Criminal theories

Criminal Theories
Human behaviour is complex, and people act in response to various factors such as
personality, peer group, neighbourhood, socioeconomic status and so forth. Therefore, it is
probably hard to single out a single cause why some people are criminal. Activities that may
be termed as illegal in a country may not be legal in another. Different types of crime have
their own discrete causes. Many theories try to explain the causes of crime.
The psychodynamic theory has roots in Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic perspective.
Individuals personality, ego and super ego according to Freud interacts with the intermediate
environment drawing us to immediate gratification. This theory suggests that criminal
behaviour may result as a psychological maturity reflection, especially weak self-control in
some certain situations. Some of the major risk factors are said to below success in work or
school, disturbed relationships, impulsivity, weak superego equating with some little guilt,
early misconduct and antisocial attitudes, problems in relationships or families and much more.
(Rogers, 2007)
Differential association theory bases upon contact with beliefs, values, attitudes and
rationalisations occurring through contact and exposure to pro and anti-criminal patterns. It has
been found out that social learning major part occurs in a relationship so as to contact with
others. Therefore, the peer relationships mostly dictate the criminality level that an individual
is likely to be involved with (Berzofsky, 2014). The criminal behaviour from this theory is seen
as a differential expression, reinforcement and punishment of non-criminal and criminal
alternative behaviour. The antisocial peers and antisocial attitudes are the interventions.
The social location theory argues that behaviour reflects where one is positioned in a
social system. The access to prestige, power and wealth are attained through anti and prosocial
means. For instance, poor, young and members of the disadvantaged ethnic group may conspire
to carry out some crime. Social location the main idea is that the criminal behaviours mirror
personal strain that may be connected to social disadvantage. Major risk factors in this model
include alienation feelings, low levels of success at work or school, conventional success
desired, limited opportunity perceptions, lower class origins, adoption of lower-class values
and being a member of a gang.
Contemporary trait theory is one of the most prominent theories on criminal behaviours
asserting that such behaviours are a result of abnormal biological and or physical trait. This
theory maintains that the criminal behaviour could be acquired or innate and not as a result of
one single psychological or biological attribute. It suggests that an individual may be born with
these traits or these traits could result from the chemical changes that occur in the body or the
brain. These traits may come from within the people, or they may result from the factors outside
the individual that may affect the behaviour of these people. According to the contemporary
trait theory, some of the biochemical factors that may affect the behaviour of an individual
include diet, exposure to lead, hypoglycaemia, hormonal factors such as testosterone or
androgen as well as environmental contaminants (Crossman, 2017). Criminology approach
from a biological perspective as well as understanding the traits that may contribute to criminal
behaviour is vital as these traits may be crucial in the identification of the suspects and profiling
In conclusion, there is no cause of crime that can be singled out because they are many.
Over the time, cultures change and behaviour that once were not termed as a crime such as
alcohol are criminalised and decriminalised like in the US. This therefore may lead us to say
that no single answer can be regarded as the cause of crime.
Berzofsky, M. (2014, July 19). The Evolution of Criminal Justice Theory. Retrieved from
Crossman, A. (2017, January 08). Biological Explanations Of Deviant Behavior. Retrieved
Rogers, J. D. (2007). Theories of crime and development: A historical perspective. The
Journal of Development Studies(3), 314-328.

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