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Trait Theory

criminality is a product of abnormal biological or psychological traits, began with LOMBROSO'S "born criminal"


NOTES: biology environment and learning are interdependent factors, biological and genetic conditions may influence how social behaviors are learned, BOOK: the view that human behavior is motivated by inborn biological urges to survive and preserve the species

Contemporary Trait Theory

NO single biological or psychological attribute can explain criminality, NOT all criminals are "abnormal"/very few "abnormal" people commit serious crimes, traits may interact with environment or may influence behavior independently

Biochemical Conditions-DIET

Too few vitamins and minerals, and too much sugar and fat have been linked to 1. ADHD-irritability, 2. Depression, 3. Schizophrenia and Dementia, REACTIVE HYPOGLYCEMIA- antisocial behavioral reactions to low blood sugar

Biochemical Conditions- HORMONES

ANDROGENS- (testosterone) linked to mood swings and aggressive impulsive behavior, MENSTRUAL CYCLES- PMS more crimes are committed by women during their premenstrual stage

Neurological Conditions

Criminals often suffer brian impairments, 1. ASPERGER'S among serial killers, 2. BRAIN abnormalities among violent offenders, 3. ADHD and conduct disorder often result in poor school performance which may lead to delinquency


a child shows a developmentally inappropriate lack of attention, along with impulsivity and hyperactivity, about 3% of US children, most often boys are believed to suffer from this disorder.

Intergenerational Crime

Criminal fathers produce criminal sons who then produce criminal grandchildren

Parental Deviance

CAMBRIDGE YOUTH STUDY: 8% of sons of non criminal fathers were chronic offenders, 37% of sons of criminal fathers were chronic offenders, Adopted children were more likely to become criminals if their biological fathers were criminals, pairs of identical twins were more likely to BOTH show criminal tendencies than fraternal twins

Cheater Theory

a subpopulation of men has evolved with genes that incline them toward extremely low parental involvement

Evolutionary Perspective

evolutionary traits make people aggressive or predisposed to commit crime, competition for scarce resources leads to crime, reproductive needs result in gender roles and explain gender differences in crime, MALES- aggressive, mate with many partners, most aggressive males had most impact on gene pool

Psychological Trait Theory- PSYCHODYNAMIC

FREUD- components of personality: 1. ID- unconscious biological drives, instant gratification, 2. EGO- conscious self, tries to regulate behavior, 3. SUPEREGO- moral standards of parents, society, a healthy EGO can resolve and manage conflicts between ID and SUPEREGO, criminals have a weak EGO or underdeveloped SUPEREGO which results in frustration/ aggression, conformity and they may not understand consequences of their actions

Psychological Trait Theory- BEHAVIORAL

the view that all human behavior is learned through a process of social reinforcement (rewards and punishments), learned violent behavior is triggered by environment events

Social Learning Theory

the view that people learn to be aggressive by observing others acting aggressively to achieve some goal or being rewarded for violent acts

Psychological Trait Theory- COGNITIVE

psychological perspective that focuses on mental processes: how people perceive and mentally represent the world around them and solve problems, people who cannot understand cause/effect or who are of lower IQ may not reason well

What predicted male delinquency in Deborah Denno's study?

Lead poisoning


The lowest social stratum in any country, whose members lack the education and skills needed to function successfully in modern society

Antisocial Personality Traits

A combination of traits, such as hyperactivity, impulsivity, hedonism and inability to empathize with others, that make a person prone to deviant behavior and violence; also referred to as sociopath or psychopathic personality. SOCIOPATH- problems originate from environment, PSYCHOPATH- problems originate in ones mind

Social Disorganization Theory

Focuses on the breakdown of institutions such as the family, school, and employment in inner-city neighborhoods

Strain Theory

Sees crime as a function of the conflict between people's goals and the means available to obtain them

Cultural Deviance Theory

Sees strain and social disorganization together resulting in a unique lower-class culture that conflicts with social norms

Components of Social Disorganization

1. Deteriorated neighborhoods, 2. Inadequate social control, 3. Law violating gangs and groups, 4. Conflicting social values

Shaw and McKay Findings

Crime is a product of transitional neighborhoods, 1. High population turnover, 2. Little group identity or familiarity, 3. Few opportunities for traditional paths to success, 4. Many "successful" adults are criminals

Concentration Effect

As working-and middle-class families flee inner-city poverty areas, the most disadvantaged population is consolidated in urban ghettos

Collective Efficacy

Social control exerted by cohesive communities based on mutual trust, including intervention in the supervision of children and maintenance of public order

Components of Collective Efficacy- INFORMAL SOCIAL CONTROL

Some elements of collective efficacy operate on the primary or private level and involve peers, families, or relatives

Components of Collective Efficacy- INSTITUTIONAL SOCIAL CONTROL

Social institutions such as schools and churches cannot work effectively in a climate of alienation and mistrust

Components of Collective Efficacy- PUBLIC SOCIAL CONTROL

Stable neighborhoods are also able to arrange for external sources of social control


View that anomie results when socially defined goals (such as wealth and power) are universally mandated but access to legitimate means (such as education and job opportunities) is stratified by class and status

Merton's Strain Theory 5 Types

1. Conformity- goals and means, 2. Innovator- goals but no means, 3. Ritualist- no goals but means, 4. Retreatist/Revolutionary- no goals or means 5. Rebellion- substitute an alternative set of goals and means for conventional ones

Institutional Anomie

The view that anomie pervades U.S. culture because the drive for material wealth dominates and undermines social and community values

Relative Deprivation

Envy, mistrust, and aggression resulting from perceptions of economic and social inequality

General Strain

The view that multiple sources of strain interact with an individuals emotional traits and responses to produce criminality (Agnew)

Status Frustration (Cohen's)

A form of culture conflict experienced by lower-class youths because social conditions prevent them from achieving success as defined by the larger society

Cohen's 3 Types of Boys

1. Corner Boy- not a chroinc delinquent but may be a truant who engages in petty or status offenses, such as precocious sex and recreational drug abuse, 2. College Boy- embraces the cultural and social values of the middle class, 3. Delinquent Boy- adopt a set of norms and principles that directly oppose middle class values


The process of human development and enculturation it includes: 1. Learning the culture, 2. Intellectual social and emotional development, 3. Development of self concept, 4. Learning and preparing for specific roles

Who developed the Differential Association Theory?

Edwin H. Sutherland

Differential Association Theory

The view that people commit crime when their social learning leads them to perceive more definitions favoring crime than favoring conventional behavior

Neutralization Theory

The view that law violators learn to neutralize conventional values and attitudes, enabling them to drift back and forth between criminal and conventional behavior

Social Control Theory

People commit crime when social bonds are weakened or broken, most people obey laws because of 1. SELF CONTROL- strong moral sense that renders someone in capable of hurting others and violating social norms 2. COMMITMENT TO CONFORMITY- A strong personal investment in conventional institutions, individuals, and processes that prevent people from engaging in behavior that might jeopardize their reputation and achievements

Social Reaction (LABELING) Theory

The view that people become criminals when labeled as such and when they accept the label as a personal identity

Techniques of Neutralization

Methods of rationalizing deviant behavior, such as denying responsibility or blaming the victim 1. Criminals sometimes voice guilt over their illegal acts 2. Offenders frequently respect and admire honest, law abiding persons 3. Criminals define whom they can victimize 4. Criminals are not immune to the demands of conformity

4 Elements of Social Bond (Hirschi)

The ties that bind people to society, including relationships with friends, family, neighbors, teachers, and employers. Elements of the social bond include 1. Commitment, 2. Attachment, 3. Involvement, 4. Belief

Lemert's Primary and Secondary Deviance

PRIMARY DEVIANCE- a norm violation or crime with little or no long term influence on the violator, SECONDARY DEVIANCE- a norm violation or crime that comes to the attention of significant others or social control agents, who apply a negative label with long term consequences for the violators self identity and social interactions

Successful Degradation Ceremony

A course of action or ritual in which someones identity is publicly redefined and destroyed and they are thereafter viewed as socially unacceptable

Deviance Amplification

Process whereby secondary deviance pushes offenders out of mainstream society and locks them into an escalating cycle of deviance, apprehension, labeling and criminal self identity

Diversion Program

Programs of rehabilitation that remove offenders from the normal channels of the criminal justice process, thus avoiding the stigma of a criminal label

Critical Criminology

The view that crime is a product of the capitalist system, Critical Criminology is aimed at identifying "real" crime in U.S. society, such as profiteering, sexism, and racism, considered to be Marxist or radical

Basic Concerns of Critical Criminology

Deeply concerned about the current state of the American political system and the creation of what they consider to be an American Empire abroad

Surplus Value

The difference between what workers produce and what they are paid, which goes to business owners as profits


Displacement of workers, pushing them outside the economic and social mainstream

Instrumental Theory

Sees criminal law and the criminal justice system as capitalist instruments for controlling the lower class

Structural Theory

Based on the belief that criminal law and the criminal justice system are means of defending and preserving the capitalist system

Left Realism

Approach that sees crime as a function of relative deprivation under capitalism and favors pragmatic, community-based crime prevention and control

Criticism of Left Realism

Criticized by critical thinkers as legitimizing the existing power structure: by supporting existing definitions of law and justice, it suggests that the "deviants" and not the capitalist system cause society's problems

Critical Feminism

Approach that explains both victimization and criminality among women in terms of gender inequality, patriarchy and the exploitation of women under capitalism

Hagan's 2 Family Factors Affecting Delinquency

PATERNALISTIC FAMILIES- fathers assume the traditional role of breadwinners, while mothers tend to have menial jobs or remain at home to supervise domestic matters, EGALITARIAN FAMILIES- those in which the husband and wife share similar positions of power at home and in the workplace--daughters gain a kind of freedom that reflects reduced parental control

Principles of Restorative Justice

1. Crime is an offense against human relationships, 2. Victims and the community are central to justice processes, 3. First priority is to assist victims, 4. Second priority is to restore the community, 5. Offender has personal responsibility to the victim and to the community

Characteristics of Restorative Justice

1. Offender takes responsibility for harming people and damaging relationships, 2. Meeting and Reconciliation between victim and offender, 3. Give offender a stake in the community (service), 4. Make restitution (monetary and symbolic), 5. Requires community support, RESTORATIVE JUSTICE HAS BEEN USED IN ASIA FOR CENTURIES

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