9 - Introduction to Forensic Psychology Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in 9 - Introduction to Forensic Psychology Deck (17):

What is forensic psychology?

The application of psychological knowledge and theories to all aspects of the criminal and civil justice systems, including the processes and the people.


List the historical perspectives of crime theories?

Classical school of criminology

Positivist school of criminology


Describe the classical school of criminology

- People are rational decision makers
- People freely choose to do the wrong thing
- Punishment should be proportionate to the crime committed


Describe the positivist school of criminology

- Emphasised factors determining criminal behaviour rather than free will
- Believe punishment should fit the criminal
- Seeks to understand crime through scientific methods

E.g. ape-like humans, typing humans based on looks


List the four main types of modern crime theories

1. Sociological Theories
2. Biological Theories
3. Psychological Theories
4. Social-Psychological Theories


Explain sociological theories of crime

Crime explained as a result of social or cultural forces that are external to an individual emerge from social class, political, physical structures, etc.

Individual differences de-emphasised


Describe the types of sociological theories

Structural Explanations
- People have similar interests and motivations, but differ dramatically in opportunities to employ talents
- Discrepancies between aspirations and means create strains that lead to crime

Sub-Cultural Explanations
- Crime originates when various groups of people endorse cultural values that clash with conventional rules of society (e.g. gangs)


What are the cons of sociological theories?

Crimes are often committed by people who have never been denied opportunities (celebrities)

Applies only to certain offences (e.g. not traffic violations)

Doesn't explain why some offend and others don't


Explain biological theories of crime

Stresses genetic influences, chromosomal abnormalities, biochemical irregularities or physical factors as causes of crime.

Theorists respect social and environmental influences as well


Describe the types of biological theories

Constitutional Theories
- 3 somatypes, mesomorph leads to criminal behaviour
- Mesomorphs exposed to wrong influences and environment would engage in more crimes.
- But; few all-or-none categories oversimplify, correlation doesn't equal causation

Genetic Theories
- Adoption studies; men with biological parents with criminal records 4x more likely to be criminals, and 2x with adoptive. Both = 14x more likely.
- But; Unclear what exactly is inherited.


What could be inherited based on biological theories of crime?

- Constitutional pre-disposition (body type)
- Neuropsychological abnormalities
- ANS diferences
- Physiological differences (serotonin)
- Personality and temperament differences


What are the cons of biological theories of crime?

- Fear attributing crime partly to genetic factors as social and environmental neglected.
- Concern it will lead to some people being genetically "inferior"
- Extent to which any behaviour is inheritable cannot explain differences between groups.
- Unclear what exactly is inherited


Explain psychological theories of crime

Crimes result from personality attributes possessed by the potential criminal.

Emphasize individual differences about the way people think or feel about behaviour.


Describe the types of psychological theories

Psychoanalytic Theories
Freuds theories
- Weak ego and superego that can't restrain anti-social instincts of id (e.g. crimes of passion)
- Means of obtaining substitute gratification of basic needs that haven't been satisfied
- Thanatos, desire of animate matter to return to inanimate (die and/or be caught)
- But; modern theories don't suppot

Personality traits
- Criminals show higher levels of all extraversion, neuroticism and psychoticism
- First testable theory

- Anti-social PD
- Psychopathy; engage in frequent criminal activity with little or no remorse


Explain social-psychological theories of crime

Bridges gap between environmentalism of sociology and individualism of psychological or biological theories.

Crime is learned, but theories differ on how it's learned


Describe the types of social-psychological theories

Control Theories
- People will behave antisocially unless they learn through inner controls and external environments not to offend
- Largely external constraint

Learning Theories
- People acquire specific criminal behaviours through different forms of learning (operant (behaviour favoured by rft) and social learning)

- Deviance created by labels that society assigns to certain acts
- Stigma of branded a devant can create a self-fulfilling prophecy (e.g. teachers told bright girls) but little research due to ethics


What is the best theory of crime?

Depends on crime

Most theories can explain certain types of crime, but none explain all forms, and some explain little