Psychological Factors Linked to Criminal Behavior
There are several psychological factors that are linked to criminality, or criminal behavior, including personality, or neurophysiological makeup; abnormal psychological traits; and individual socialization (Barlow & Durand, 2006). Hans Eysenck developed the well-known theory linking crime and personality. He held that criminal conduct stems from interactions between particular environmental settings, or conditions, and certain nervous system, or personality, features. According to the theory he developed, some individuals are more genetically predisposed towards criminal, as well as antisocial, conducts than other individuals. Eysenck and his theory’s followers are convinced that every offender has a particular personality, or neurophysiological makeup, which can interact with particular environments to give rise to criminality (Eysenck & Gudjonsson, 1989).
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Trait theorists, including Cesare Lombroso, hold that unusual psychological traits give rise to criminality. Lombroso held the belief that criminals were characteristic atavists. He held that criminals were individuals who have undergone particular evolutionary glitches resulting into the unusual traits (Rock, 2007). The traits that trait theorists characteristically associate with criminal conduct include protruding brows, jutting ears, drum chests, and strangely long arms. Presently, the theorists do not propose that particular biological or physical traits account for every form of criminality. Instead, they suggest that every criminal expresses particular traits that explicate his or her behavior (Barlow & Durand, 2006). The traits may be inherited tendencies, neurological malfunctions or blood chemistry problems, or disorders. Biocriminologists hold that a criminal is genetically predisposed to criminality (Rock, 2007). They believe that criminals have mineral and chemical imbalances in their brains, which occasion learning, as well as cognitive, deficits (Wiebe, 2004). The deficits are linked to criminality.
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Criminality is thought of as stemming from how individuals are socialized, how they interact with societal processes, institutions, and organizations by social process theorists, including Albert Bandura. Bandura demonstrated that the effectual learning of animals does not necessarily require them to experience particular events within their milieu. As regards criminality, individuals may learn to be belligerent by seeing others express belligerence (Bartol & Bartol, 2005). For instance, a child may see his elder sibling molest others and take money from them forcibly. Thereafter, the child sees the elder sibling purchase toys using the money. In such a case, the child sees criminal behavior being rewarded and may be motivated to engage in it. To the child, it does not matter that the behavior is wrong. What matters to the child is that the behavior gives rise to rewards.
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How Psychological Factors Impact on Offender Treatment
Offenders are effectively treated through the addressing or elimination of the psychological factors underlying their criminality. For instance, those who express criminal behavior owing to interactions between particular environmental settings, or conditions, and their nervous system, or personality, features, may be treated through keeping them away from the conditions (Bartol & Bartol, 2005; Eysenck & Gudjonsson, 1989). That would stop the interactions, hence the expression of the behavior. As well, they may be effectually treated by putting them through therapies capable of managing, or treating, the relevant personality features (Eysenck & Gudjonsson, 1989).
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According to trait theorists, those with unusual psychological traits that give rise to criminality are best treated through therapies that help control, or limit, the traits’ expression. For instance, they can be taken through particular medical interventions to correct their neurological malfunctions or blood chemistry problems, or disorders. They can be taken through particular medical interventions to correct the mineral and chemical imbalances in their brains. As well, they can be taken through instructional, or learning, interventions to address the learning, as well as cognitive, deficits that they express (Rock, 2007). As indicated earlier, the deficits are linked to criminal behaviors.
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Offenders who are determined to be expressing the behaviors owing to how they interact with specific societal processes, institutions, and organizations are treated by modeling favorable socializations for them. They can be put in social structures where they unlearn the lessons that persuade them to engage in criminality (Barlow & Durand, 2006). For instance, in the earlier example of a child and his elder sibling, if the child takes up the sibling’s behavior, he can be treated by placing him in social contexts where taking money forcibly from others is punished. The child will unlearn that the act is not rewarded but punished, and desist from it.
How Knowing the Factors May Add to the Inefficacy or Efficacy of Offender Treatment
The awareness of the particular psychological factors that contribute to the development or expression of criminal behaviors by individuals is essential in the designing of their treatment regimes (Eysenck & Gudjonsson, 1989). When a particular psychological factor is determined as specifically contributing to the development or expression of a criminal behavior by an individual, the interventions designed to treat him or her particularly targeted (Barlow & Durand, 2006). The treatment given to the individual specifically addresses the factor, thus it is highly likely to be effective. Some offenders express criminal tendencies owing to a mix of factors, psychological or otherwise. In such offenders, some of the factors may be known and thus managed effectively. The factors that remain unknown are not addressed in the treatment regimens designed for the offenders. In such cases, the regimens prove to be ineffective.
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