the other hand, implies the decision by an individual to proceed with a particular crime activity.

The second theory that researchers can use to explain the cause of digital crime is social process theory. This theory maintains position that crime occurs as a result of people having poor relationships with their peers, institutions and families with which they interact on a regular basis. According to Easttom and Taylor (2011), relationship with families is critical because it plays a huge role when it comes to making decisions about criminality. Positive relationships provide a desirable platform for an individual to experience success within the confines of the law. This, also, means formation of criminality results from the existence of poor or negative relationships. With respect to social process theory, individuals who believe that they cannot achieve realistic success in ways that the society accepts turn to committing crimes in pursuit of the success that everyone else in the society desires. In this case, elite individuals will consider engaging in digital crime as their quickest avenue to success.

An additional theory that a researcher could use to explain the cause of digital crime and non-digital crime is trait theory. This theory is based on the principle that criminals commit crimes (digital and non-digital) due to physical or mental defects. This theory considers both biological and psychological traits that can influence an individual to participate in crimes (Taylor & Fritsch, 2014). Primary and secondary prevention programs are examples of the public policies that have been developed with respect to trait theories. Primary prevention programs entail treatment of personal defects and issues in order to stop them from manifesting themselves through crime. On the other hand, secondary prevention program entail psychological therapy, which is essential for ensuring that people do not violate the laws.

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