I never got thru the entire book. It is simply too boring, so i lack motivation to continue. However, here are my thoughts about the first ~200 pages, about a 1/3 of the book. The book is too big to upload (60mb). Let me know if u want a copy (ebook).
Criminologists interested in legal studies
also evaluate the impact new laws have
on society after they have been in effect
for awhile. Take for instance the practice
of sex offender registration, which requires
convicted sex offenders to register with lo-
cal law enforcement agencies when they
move into a community. These are often
called Megan’s Laws in memory of 7-year-
old Megan Kanka, killed in 1994 by sex
offender Jesse Timmendequas, who had
moved unannounced into her New Jersey
neighborhood. Megan’s Laws require law
enforcement authorities to make informa-
tion available to the public regarding regis-
tered sex offenders, including the offender’s
name, picture, address, incarceration date,
and nature of crime. The information can
be published in newspapers or put on a sex
In Connecticut Dept. of Public Safety v.
Doe (2003), the U.S. Supreme Court up-
held the legality of sex offender registra-
tion when it ruled that persons convicted of
sexual offenses may be required to register
with a state’s Department of Public Safety
and then be listed on a sex offender reg-
istry on the Internet containing registrants’
names, addresses, photographs, and de-
scriptions. In a 9–0 opinion upholding the
plan, the Court reasoned that, because the
law was based on the fact that a defendant
had been convicted of a sex offense, dis-
closing their names on the registry without
a hearing did not violate due process.
But while sex offender registration laws
may be constitutional and pervasive (they
are used in all 50 states), appeal to politi-
cians who may be swayed by media cru-
sades against child molesters (i.e., “To Catch
a Predator” on Dateline NBC), and appease
the public’s desire to “do something” about
child predators, do they actually work? Does
registration deter future sex offenses and re-
duce the incidence of predatory acts against
To answer this question, criminologists
Kristen Zgoba and Karen Bachar recently
(2009) conducted an in-depth study of
the effectiveness of New Jersey’s registra-
tion law and found that while expensive
to maintain, the system did not produce
effective results. On the one hand, sex of-
fense rates in New Jersey were in a steep
decline before the system was installed and
the rate of decline actually slowed down af-
ter 1995 when the law took effect. Zgoba
and Bachar’s data show that the greatest
rate of decline in sex offending occurred
prior to the passage and implementation of
Megan’s Law. On the other hand, passage
and implementation of Megan’s Law did not
reduce the number of rearrests for sex of-
fenses, nor did it have any demonstrable
effect on the time between when sex of-
fenders were released from prison and the
time they were rearrested for any new of-
fense, such as a drug, theft, or another sex
In another effort, Jill Levenson, Elizabeth
Letourneau, Kevin Armstrong, and Kris-
ten Zgoba investigated the relationship
between failure to register (FTR) as a sex
offender and subsequent recidivism with
a sample of 3,000 people convicted of
sexually related crimes. Levenson and her
associates found that there was no signifi-
cant difference in the proportion of sexual
recidivists and nonrecidivists with registra-
tion violations nor did FTR predict sexual
recidivism. And when there was recidivism,
there was no significant difference in time
to recidivism when comparing those who
failed to register (2.9 years) with compliant
registrants (2.8 years).
These results challenge the effective-
ness of sex offender registration laws.
Rather than deter crime, sex offender laws
may merely cause sex offenders to be more
cautious while giving parents a false sense
of security. For example, offenders may tar-
get victims in other states or communities
where they are not registered and parents
are less cautious.
1. Considering the findings of Zgoba and
Bachar, would you advocate aban-
doning sex offender registration laws
because they are ineffective? Or might
there be other reasons to keep them
2. What other laws do you think should be
the topic of careful scientific inquiry to
see if they actually work as advertised?
SOURCES: Jill Levenson, Elizabeth Letourneau,
Kevin Armstrong, and Kristen Zgoba, “Failure
to Register as a Sex Offender: Is It Associated
with Recidivism?” Justice Quarterly 27 (2010):
305–331; Connecticut Dept. of Public Safety v.
Doe, 538 U.S. 1 (2003); Kristen Zgoba and
Karen Bachar, “Sex Offender Registration and
Notification: Research Finds Limited Effects in
New Jersey,” National Institute of Justice, April
(accessed October 29, 2010).
Not surprisingly. Another example of a signal law without positive effects. However, it did cost a lot of money! We’re doing something about sex crimes; tough on sex crime! (but it ain’t working).
Before the American Revolution, the colonies, then under
British rule, were subject to the common law. After the colo-
nies won their independence, state legislatures standardized
common-law crimes such as murder, burglary, arson, and
rape by putting them into statutory form in criminal codes.
As in England, whenever common law proved inadequate
to deal with changing social and moral issues, the states and
Congress supplemented it with legislative statutes. Similarly,
statutes prohibiting such offenses as the sale and possession
of narcotics or the pirating of DVDs have been passed to con-
trol human behavior unknown at the time the common law
was formulated. Today, criminal behavior is dei ned primarily
by statute. With few exceptions, crimes are removed, added,
or modii ed by the legislature of a particular jurisdiction.
The content of the law may also be shaped by judicial de-
cision making. A criminal statute may be no longer enforce-
able when an appellate judge rules that it is vague, deals with
an act no longer of interest to the public, or is an unfair ex-
ercise of state control over an individual. Conversely, a judi-
cial ruling may expand the scope of an existing criminal law,
thereby allowing control over behaviors that heretofore were
beyond its reach. In a famous 1990 case, 2 Live Crew (made
up of Luther Campbell, Christopher Wong Won, Mark Ross,
and David Hobbs), a prominent rap group, found its sales re-
stricted in Florida as police began arresting children under
18 for purchasing the band’s sexually explicit CD As Nasty as
They Want to Be. The hit single “Me So Horny” was banned
from local radio stations. Prosecutors tried but failed to get a
conviction after group members were arrested at a concert. If
members of the Crew had in fact been found guilty and the
conviction had been upheld by the state’s highest appellate
court, obscenity laws would have been expanded to cover
people singing (or rapping) objectionable music lyrics.
This seems to be rather poor quality. Why is the “unlawful” included in the definition of the acts? It seems superfluous or perhaps even circular. Same applies to “wrongful”.
The example for battery makes no sense to me. “A man seeing a stranger sitting in his favorite seat in a cafeteria,
goes up to that person and pushes him out of the seat.”. There is no intention to cause injury in such a case. The intent is to move the person away from the seat.
The definition of “burglary” is strange. “Trespassory breaking and entering of a dwelling
house of another in the nighttime with the intent to commit a felony.”. Why the inclusion of the night time criteria?
Clarifying Rape Sometimes laws are changed to clar-
ify the dei nition of crime and to quell public debate over
the boundaries of the law. When does bad behavior cross
the line into criminality, and when does it remain merely
bad behavior? An example of the former can be found in
changes to the law of rape. In seven states, including Cali-
fornia, it is now considered rape if the victim consents to
sex, the sex act begins, the victim changes his/her mind dur-
ing the act and tells his/her partner to stop, and the part-
ner refuses and continues. The fact that the victim initially
consented to and participated in a sexual act does not bar
him/her from withdrawing that consent. However, the vic-
tim must communicate the withdrawal of consent in such
a manner that the accused knew or reasonably should have
known that the consent was withdrawn. Before the legal
change, such a circumstance was not considered rape but
merely aggressive sex.
I’m having trouble believing that anyone ever got off the hook by arguing that it didn’t matter that the partner stopped consenting after a while. Srsly?
Citation given is: Matthew Lyon, “No Means No? Withdrawal of Consent During Intercourse and the
Continuing Evolution of the Definition of Rape,” Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 95 (2004): 277–314.
Abstract: Section I of the article describes the evolution of the definition of rape over the past 25 years, with reforms bringing the termination of the marital rape exemption and an increased emphasis on nonconsent of the victim; the latter trend has resulted in the removal of the force requirement as an element of sexual assault in some jurisdictions. Section II reviews the current state of the law in cases where consent is initially given and then withdrawn. Some State court decision in the 1980’s reinforced the common-law rule that if consent is given initially, the act cannot be considered rape, even if consent is withdrawn in the course of the act. In contrast, several recent State court decisions have broadened the definition of rape to include situations where consent is initially given but subsequently withdrawn by the victim. Section III compares these two differing statutory definitions of rape. Section IV notes some of the criticisms of the expansion of the rape definition in California, Illinois, and other jurisdictions. The main criticisms are that it is impossible to define a reasonable amount of time for the partner to stop the act after consent is withdrawn; it victimizes men; and it trivializes the harm done to women who are victims of “actual” rapes. Another criticism is made by reform advocates when they claim that such laws minimize the rights of rape victims by transforming them from constitutional rights to statutory rights. This article argues that rape statutes should protect all victims of nonconsensual intercourse, regardless of when the decision not to have intercourse is stated.
(in an info box about Part I crimes)
The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will. Included are rapes by force and attempts or assaults to rape. Statutory offenses (no force used—victim under age of consent) are excluded.
Not sure if text is supposed to be US centric or not (it is very US centric, but that may or may not be on purpose). However, this bugs me. Does the US really not recognize rape by females or male-male rape for that matter? Wikipedia has some interesting data about that: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Male_rape#Rape_of_males_by_males
Motor Vehicle Theft
The theft or attempted theft of a motor vehicle. A motor vehicle is self-propelled and runs on the surface and not on rails. Specifically
excluded from this category are motorboats, construction equipment, airplanes, and farming equipment.
Seems kinda strange for stealing of automobiles (but excluding similar things, like a bike or a tractor) to have a category of its own.
Use of Firearms
Firearms play a dominant role in criminal activity. According to the UCR, about two-thirds of all murders and 40 percent of robberies involve firearms; most of these weapons are handguns. Because of these findings, there is an ongoing debate over gun control. International criminologists Franklin Zimring and Gordon Hawkins believe the proliferation of handguns and the high rate of lethal violence they cause is the single most
significant factor separating the crime problem in the United States from the rest of the developed world.
Differences between the United States and Europe in nonlethal crimes are only modest at best—and getting smaller over time.
In contrast, some criminologists believe that personal gun use can actually be a deterrent to crime. Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz have found that as many as 400,000 people per year use guns in situations in which they later claim that the guns almost “certainly” saved lives. Even if these estimates are off by a factor of 10, it means that armed citizens may save 40,000 lives annually. Although Kleck and Gertz recognize that guns
are involved in murders, suicides, and accidents, which claim more than 30,000 lives per year, they believe their benefit as a crime prevention device should not be overlooked.
Can u see the problem with this reasoning? Supposing that it really is of by factor 10, and that firearms avoid some 40k deaths a year, and cause some other 30k. This means a net benefit of -10k deaths, right? However, there is an obvious and relevant question here: Supposing there was firearms regulation, how much wud that reduce the need for guns to save lives? Almost certainly by a lot. One can correct for this, by asking about the type of situation where the firearm allegedly saved lives. If the main situation where they save lives are where other people have guns, then gun control may be a good idea. This depends a bit on how easy it will be to get a hold of guns thru a black market, and how effective gun control enforcement is. Difficult subject!
While the association between class and crime seems logical, it is not accepted by all criminologists. An alternative explanation is that the relationship between official crime and social class is a function of law enforcement practices, not actual criminal behavior patterns. Police may
devote more resources to poor areas, and consequently apprehension rates may be higher there. Similarly, police may be more likely to formally arrest and prosecute lower-class citizens, especially racial and ethnic minorities, while giving those in the middle and upper classes more lenient treatment, such as handling their law violations with a warning. Police behavior and not actual behavior may account for the lower class’s over-representation in official statistics and the prison population. This explanation is supported by self-report data that does not find a direct relationship between social class and crime.68 The conclusion: if the poor have more extensive criminal records than the wealthy, this difference is attributable to differential law enforcement and not to class-based behavior differences. That is, police may be more likely to arrest lower-class offenders and treat the affluent more leniently.69
I’d be surprised if there was true. Sources are:
James Short and F. Ivan Nye, “Extent of Unrecorded Juvenile Delinquency, Tentative Conclusions,” Journal of Criminal Law,
Criminology, and Police Science 49 (1958): 296–302.
Charles Tittle, Wayne Villemez, and Douglas Smith, “The Myth of Social Class and Criminality: An Empirical Assessment of the Empirical Evidence,” American Sociological Review 43 (1978): 643–656.
First off, the sources are quite old. Average age = 1968, which is about 45 years old! That makes me even more skeptic. Surely, if there is good, current evidence for such a claim, there are more recent data and reviews about it. Nevertheless, let’s check the actual papers as well. Begining with the most recent paper, which turns out to be a systematic review.
The basic findings are presented in Table 1, which shows average gammas for various categories of age, sex, and race. Contrary to general theoretical expectations and widespread popular opinion, the data as a whole show only a very slight negative relationship between social class
and crime/delinquency. The overall gamma for the 363 instances (fourth panel) is only -.09, a figure which indicates almost no relationship. Indeed, a gamma of this magnitude could result from a mere two or three point difference between the percent of upper and lower class individuals displaying criminal tendencies. Examining column totals in panel four, one can see that the relationship is similarly weak
in instances where only males are in-eluded (-.08), where only females are included (- .11), and in mixed-sex instances (-.10). Row totals show the same for instances of whites (-.07), nonwhites (-.01), and of both combined (-.12). In short, the variance about our average gamma is small. With more thorough breakdowns by age, sex, and race of subjects (panels one through four), some larger average gammas result, but there is no consistent patterning. Although the signs of most gammas are negative (indicating some support for an inverse relationship between class and deviance), the measures themselves are usually quite small, and the signs are not all negative. The most stable results are in instances
where young males are the object of study. Yet for this category, 154 individual instances yield a mean gamma of only -.12. There are categories with larger negative average gammas (all adult-only instances, -.46; all youth-adult mixed instances, -.70) but those averages
are based on small N’s (three and five, respectively) and are therefore not impressive given the variance found in subgroups with many instances. In fact, except for the two cases mentioned, if we set confidence limits about any of the mean gammas, those limits would include zero
in every case. Thus, support for an overall negative class/criminality relationship is at best slight when the data are considered simply as a collectivity of evidence.
Here is the table mentioned:
The correlation is not at all impressive. Interesting, the correlation with IQ is stronger, sitting at -.20 (based on studies mentioned here). Controlling for SES lowers this to -.17, which is still larger than the -.09 found with SES alone. In fact, almost double as strong. It wud be interesting to see a study that controlled for both, i.e., large scale regression analysis.
The authors also divide the studies up by report type: self-report and official, and by time. Here is the figure:
Note how the self-report percentage increases and the correlation reduces over time. They authors conclude:
Accumulated data suggest that for the past four decades there has been a monotonic decline in association between social class and crime/delinquency, with contemporary (those done since 1970) self-report and official statistics studies finding essentially no relationship between class and crime/delinquency. Moreover, these historical changes are found to be attributable to changes in findings by studies using official data. Further, analysis reveals a pattern of results which can be interpreted in either of two ways. One interpretation, contingent on confidence in the validity of self-report data, is that data never did demonstrate a negative relationship between status and crime/delinquency, and that in previous decades research appeared to show such a relationship because of biases in the criminal justice process which now have been corrected. Another interpretation, contingent upon confidence in the validity of official data, is that a class relationship did exist in the past, but no longer exists because social class generally has become less important. But whichever interpretation is accepted, the implications undermine the purported class/criminality relationship which has fueled so much theoretical activity in sociology. Thus, numerous theories developed on the assumption of class differences appear to be based on false premises. It is now time, therefore, to shift away from class-based theories to those emphasizing more generic processes.
This is a difficult issue. I shud read more about it before i settle on some opinion. It has definitely weakened my belief in the association between SES and crime. Somethings remain, however. It is possible that the self-reports studies underestimate the correlation a bit. The hypothesis being that there is a correlation between SES and intelligence, and between intelligence and ability to remember past events. Everything else equal, one wud expect a correlation between self-reported criminal activity (past events) and SES to be a little smaller. I dunno if this is actually true at all. It’s worth checking.
I didn’t bother to check out the other paper. It seems to be a study, not a meta-study and it’s very dated, being even before the civil rights amendment.
Another thing: how does this hold up in other countries? Presumingly, all the studies used in the systematic review above are from the US.
Individual Costs In addition to these societal costs, victims may suffer long-term losses in earnings and occupational attainment. Victim costs resulting from an assault are as high as $14,000, and costs are even higher for rape and arson; the average murder costs more than $4 million.8
Research by Ross Macmillan shows that Americans who suffer a violent victimization during adolescence earn about $110,000 less than nonvictims during their lifetime; Canadian victims earn $300,000 less. Macmillan reasons that victims bear psychological and physical ills that inhibit first their academic achievement and later their economic and professional success.9
That causal mechanism doesn’t sound very plausible to me. I wonder if they corrected for intelligence in the data. I suspect that victims of violent crime are less smart on average. Smarter people generally stay away from high risk areas, and associate with fewer high risk people due to assortative relationships for intelligence, and the negative correlation between intelligence and violence. At least, i do all these things and some of the smart people i know have expressed similar views about safety.
The source is:
Ross Macmillan, “Adolescent Victimization and Income Deficits in Adulthood Rethinking the Costs of Criminal Violence from a Life-Course Perspective,” Criminology 38 (2000): 553–588.
Estimating the financial costs of criminal violence to victims is important for assessing both the impact of crime on individuals and
evaluating the feasibility and utility of various crime prevention, crime control, and criminal justice policies. Traditionally, such estimates
focus on short-term costs: costs connected to the victimization event itself and costs incurred during the immediate aftermath. Although the possibility of more long-term costs is acknowledged, research has yet to articulate how and to what extent criminal violence impacts socioeconomic fortunes. In this article, I propose a life-course model for estimating the long-term costs of violent victimization. Using prospective, longitudinal data from a national sample of American adolescents, and retrospective data from a national sample of Canadians, I use this conceptual model to estimate income losses over the life cycle associated with violent victimization. Three significant results are reported. First, income losses from violent victimization are age-graded, with the greatest costs occurring for victimization experienced in adolescence. Second, criminal violence experienced in adolescence appears to influence later earnings by disrupting processes of educational and occupational attainment. Third, the total costs of criminal violence over the life course for adolescents are considerable in comparison to estimates provided in previous research. The policy implications of these findings are discussed.
A keyword search for “intelligence”, ” IQ “, “cognitive” got no relevant hits. Presumably, there is no control for intelligence and his theory is consistent with the data as much as mine is, except mine uses an already known causal mechanism and his doesn’t. Mine is more plausible. Altho, i didn’t bother to read the paper in detail. I read the abstract, skimmed the discussion and used the search. Good enough for now.
It is widely assumed that younger children are less likely to be injured in attacks than older teens and adults, but in fact the opposite may be true.14 Recent research by David Finkelhor and his colleagues at the University of New Hampshire Crimes Against Children
Research Center found that younger children’s victimization by peers and siblings was similar to that experienced by older youth. Both groups suffered similar injuries, were just as likely to be hit with an object that could cause injury, and were victimized on multiple occasions.15
These younger victims are also more prone to suffer stress. Adolescent victims are particularly at risk to PTSD.16
Kids who have undergone traumatic sexual experiences later suffer psychological deficits.17 Mark Shelvin and his associates found that a history of childhood trauma, including rape and molestation, was signii cantly associated with visual, auditory, and tactile hallucinations. Kids who were repeatedly traumatized increased their experience with the three types of hallucinations, clearly indicating that childhood abuse can have a devastating effect on long-term mental health.18
Many run away to escape their environment, which puts them at risk for juvenile arrest and involvement with the justice system.19 Others suffer posttraumatic mental problems, including acute stress disorders, depression, eating disorders, nightmares, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and other psychological problems.20 Stress, however, does not end in childhood. Children who are psychologically, sexually, or physically abused are more likely to suffer low self-esteem and be more suicidal as adults.21 They are also placed at greater risk to be re-abused as adults than those who escaped childhood victimization.22 The re-abused carry higher risks for psychological and physical problems, ranging from sexual promiscuity to increased HIV infection rates.23
Abuse as a child may lead to despair, depression, and even homelessness as an adult. One study of homeless women found that they were much more likely than other women to report childhood physical abuse, childhood sexual abuse, adult physical assault, previous sexual assault in adulthood, and a history of mental health problems.24
Who wants to be named “defender of rape”? Well, probably not many. But i can’t help wondering how many of these studies had adequate controls. Here’s what i’m thinking that they did: they compared groups of people who suffered this or that with people who didn’t. Perhaps they controlled for a few things. My suspicion is that people that get raped are people that tend to be irrational and have psychological problems to begin with that resulted in them being raped (statistically). One can test for this by doing early personality tests on people and correlating those vs. outcomes. If a trait tends to correlate with later on being raped (for instance), it is hard to not think that that personality trait simply makes people behave in risky ways: do more drugs, hang out with questionable people.
I dunno. Ofc, it is not so easy to do something similar with persons who were raped as small children. One cannot just give them personality tests before that. And there is also the problem of reliability thruout childhood for personality tests. I’m not familiar with the reliability of Big Five traits in childhood.
The author seems to agree with me about this suspicion, for he later writes:
Victim Impulsivity Perhaps there is
something about victims’ personality
traits that incite attacks. A number of
research efforts have found that both
male and female victims have an im-
pulsive personality that might render
them abrasive and obnoxious, char-
acteristics that might incite victimization.73 People who are
impulsive and lack self-control are less likely to have a high
tolerance for frustration and a physical rather than mental
orientation; they are less likely to practice risk avoidance. It
is possible that impulsive people are not only antagonistic
and therefore more likely to become targets, but they also
are risk takers who get involved in dangerous situations and
fail to take precautions.74
The cites are:
73. Wilcox, Tillyer, and Fisher, “Gendered
74. Christopher Schreck, Eric Stewart, and
Bonnie Fisher, “Self-Control, Victimization,
and Their Inl uence on Risky Lifestyles: A
Longitudinal Analysis Using Panel Data,”
Journal of Quantitative Criminology
22 (2006): 319–340.
Abstract of the latter study:
This research expands past investigations into the influence of low self-control as a risk factor for criminal victimization. Specifically, we consider two questions: (1) whether low self-control at one point in time can predict future victimization, and (2) whether victims alter lifestyle choices (like their own delinquency and contact with delinquent peers) in response to their earlier victimization. We answered these questions using three waves of adolescent panel data from the evaluation of the Gang Resistance Education and Training program. Our results support the predictions of self-control theory, showing that low self-control measured at an earlier time is associated with later victimization, even after controlling for past victimization, delinquency, social bonds, and delinquent peer contact. Likewise, self-control appears to influence the relationship between earlier victimization and later lifestyles.
Gender As Figure 3.3 shows, gender affects victimization risk.
Except for the crimes of rape and sexual assault, males are more
likely than females to be the victims of violent crime. Men are
almost twice as likely as women to experience robbery. Women,
however, are six times more likely than men to be victims of
rape, domestic violence, and sexual assault. Although males are
more likely to be victimized than females, the gender differences
in the victimization rate have narrowed signii cantly over time.
Altho there is apparently some doubt about this. See Wikipedia on Rape by gender.
According to victim precipitation theory, some people
may actually initiate the confrontation that eventually leads
to their injury or death. Victim precipitation can be either
active or passive.
Active precipitation occurs when victims act provoca-
tively, use threats or fighting words, or even attack first.67
In 1971, Menachem Amir suggested female rape victims
often contribute to their attacks by dressing provocatively
or pursuing a relationship with the rapist.68 Although
Amir’s findings are controversial, courts have continued
to return not-guilty verdicts in rape cases if a victim’s ac-
tions can in any way be construed as consenting to sexual
Seems interesting. Unfortunately, both the cites are books, thus making it more difficult to review the evidence for me:
68. Menachem Amir, Patterns in Forcible Rape
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
69. Susan Estrich, Real Rape (Cambridge, MA:
Harvard University Press, 1987).
Guardianship Even the most motivated
offenders may ignore valuable targets if they
are well guarded. Despite containing valuable
commodities, private homes and/or public
businesses may be considered off-limits by
seasoned criminals if they are well protected
by capable guardians and efficient security
Criminals are also aware of police guard-
ianship. In order to convince them that crime
does not pay, more cops can be put on the
street. Proactive, aggressive law enforcement
officers who quickly get to the scene of the
crime help deter criminal activities.104
This reminds me of the Kansas City preventive patrol experiment. Surely, the author most know of this study. Why does he suggest the opposite? Altho it is possible that it is not whether law officers actually get to the crime scene quickly that matters or whether they patrol much, but whether the public, including the criminals, think so. One cud try another experiment, the reverse of the above, where one informs the public that the police will from now one be patrolling less becus of budget cuts (or whatever). In reality, the police will patrol the same amount. Sounds like an interesting idea for a study even if tricky to pull off. It might require the co-operation of some politicians.
The cites given are:
103. Brandon Welsh and David Farrington,
“Surveillance for Crime Prevention in Pub-
lic Space: Results and Policy Choices in
Britain and America,” Criminology and Pub-
lic Policy 3 (2004): 701–730.
104. Richard Timothy Coupe and Laurence
Blake, “The Effects of Patrol Workloads and
Response Strength on Arrests at Burglary
Emergencies,” Journal of Criminal Justice 33
It is relatively easy to show that some crimes are the product
of rational, objective thought, especially when they involve
an ongoing criminal conspiracy centered on economic gain.
When prominent bankers in the savings and loan industry
were indicted for criminal fraud, their elaborate i nancial
schemes exhibited not only signs of rationality but brilliant,
though l awed, i nancial expertise.67 The stock market ma-
nipulations of Enron and WorldCom executives, the drug
dealings of international cartels, and the gambling opera-
tions of organized crime bosses all demonstrate a reasoned
analysis of market conditions, interests, and risks. Even
small-time wheeler-dealers, such as the female drug dealers
discussed earlier in the chapter, are guided by their rational
assessment of the likelihood of apprehension and take pains
to avoid detection. But what about common crimes of theft
and violence? Are these rational acts or unplanned, haphaz-
ard, and spontaneous?
The rest of this section deals with the perceived rationality of different kinds of crime. Or rather, it is about the rationality of the perpetrators. Rational in this context means something like using a cost/benefit analysis or trying to minimize the chance of getting caught. In this sense, there can’t be much dispute that some perpetrators are somewhat rational. This section seems somewhat strange, becus no one wud deny that perpetrators are somewhat rational in a rational choice theory sense.
It seems worth noting that just becus criminals think a bit about how to optimize what they are doing, it doesn’t follow that rational choice theory is a correct description of criminals’ thinking. RCT (at least, classical version) gives wrong predictions about human behavior as psychologists have time and time demonstrated. One is almost tempted to call such alternative theories for irrational choice theories. :D
According to the theory of specific deterrence, the
harsher the punishment, the less likely the chances of re-
cidivism. But research shows that this is not always the case.
Offenders sentenced to prison do not have lower rates of
recidivism than those receiving more lenient community
sentences for similar crimes. White-collar offenders who
receive prison sentences are as likely to recidivate as those
who receive community-based sanctions.185
This is interesting. I wonder how alternative punishments such as fysical punishment (say, whips with a lash á la Starship Troopers) or shameful and humiliating punishments such as being forced to walk around town picking up garbage while others can look at one. If such a punishment is equally good and costs the same, then surely it is a good idea. It gives the added benefit of cleaner streets.
While these results are not encouraging, there are research
studies that show that arrest and conviction may under some
circumstances lower the frequency of reoffending, a find-
ing that supports specific deterrence.
191 The most famous of
these involve arrest and punishment for domestic violence.
Yet, they also show that achieving specific deterrent effects
may sometimes be elusive. In the classic study, Lawrence
Sherman and Richard Berk had police officers in Minneapo-
lis, Minnesota, randomly assign one of three outcomes to do-
mestic assault cases they encountered on their beats:192
- Advice and mediation only
- Remove the assailant from the home for a period of eight hours
- Formally arrest the assailant
According to deterrence theory, arrest should have
a greater impact than advice and mediation, and in this
case it did. Sherman and Berk found that when police took
formal action (arrest), the chance of recidivism was sub-
stantially less than with less punitive measures, such as
warning offenders or ordering offenders out of the house
for a cooling-off period. A six-month follow-up found that
only 10 percent of those who were arrested repeated their
violent behavior, while 19 percent of those advised and
24 percent of those sent away repeated their offenses. Sher-
man and Berk concluded that a formal arrest was the most
effective means of controlling domestic violence, regard-
less of what happened to the offender in court, and the
specific deterrent effect of arrest produced positive long-
The Minneapolis experiment deeply affected police op-
erations around the nation. Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Den-
ver, Detroit, New York, Miami, San Francisco, and Seattle,
among other large cities, adopted policies encouraging ar-
rests in domestic violence cases. A number of states adopted
legislation mandating that police either take formal action
in domestic abuse cases or explain in writing their failure
to act. Nonetheless, replicating the Minneapolis experiment
in five other locales—including Omaha, Nebraska, and
Charlotte, North Carolina—failed to duplicate the original
results.193 In these locales, formal arrest was not a greater
deterrent to domestic abuse than warning or advising the
More recent efforts to link punishment and deter-
rence in domestic violence cases have also produced in-
conclusive results. One recent examination conducted by
Andrew Klein and Terri Tobin of the abuse and criminal
careers of 342 men arraigned in the Quincy, Massachusetts,
District Court found that batterers were undeterred by ar-
rest, prosecution, probation supervision, incarceration,
and treatment. Although only a minority of the men in the
study reabused (32 percent) or were arrested for any crime
(43 percent) within a year of their i rst involvement with
the justice system, over the next decade, the majority
(60 percent) were involved in a second incident and almost
three-fourths were rearrested for a domestic abuse or non-
domestic abuse crime. The implications of the domestic
violence research is that even if punishment can produce a
short-term specific deterrent effect, it fails to produce lon-
ger-term behavior change.194
Pretty interesting. Seems pretty conclusive to me, as in, there is no effect. If 5 of 6 studies find no association despite employing a proper method, then the one positive result is most likely a fluke.
What seems no longer tenable at this juncture is any
theory of human behavior which ignores biology and
relies exclusively on socio-cultural learning. . . . Most
social scientists have been wrong in their dogmatic
rejection and blissful ignorance of the biological param-
eters of our behavior.18
At midcentury, sociology dominated the study of crime and
scholarship and any suggestion that antisocial behavior may
have an individual-level cause was treated with enmity.19
Some criminologists label this position as biophobia, the
view that no serious consideration should be given to biologi-
cal factors when attempting to understand human nature.20
Then in the early 1970s, spurred by the publication of
Sociobiology, by biologist Edmund O. Wilson, the biologi-
cal basis for crime once again emerged into the limelight.21
Sociobiology differs from earlier theories of behavior in that
it stresses that biological and genetic conditions affect how
social behaviors are learned and perceived. These percep-
tions, in turn, are linked to existing environmental struc-
tures. Sociobiologists view the gene as the ultimate unit of
life that controls all human destiny. Although they believe
environment and experience also have an impact on behav-
ior, their main premise is that most actions are controlled by
a person’s “biological machine.” Most important, people are
controlled by the innate need to have their genetic material
survive and dominate others. Consequently, they do every-
thing in their power to ensure their own survival and that of
others who share their gene pool (relatives, fellow citizens,
and so forth). Even when they come to the aid of others,
which is called reciprocal altruism, people are motivated
by the belief that their actions will be reciprocated and that
their gene survival capability will be enhanced.
Well, it starts off good. But then the author begins to do it wrong. No evolutionary psychologist wud affirm the author’s description of their thinking. People are not conscious about how reciprocal altruism works, or inclusive fitness. They will benefit their family for the evolutionary reason that the members of the family share genes with them, not becus this is some conscious motive. This is the difference between ultimate explanations and proximate explanations.
This is exactly the kind of thing i love about being a polymath/generalist. These small but crucial distinctions that are made within a field are often not made when people outside the field refer to the theories inside the field. This leads to lots of straw men and mischaracterizations. Polymaths and generalists can help avoid such mistakes. For instance, for a researcher in a given field who writes a text about a broad subject, it is probably a good idea if he cud get a polymath or generalist to read thru his work to fix such mistakes.
Smoking and Drinking Maternal alcohol abuse and/or
smoking during gestation have long been linked to prena-
tal damage and subsequent antisocial behavior in adoles-
cence.28 When Lisa Gatzke-Kopp and Theodore Beauchaine
examined relations between maternal smoking and child
behavior, they found that exposure to smoke was associ-
ated with increased psychopathology in offspring and that
exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke during pregnancy
predicted later conduct disorder.29 Having a smoking par-
ent had a greater affect on behavior than other influences,
including prematurity, low birth weight, and poor parenting
Research now shows that people who start drinking by
the age of 14 are five times more likely to become alcoholics
than people who hold off on drinking until the age of 21. It
is possible that early exposure of the brain to alcohol may
short-circuit the growth of brain cells, impairing the learn-
ing and memory processes that protect against addiction.
Thus, early ingestion of alcohol will have a direct influence
Not a single mention of genes. This is strange since this is from the section that supposedly deals with biosocial theories. How much of smoking behavior is explained via genetics alone? It was mentioned in Hjernevask that it is highly heritable. I googled it and found a random study which puts the heritability at 56%.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Many
parents have noticed that their children do not pay attention
to them—they run around and do things in their own way.
Sometimes this inattention is a function of age; in other in-
stances, it is a symptom of attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder (ADHD), in which a child shows a developmen-
tally inappropriate lack of attention, impulsivity, and hyper-
activity. The various symptoms of ADHD are described in
About 3 percent of U.S. children (most often boys, but
the condition can also affect girls) are believed to suffer from
this disorder, and it is the most common reason children are
referred to mental health clinics. ADHD has been associated
with poor school performance, grade retention, placement
in special needs classes, bullying, stubbornness, and lack
of response to discipline. Although the origin of ADHD is
still unknown, suspected causes include neurological dam-
age, prenatal stress, and even reactions to food additives
and chemical allergies. Some psychologists believe that the
syndrome is essentially a chemical problem, specifically,
an impairment in the chemical system that supports rapid
and efficient communication in the brain’s management
This is a typical example of how the book deals with causes of crime. It is full of references to ‘abnormal’ brain this or that, hormones, food, etc. The author believes that criminal/antisocial behavior is abnormal behavior. I counted 19 counts of use of the words abnormal and abnormally in just a few pages.
But such behavior really isn’t abnormal. For most of our evolutionary history, antisocial behavior was a good way to get things done. There was no justice system, no police (besides, perhaps the leader of the group). Aggressive behavior exists in humans, just as it does in other animals, for a good reason: it works. Even if it works less now than it did before, that is still the reason why it is here. It still seems to be adaptive. Here’s the abstract of a recent paper:
Adolescent peer-aggression has recently been considered from the evolutionary perspective of intrasexual competition for mates. We tested the hypothesis that peer-nominated physical aggression, indirect aggression, along with self-reported bullying behaviors at Time 1 would predict Time 2 dating status (one year later), and that Time 1 peer- and self-reported peer victimization would negatively predict Time 2 dating status. Participants were 310 adolescents who were in grades 6 through 9 (ages 11-14) at Time 1. Results showed that for both boys and girls, peer-nominated indirect aggression was predictive of dating one year later even when controlling for age, peer-rated attractiveness, and peer-perceived popularity, as well as initial dating status. For both sexes, self-reported peer victimization was negatively related to having a dating partner at Time 2. Findings are discussed within the framework of intrasexual competition.
A multi-informant longitudinal study on the relationship between aggression, peer victimization, and dating status in adolescence, Evolutionary Psychology 10(2): 253-270, Steven Arnocky, Department of Psychology, Nipissing UniversityTracy Vaillancourt, Faculty of Education and School of Psychology, University of Ottawa.
ETA: To be fair, later the author does acknowledge that evolutionary psychologists think that aggressive behavior was fitness increasing earlier in our history.
Ofc, no such book as this one is complete without the usual criticism of genetic studies.
Evaluating Genetic Research Twin studies also have
their detractors. Some opponents suggest that available
evidence provides little conclusive proof that crime is ge-
netically predetermined. Not all research efforts have found
that MZ twin pairs are more closely related in their criminal
behavior than DZ or ordinary sibling pairs, and some that
have found an association note that it is at best “modest.”165
Those who oppose the genes–crime relationship point to
the inadequate research designs and weak methodologies
of supporting research. The newer, better-designed research
studies, critics charge, provide less support than earlier, less
methodically sound studies.166
Even if the behavior similarities between MZ twins
are greater than those between DZ twins, the association
may be explained by environmental factors. MZ twins are
more likely to look alike and to share physical traits than
DZ twins, and they are more likely to be treated similarly.
Similarities in their shared behavior patterns may therefore
be a function of socialization and/or environment and not
It is also possible that what appears to be a genetic ef-
fect picked up by the twin research is actually the effect of
sibling influence on criminality, referred to as the contagion
effect: genetic predispositions and early experiences make
some people, including twins, susceptible to deviant behav-
ior, which is transmitted by the presence of antisocial sib-
lings in the household.168
The contagion effect may explain in part the higher
concordance of deviant behaviors found in identical twins
as compared to fraternal twins or mere siblings. The
relationship between identical twins may be stronger and
more enduring than other sibling pairs so that contagion and
not genetics explains their behavioral similarities. Accord-
ing to Marshall Jones and Donald Jones, the contagion effect
may also help explain why the behavior of twins is more
similar in adulthood than in adolescence.169 Youthful mis-
behavior is influenced by friends and peer group relation-
ships. As adults, the influence of peers may wane as people
marry and i nd employment. In contrast, twin influence is
everlasting; if one twin is antisocial, it legitimizes and sup-
ports the criminal behavior in his or her co-twin. This effect
may grow even stronger in adulthood because twin relations
are more enduring than any other. What seems to be a ge-
netic effect may actually be the result of sibling interaction
with a brother or sister who engages in antisocial activity.
Adoption Studies One way of avoiding the pitfalls of twin
studies is to focus attention on the behavior of adoptees.
It seems logical that if the behavior of adopted children is
more closely aligned to that of their biological parents than
to that of their adoptive parents, then the idea of a genetic
basis for criminality would be supported. If, on the other
hand, adoptees are more closely aligned to the behavior of
their adoptive parents than their biological parents, an envi-
ronmental basis for crime would seem more valid.
Several studies indicate that some relationship exists be-
tween biological parents’ behavior and the behavior of their
children, even when their contact has been nonexistent.170
One analysis of Swedish adoptees also found that genetic
factors are highly significant, accounting for 59 percent of
the variation in their petty crime rates. Boys who had crimi-
nal parents were significantly more likely to violate the law.
Environmental influences and economic status were signifi-
cantly less important, explaining about 19 percent of the
variance in crime. Nonetheless, having a positive environ-
ment, such as being adopted into a more affluent home,
helped inhibit genetic predisposition.171
The genes–crime relationship is controversial because it
implies that the propensity to commit crime is present at
birth and cannot be altered. It raises moral dilemmas: if in
utero genetic testing could detect a gene for violence, and a
violence gene was found to be present, what could be done
as a precautionary measure?
Obviously, the answer to this is: eugenics.
I’m curious about the sources, let’s have a look. They are rather old. The newest one is from 2004, that’s 8 years. Oldest is from 1983.
- 165. Gregory Carey, “Twin Imitation for Antisocial Behavior Implications for Genetic and Family Environment Research” Journal of
Abnormal Psychology 101 (1992): 18–25;
David Rowe and Joseph Rodgers, “The
Ohio Twin Project and ADSEX Studies:
Behavior Genetic Approaches to Under-
standing Antisocial Behavior,” paper pre-
sented at the annual meeting of the Ameri-
can Society of Criminology, Montreal,
Canada, November 1987.
When twin pairs influence each other’s behavior, observed variance is greater for MZ twins than
for DZ twins under at least 1 of 2 conditions: (a) the trait has some heritability and (b) MZ twins
influence each other more than do DZ twins. Applied to a trait that has an underlying continuous
distribution but is measured as a dichotomy, the presence of reciprocal twin influence predicts that
if the base rate for the trait is not exactly 50%, then the prevalence of the trait should differ in MZ
and DZ twin pairs. This prediction held for registered criminality in a large twin cohort. Methods
of analysis that permit reciprocal twin interaction not only provide better statistical fits to the data
but also yield estimates of heritability that agree with adoption data. The results suggest that the
genetic influence on registered criminality may be more modest than previously thought.
The authors of the paper write that previous studies with twins have not taken reciprocal imitation into account. For non-adoption twin studies, this seems to be true. The idea is that the twins imitate each other. The authors tested for this with a large danish cohort. It thus interesting to see the adoption studies also cited below. Do they show that this effect is minimal or it is of comparable size to the genetic influence alone?
- 166. Glenn Walters, “A Meta-Analysis of the Gene–Crime Relationship” Criminology 30
This investigation used the statistical technique of meta-analysis to
probe the putative association between heredity and crime. The data for
this study were 54 effect sizes obtained from 38 family, twin, and adoption
studies on crime. In addition to the overall gene-crime relationship, the
potential moderating effects of gender, sample nationality, date of publica-
tion, and quality of the research design were also investigated. It was pre-
dicted that heredity and crime would not coincide, although subsequent
analyses disclosed a low-moderate correlation between these two variables
(mean unweighted phi coefficient = .25; mean weighted phi coefficient =
.09). Further analysis of these data revealed that better designed and
more recently published studies provided less support for the gene-crime
hypothesis than more poorly designed and earlier published investigations.
The individual strengths and weaknesses of the meta-analytic technique
relative to this effort to achieve insight into the gene-crime relationship are
Interesting, but the meta-analysis is rather old. 20 years old. Surely, a more updated analysis has been published since. I wud be very surprised if it turns out to be true that the heredity of criminal behavior is close to 0.
- 167. Alice Gregory, Thalia Eley, and Robert Plo-
min, “Exploring the Association Between
Anxiety and Conduct Problems in a Large
Sample of Twins Aged 2–4,” Journal of
Abnormal Child Psychology 32 (2004):
- 168. Marshall Jones and Donald Jones, “The
Contagious Nature of Antisocial Behavior,”
Criminology 38 (2000): 25–46.
- 169. Ibid., p. 31.
- 170. R. J. Cadoret, C. Cain, and R. R. Crowe,
“Evidence for a Gene–Environment Inter-
action in the Development of Adolescent
Antisocial Behavior,” Behavior Genetics 13
- 171. Lawrence Cohen and Richard Machalek,
“A General Theory of Expropriative Crime:
An Evolutionary Ecological Approach,”
American Journal of Sociology 94 (1988):
It doesn’t seem worth it to dig thru these old studies. Surely, there must exist at least one good systematic review/meta-review of the available studies. I used Google Scholar to locate a such study. I set the age to maximum 5 years old (from 2007 and later). Used the search frase “systematic review heritable criminality”. Link. I found this study:
Heritability, Assortative Mating and Gender Differences in Violent Crime Results from a Total Population Sample Using Twin, Adoption, and Sibling Models
Volume 42, Number 1 (2012), 3-18, DOI: 10.1007/s10519-011-9483-0. Abstract:
Research addressing genetic and environmental determinants to antisocial behaviour suggests substantial variability across studies. Likewise, evidence for etiologic gender differences is mixed, and estimates might be biased due to assortative mating. We used longitudinal Swedish total population registers to estimate the heritability of objectively measured violent offending (convictions) in classic twin (N = 36,877 pairs), adoptee-parent (N = 5,068 pairs), adoptee-sibling (N = 10,610 pairs), and sibling designs (N = 1,521,066 pairs). Type and degree of assortative mating were calculated from comparisons between spouses of siblings and half-siblings, and across consecutive spouses. Heritability estimates for the liability of violent offending agreed with previously reported heritability for self-reported antisocial behaviour. While the sibling model yielded estimates similar to the twin model (A ≈ 55%, C ≈ 13%), adoptee-models appeared to underestimate familial effects (A ≈ 20–30%, C ≈ 0%). Assortative mating was moderate to strong (r spouse = 0.4), appeared to result from both phenotypic assortment and social homogamy, but had only minor effect on variance components. Finally, we found significant gender differences in the etiology of violent crime.
Pretty sofisticated study. I didn’t read all of it. Some of it was too technical for me.
Evaluation of the Biosocial Branch of Trait Theory
Biosocial perspectives on crime have raised some challeng-
ing questions. Critics find some of these theories to be rac-
ist and dysfunctional. If there are biological explanations for
street crimes, such as assault, murder, or rape, the argument
goes, and if, as the official crime statistics suggest, the poor
and minority-group members commit a disproportionate
number of such acts, then by implication biological theory
says that members of these groups are biologically different,
l awed, or inferior.
Wow, the criticism is that people that belong to different races… are biologically different? Holy shit! Oh noes!
Some biological explanations for the geographic, social,
and temporal patterns in the crime rate are problematic.
Furthermore, biological theory seems to divide people into
criminals and noncriminals on the basis of their genetic and
physical makeup, ignoring self-reports indicating that al-
most everyone has engaged in some type of illegal activity
during his or her lifetime.
No they don’t. What they imply is that some groups are more likely to be criminals than others. This can’t be news to anyone. If there were nothing that correlated with criminal activity, then it follows that all acts of crime are completely random and everyone just randomly acts like that once in a while for no good reason in the theory. This is clearly wrong. There are tendencies in different people, and groups of people etc.
The most significant criticism of biosocial theory has
been the lack of adequate empirical testing. In most research
efforts, sample sizes are relatively small and nonrepresen-
tative. A great deal of biosocial research is conducted with
samples of adjudicated offenders who have been placed in
clinical treatment settings. Methodological problems make
it impossible to determine whether i ndings apply only to
offenders who have been convicted of crimes and placed in
treatment or to the population of criminals as a whole.185
More research is needed to clarify the relationships pro-
posed by biosocial researchers and to silence critics.
While this may be true for some studies, what is really needed to ‘silence’ critics is for them to stop setting different evidential standards. Basically, stop believing in blank slate nonsense.
Psychological theories of crime have a long history. In
The English Convict, Charles Goring (1870–1919) stud-
ied the mental characteristics of 3,000 English convicts.186
He found little difference in the physical characteristics of
criminals and noncriminals, but he uncovered a signii cant
relationship between crime and a condition he referred to
as defective intelligence, which involves such traits as
feeblemindedness, epilepsy, insanity, and defective social
instinct.187 Goring believed criminal behavior was inher-
ited and could, therefore, be controlled by regulating the
reproduction of families who produced mentally defective
Interesting. I didn’t know that other people than F. Galton did such research. Goring was without a doubt right to some degree.
Psychodynamic (or psychoanalytic) psychology was origi-
nated by Viennese psychiatrist Sigmund Freud (1856–1939)
and has since remained a prominent segment of psychologi-
No. It is clearly my impression that most psychologists today think those theories are unempirical, pseudoscientific etc.
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) believes
a person should not be held legally responsible for a
crime if his or her behavior meets the following stan-
dard developed by legal expert Richard Bonnie:
A person charged with a criminal offense should
be found not guilty by reason of insanity if it
is shown that as a result of mental disease or
mental retardation he was unable to appreciate
the wrongfulness of his conduct at the time of
As used in this standard, the terms mental disease and mental
retardation include only those severely abnormal mental condi-
tions that grossly and demonstrably impair a person’s perception
or understanding of reality and that are not attributable primar-
ily to the voluntary ingestion of alcohol or other psychoactive
The problem with such definitions is that psychological conditions may be and often are continuous, not discreet. In the case of intelligence, this is surely the case. It is also the case with autism. I’d guess it is very often the case. Human attributes tend to follow normal distributions. All normal distributions are continuous, and all attributes that follows those are thus also continuous.
Instead of using either/or decisions in sentencing (and one is here reminded of the current case with Anders Breivik), then perhaps one shud develop continuous methods. For instance, one cud say that having an IQ of <70 completely excuses one of any wrongdoing. One cud create a simple function where f(70)=0. One cud then use something like sentence length = f(IQ)*judge decided length. Not sure if this is a good idea. This wud make sentences really long for very bright people. However, one cud just have a function such that f(70)=0 and f(X)=1 such that one deems any person of that intelligence level adequate for full sentencing but retains a continuous scale between those two poles.
This approach seems worth thinking about altho it cud have disastrous consequences with societies with different populations that score differently on IQ tests. For instance, since the US african IQ=85, almost half of them will fall between 70-85 (-1sd to 0sd), and lots of them <70. One idea to fix this is to use population relative scales. For instance, at -2sd one is without blame at all. This is 70 for whites, 55 for US blacks.
Psychologist Hans Eysenck linked personality to crime
when he identified two traits that he associated with antiso-
cial behavior: extroversion-introversion and stability-instabil-
ity. Extreme introverts are overaroused and avoid sources of
stimulation; in contrast, extreme extroverts are unaroused
and seek sensation. Introverts are slow to learn and be con-
ditioned; extroverts are impulsive individuals who lack the
ability to examine their own motives and behaviors. Those
who are unstable, a condition Eysenck calls “neuroticism,”
are anxious, tense, and emotionally unstable.259 People
who are both neurotic and extroverted lack self-insight and
are impulsive and emotionally unstable; they are unlikely
to have reasoned judgments of life events. While extrovert
neurotics may act self-destructively (e.g., abusing drugs),
more stable people will be able to reason that such behav-
ior is ultimately harmful and life threatening. Eysenck be-
lieves that personality is controlled by genetic factors and
A number of research efforts have found an association
between the personality traits identified by Eysenck and
repeat and chronic criminal offending.260 Other suspected
traits include impulsivity, hostility, and aggressiveness.261
Callous, unemotional traits in very young children can be
a warning sign for future psychopathy and antisocial behav-ior.
262 Personality defects have been linked not only to ag-
gressive antisocial behaviors such as assault and rape, but
also to white-collar and business crimes.263
According to this view, the personality is the key to
understanding antisocial behavior. The more severe the
disorder, the greater the likelihood that the individual will
engage in serious and repeated antisocial acts.264 Take for
instance sadistic personality disorder, defined as a re-
peating pattern of cruel and demeaning behavior. People
suffering from this type of extreme personality disturbance
seem prone to engage in serious violent attacks, including
homicides motivated by sexual sadism.265
This is a rather poor description those traits. All those traits are on a line of continuity. There is no clear cut difference. Speaking of “the disorder” is rather misleading. There is only a continuum. Apparently, since humans have some amounts of neuroticism, it probably is good for something fitness related, at least in the ancestral environment. A high level of neuroticism is no more a disorder than is a low level of intelligence. It is simply personal variability that may or may not be good for different things in our modern societies. And actually, intelligence is bad for fitness in the modern environment. In other words, intelligence correlates negatively with having more surviving children.
Research on Personality Since maintaining a deviant per-
sonality has been related to crime and delinquency, numer-
ous attempts have been made to devise accurate measures
of personality and determine whether they can predict anti-
social behavior. One of the most widely used psychological
tests is the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory,
commonly called the MMPI. This test has subscales de-
signed to measure many different personality traits, includ-
ing psychopathic deviation (Pd scale), schizophrenia (Sc),
and hypomania (Ma).268 Research studies have detected an
association between scores on the Pd scale and criminal in-
volvement.269 Another frequently administered personality
test, the California Personality Inventory (CPI), has also
been used to distinguish deviants from nondeviant groups.270
The Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire (MPQ)
allows researchers to assess such personality traits as control,
aggression, alienation, and well-being.271 Evaluations using
this scale indicate that adolescent offenders who are crime
prone maintain “negative emotionality,” a tendency to experi-
ence aversive affective states, such as anger, anxiety, and irrita-
bility. They also are predisposed to weak personal constraints,
and they have difficulty controlling impulsive behavior urges.
Because they are both impulsive and aggressive, crime-prone
people are quick to take action against perceived threats.
Evidence that personality traits predict crime and vio-
lence is important because it suggests that the root cause
of crime can be found in the forces that influence human
development at an early stage of life. If these results are
valid, rather than focus on job creation and neighborhood
improvement, crime control efforts might be better focused
on helping families raise children who are reasoned and re-
flective and enjoy a safe environment.
1) This is an unfortunate formulation that gives the wrong impression that such scales can be used to divide groups into two: deviants and nondeviants with 100% precision. This is not true. It is not even close to true. What is possible is to detect a correlation between some scale of personality tests and deviant behavior (measured however).
2) The last paragraf is strange, as it implicitly assumes that personality is not highly heritable. It also puts more focus on parents. This is a bad idea when research shows that parenting has little effect on personality and intelligence. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Nurture_Assumption
Chapter 6 – Social Structure Theories
Minority Group Poverty
The burdens of underclass life are often felt most acutely by mi-
nority group members. As Table 6.1 shows, there is real dispar-
ity in the annual income of Asian ($65,469), white ($54,461),
Hispanic ($38,039), and black ($32,584) households.27
Fits perfectly with the population intelligence scores by rank order. How about relatively as well? Well, assuming white american IQ = 100, black = 85, asian = 105, hispanic 90. I entered all of those into a grafing program (Graph), and asked it to find a linear trendline. It did and the goodness of fit (R2) is 0.9887. Average yearly income follows almost exactly the pattern expected by group IQ alone. The function is: f(x)=1643.84x-108526.55. This is very much in broad agreement with the methods and results used by Gordon (1997).
While dropout rates have declined, about 6 percent of
white, 11 percent of black, and 22 percent of Hispanic
students drop out of high school each year. In the in-
ner cities, more than half of all black men do not finish
Not as predicted by pure population intelligence model. I also checked the numbers. They fit except for the hispanic which shud be between whites and blacks, not above blacks. However, the data is broadly consistent with population intelligence theory. Using these updated numbers. The outliers here are hispanic. Using 87 as the population IQ for amerindians, they are also outliers. I did the same thing as above and got the function f(x)=-0.4936255x+55.844622. R2 is .5446 indicating that other things are at work. My immediate hypothesis is that it is due to having a different native language as both hispanics and amerindians presumably have significantly higher rates of having english as a second language. One cud enter the % of the population having a different first language into a multiple regression analysis and see whether i’m right.
The expectation is that the line shud go through blacks, whites and asians (bottom three dots), and the other two are inflated becus of language barriers.
Mistrust and fear. People who report living in neighbor-
hoods with high levels of crime and civil disorder be-
come suspicious and mistrusting.97 They develop a
sense of powerlessness, which amplifies the effect of
neighborhood disorder and increases levels of mistrust.
Some residents become so suspicious of authority that
they develop a siege mentality in which the outside
world is considered the enemy out to destroy the neigh-
borhood. Elijah Anderson found that residents in the
African American neighborhoods he studied believed in
the existence of a secret plan to eradicate the population
by such strategies as permanent unemployment, police
brutality, imprisonment, drug distribution, and AIDS.98
White officials and political leaders were believed to
have hatched this conspiracy, and it was demonstrated
by the lax law enforcement efforts in poor areas. Resi-
dents felt that police cared little about black-on-black
crime because it helped reduce the population. Rumors
abounded that federal government agencies, such as the
CIA, controlled the drug trade and used proi ts to fund
illegal overseas operations.
Lolwut? Reminds me of those mentioned in Gordon (1997). The effects of low population g really is pervasive.
A recurrent annoying theme with this book is the loaded terms and questionable use of antisocial. Here we see both:
1) drug abuse instead of the neutral drug use.
2) There is no explanation of why drug use is antisocial, especially given that many drugs are mostly used for social gatherings, say, alcohol or ecstasy both of which are party drugs. Other drugs such as THC can clearly be and are often used socially. Even stronger hallucinogens (salvia, shrooms, LSD) are often used socially. While, obviously, some people that are on drugs sometimes harm other people, this is true for people that are not on drugs as well. While some drugs may increase the chance of acting like that, others clearly reduce the chance. Ever heard of stoners fighting and killing each other while high? No. THC is a relaxing drug.
I even recall seeing a poster at Roskilde Festival saying that drug use (it also used abuse) is antisocial. It made no sense then, and it makes no sense now. Here is the video that they play over and over again. Probably without effect. Hell, it may even make people annoyed and curious and thus have the opposite effect. Their information is so obviously biased that i wud be surprised that it convinced anyone. People can tell when politicians and perhaps well-meaning doctors are lying to them.
Dropping out (of school?) is antisocial? What the fuck.
One of the biggest question marks about GST is its abil-
ity to adequately explain gender differences in the crime
rate. Females experience as much or more strain, frustra-
tion, and anger as males, but their crime rate is much lower.
Is it possible that there are gender differences either (a) in
the relationship between strain and criminality or (b) in the
ability to cope with the effects of strain? Not all sources of
strain produce the anger envisioned by Agnew.201
Although females may experience more strain, males may be more
deeply affected by interpersonal stress.202
There is evidence that stress influences both males and
females equally; however, the degree to which it leads to
criminal behavior is much higher among males than fe-
males.203 When presented with similar types of strain, males
and females respond with a different constellation of nega-
tive emotions.204 Females may be socialized to internalize
stress, blaming themselves for their problems; males may
take the same type of strain and relieve it by striking out
at others and deflecting criticism with aggression.205 Con-
sequently, males may resort to criminality in the face of
stressors of any magnitude, but only extreme levels of strain
produce violent reactions from women.206 Males may also
seek out their peers when they are faced with strain, whereas
females are less inclined to confide in others. Male bonding
with peers may actually increase their involvement with de-
viant behavior, a risk that is avoided by females. More effort
is certainly needed to understand the cross-gender impact
This is just screaming for evolutionary explanations.
Chapter 7 – Social Process Theories: Socialization and Society
Teenager Genarlow Wilson was an honor student and a gifted athlete, attractive, popular, and outgoing. He
had a 3.2 grade point average, was all-conference in football, voted 11th-grade prom prince, and his senior
year was capped off with a special honor when he was elected Douglas County High’s i rst-ever homecoming
king. Instead of going right to his college of choice, Genarlow instead served a sentence in a Georgia prison.
His crime: engaging in consensual sex when he was 17 years old with a girl two years younger. Wilson was
convicted of aggravated child molestation even though he and the girl were both minors at the time and the
sex was clearly consensual.
Wilson engaged in oral sex with the girl during a wild party involving a bunch of kids, marijuana, and
alcohol, all captured on videotape. The tapes made it clear the sex was voluntary and not coerced. Though the
prosecutor favored leniency, Wilson refused a plea bargain because it would mean admitting he was a sexual
predator, a charge he vehemently denied and that no one, including the prosecutor, believed was true. Ironically,
if the couple had had sexual intercourse, it would have been considered a misdemeanor, but since oral sex was
involved, the crime was considered a felony. An additional irony in the case: after Wilson was convicted, the
Georgia law was changed, making consensual oral sex between minors a misdemeanor as well. But the new law
did not apply retroactively. Instead of using his college scholarship, Wilson was sent to prison.1
Genarlow Wilson’s case shows how social interactions and process shape crime. He did not consider
himself a criminal and even in court denied his culpability. Here is an exchange he had with the prosecutor
during the trial:
Wilson: Aggravated child molestation is when like a 60-year-some old man likes messing with 10-year-old
girls. I’m 17, the girl was 15, sir. You call that child molestation, two years apart?
Barker: I didn’t write the law.
Wilson: I didn’t write the law, either.
Barker: That’s what the law states is aggravated child molestation, Mr. Wilson, not me.
Wilson: Well, sir, I understand you’re just doing your job. I don’t blame you. . . . But do you think it’s fair?
. . . Would you want your son on trial for something like this?2
These laws are retarded. The state shud NOT have filled charges. This reminds me of how much i hate the US.
Should Genarlow Wilson have been labeled a “sexual preda-
tor”? If he had engaged in a different type of sex act, the
case would never have been made public. The law itself was
designed to protect young girls from being abused by older
men, not members of their own peer group with whom they
were socializing freely. And if the act itself was so bad, why
was it decriminalized a short time later? The bottom line: if
the party had occurred a few months later, Genarlow Wil-
son would have been playing football at Georgia State Uni-
versity, and not sent to Georgia State Prison!
Genarlow Wilson was in fact labeled a sexual predator and
sent to prison because those in power, who define the law and
control its process, decided that his behavior constituted a se-
rious crime, a felony. They could have just as easily ignored
the action and let him go. It would have been just another case
of teens behaving badly. But even powerful decision makers
can change their minds and reassess labels. On June 9, 2007,
a Georgia judge threw out Genarlow’s 10-year sentence and
amended it to misdemeanor aggravated child molestation with
a 12-month term, plus credit for time served. Under the rul-
ing, Genarlow, who had been behind bars for more than two
years, would not be required to register as a sex offender. In
making his decision, the Georgia judge stated:
If this court or any court cannot recognize the injustice
of what has occurred here, then our court system has
lost sight of the goal our judicial system has always
strived to accomplish . . . justice being served in a fair
and equal manner. . . . The fact that Genarlow Wilson
has spent two years in prison for what is now classified
as a misdemeanor, and without assistance from this
court, will spend eight more years in prison, is a grave
miscarriage of justice.3
Here we can see how social processes inl uence both the
dei nition of what is to be considered a crime and who is
to be considered a criminal. How people are socialized and
how they are perceived by others are critical determinants of
a person’s status and behavior.
Still a horrible situation. What the fuck is wrong with these people. This shudn’t be a crime at all. It is natural and common that males are a bit older than the females. There is nothing wrong with this.
Similarly to earlier, i plotted the data along with population IQs. It was somewhat difficult in this case becus the sources i consulted (source1 source2) didn’t list IQs for all the groups. So i had to combine them. The problem was that one of them listed whites as 103 and the other as 99, asians at 105 and 106 respectively. I decided to stick with the standard numbers: 100 and 105. I used 85 for US blacks, 87 for amerindians, 89 for latinos. A further problem with the data from the book is that they conflate asians all into one category. Different asians have very different population IQs. I did a linear regression and found f(x):-2.128886x+236.81218. R2 is 0.8851. Again, the raw population IQ data are rather good at predicting levels of single-parenthood.
Family Deviance A number of studies have found that
parental deviance has a powerful inl uence on children’s fu-
ture behavior. Kids look up to and are inl uenced by their
parents, so it comes as no surprise that they are willing to
model their behavior along parental lines.19 When parents
drink, take drugs, and commit crimes, the effects can be
both devastating and long term. In fact, research shows the
effect is intergenerational: the children of deviant parents
produce delinquent children themselves.20
Some of the most important data on the inl uence of
parental deviance were gathered by British criminologist
David Farrington, whose longitudinal research data were
gathered in the long-term Cambridge Study in Delinquent
Development (CSDD). Some of the most important results
- A significant number of delinquent youths have crimi-
nal fathers. About 8 percent of the sons of noncriminal
fathers became chronic offenders, compared to 37 per-
cent of youths with criminal fathers.21
- School yard bullying may be both inter- and intragen-
erational. Bullies have children who bully others, and
these “second-generation bullies” grow up to become
the parents of children who are also bullies (see Chap-
ter 9 for more on bullying in the school yard).22
Thus, one family may have a grandfather, father, and son who
are or were school yard bullies.23
- Kids whose parents go to prison are much more likely
to be at risk for delinquency than children of nonincar-
“intergenerational”? I can’t tell if this means heritable or just that they can see a pattern in families? It cud be both or either of them. Correlation within family does not alone show how it works. The 4 sources given are:
- 20. Daniel Shaw, “Advancing Our Understand-
ing of Intergenerational Continuity in
Antisocial Behavior,” Journal of Abnormal
Child Psychology 31 (2003): 193–199.
- 21. Donald J. West and David P. Farrington,
eds., “Who Becomes Delinquent?” in The
Delinquent Way of Life (London: Heine-
mann, 1977); Donald J. West, Delinquency:
Its Roots, Careers, and Prospects (Cam-
bridge, MA: Harvard University Press,
- 22. David Farrington, “Understanding and
Preventing Bullying,” in Crime and Justice,
Vol. 17, ed. Michael Tonry (Chicago: Uni-
versity of Chicago Press, 1993), pp.
- 23. Carolyn Smith and David Farrington,
“Continuities in Antisocial Behavior and
Parenting Across Three Generations,” Jour-
nal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 45
- 24. Joseph Murray and David Farrington,
“Parental Imprisonment: Effects on Boys’
Antisocial Behaviour and Delinquency
Through the Life-Course,” Journal of Child
Psychology and Psychiatry 46 (2005):
Some of these are books that i don’t have access to. The abstracts of the two relevant papers are:
This commentary reviews the major findings of this set of 4 papers on intergenerational continuity in antisocial behavior; it identifies strengths and remaining challenges, and discusses potential policy implications of the research. As a group, these researchers have raised the methodological bar for future work in this area, using prospective designs with multiple informants and methods to test the influences of G2 parenting and adolescent antisocial behavior in mediating continuity between G1 parenting and G3 early disruptive behavior. The pattern of findings is discussed with respect to gender of G2 and social context. The inherent challenges of conducting intergenerational research are also highlighted, within the context of offering recommendations for improving future intergenerational investigations and their feasibility.
As far as i can tell, it doesn’t control for genes.
Continuities in antisocial behavior and parenting across three generations.
Accumulating evidence indicates that there are intergenerational continuities in antisocial behavior, and that parenting patterns play a role in these continuities. Very few studies, however, enable assessment across two generations of children at comparable ages, employing independent reporters and comparable measurements. The present study addresses the extent to which antisocial behavior in parents predicts antisocial behavior in children in two successive generations; the degree to which a man’s childhood antisocial behavior predicts antisocial behavior in his own children; the extent to which parenting problems are related to child antisocial behavior similarly in two successive generations; and the extent to which intergenerational continuities in antisocial behavior are mediated by parenting variables.
Questions are addressed with prospective longitudinal data from the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development (CSDD). The CSDD includes data on 411 Inner London males (Generation 2, or G2), their female partners, their parents (G1) and their children (G3). At time 1, when G2 were aged 8-10, data on G2 child conduct problems and G1 parenting and convictions were available. At time 2 when G2 males were aged 32, data were available on the parenting of 178 G2 fathers with G3 children aged 3-15, and on their G3 children’s behavior. Time 1 data come predominantly from G1 mothers, whereas time 2 data come predominantly from G2 fathers.
Between generations, antisocial G1 mothers and fathers predicted conduct problems in G2 and G3 children, but G2 child conduct problems did not predict G3 child conduct problems. Within generations, G2 child conduct problems predicted G2 adult antisocial behavior and antisocial partnerships, which in turn predicted G3 conduct problems. Parental conflict and authoritarian parenting were similarly related to early childhood conduct problems in two successive generations. There was relatively little continuity between G1 and G2 parenting except that G2 males who were poorly supervised by their parents were themselves poor supervisors as fathers. Both G1 and G2 generations displayed assortative mating, with antisocial males tending to partner antisocial female peers.
There are between-generation and within-generation continuities in antisocial behavior, although assessment of such continuities is complicated by inevitable design and measurement limitations. Parenting partly mediated the impact of parental antisocial behavior on child antisocial behavior in two successive generations, but the relation between antisocial parents and antisocial children is not fully mediated by parenting variables.
Again, as far as i can tell, no control for genes. Altho the researches do claim that it is due to parenting, not genes. My emfasis.
The Chicken or the Egg? Which comes first, bad par-
ents or bad kids? Does poor parenting cause delinquency
or do delinquents undermine their parents’ supervisory
abilities? In a recent survey, David Huh and his colleagues
questioned 500 adolescent girls from eight different schools
to determine their perceived parental support and control
and whether they engage in problem behaviors such as ly-
ing, stealing, running away, or substance abuse. Huh and
his colleagues found little evidence that poor parenting is
a direct cause of children’s misbehavior problems or that
it escalates misbehavior. Rather, their results suggest that
children’s problem behaviors undermine parenting effec-
tiveness. Increases in adolescent behavior problems, such
as substance abuse, result in a decrease in parental control
and support. Parental control actually played a small role in
inl uencing children’s behavior problems.
Huh suggests it is possible that the parents of adolescents
who consistently misbehave may become more tolerant of
their behavior and give up on attempts at control. As their
kids’ behaviors become increasingly threatening and unruly,
parents may simply detach from and reject their kids. So in
the i nal analysis, the egg may control the chicken and not
Sounds like genes to me.
The educational process and adolescent achievement in
school have been linked to criminality. Studies show that
children who do poorly in school, lack educational moti-
vation, and feel alienated are the most likely to engage in
criminal acts.38 Children who fail in school have been found
to offend more frequently than those who are successful in
school. These children commit more serious and violent of-
fenses and persist in their offending into adulthood.39
Schools contribute to criminality when they label prob-
lem youths and set them apart from conventional society.
One way in which schools perpetuate this stigmatization is
the “track system,” which identii es some students as col-
lege bound and others as academic underachievers or po-
tential dropouts.40 Those children placed in tracks labeled
advanced placement, college prep, or honors will develop
positive self-images and achievement motivation, whereas
those assigned to lower level or general courses of study
may believe academic achievement is closed to someone of
their limited skills.
Perhaps becus academic achievement IS closed to someone of their limited skill…?
Deviant involvement. Adolescents who report high levels
of involvement, which Hirschi suggests should reduce
delinquency, actually report high levels of criminal
behavior. Typically, these are kids who are involved in
activities outside the home without parental supervi-
sion.155 Kids who spend a lot of time hanging out with
their friends, unsupervised by parents and/or other
authority figures, and who own cars that give them the
mobility to get into even more trouble are the ones most
likely to get involved in antisocial acts such as drink-
ing and taking drugs.156 This is especially true of dat-
ing relationships: kids who date, especially if they have
multiple partners, are the ones who are likely to get into
trouble and engage in delinquent acts.157 It is possible
that although involvement is important, it depends on
the behavior in which a person is involved!
Sure is moron mode in here. Taking drugs is generally a social activity. This repetition of this is annoying me. It makes it difficult to trust the author when he other places talk about antisocial acts.. perhaps in that particular occasion, it is just drug use (not necessarily abuse). Smarter people do more drugs. Life is boring.
People interpret symbolic gestures from others and in-
corporate them in their self-image. When a teacher puts an
A on your paper, it tells you that you are an excellent stu-
dent, and the symbol pumps up your self-image. Symbols
are used by others to let people know how well they are
doing and whether they are liked or appreciated. Wearing
a Rolex and driving a Mercedes is a symbolic way of let-
ting people know that you are quite successful. Designer
clothes display their symbol to let people know that the
wearer has both taste and income. How people view reality
then depends on the content of the messages and situations
they encounter, the subjective interpretation of these inter-
actions, and how they shape future behavior. There is no
objective reality. When someone takes another person’s life,
it could be self-defense or cold-blooded murder, depend-
ing on how people interpret the act. The police officer who
punches a suspect may, depending on how people interpret
the incident, get a medal for subduing a dangerous crimi-
nal or be suspended for police brutality. Because interpreta-
tion changes over time, so do the meanings of concepts and
Derp. Sure is social constructivism in here. -.-
Social reaction theory picks up on these concepts of
interaction and interpretation.167 Throughout their lives,
people are given a variety of symbolic labels and ways to
interact with others. These labels represent behavior and
attitude characteristics; labels help define not just one
trait but the whole person. People labeled insane are also
assumed to be dangerous, dishonest, unstable, violent,
strange, and otherwise unsound. Valued labels, including
smart, honest, and hard working, suggest overall com-
petence. These labels can improve self-image and social
standing. Research shows that people who are labeled with
one positive trait, such as being physically attractive, are
assumed to maintain other traits, such as being intelligent
and competent.168 In contrast, negative labels—including
troublemaker, mentally ill, and stupid—help stigmatize
the recipients of these labels and reduce their self-image.
Those who have accepted these labels are more prone to
engage in deviant behaviors than those whose self-image
has not been so tarnished.169
I don’t like the use of the word assumed here. To assume something is to take it as given without proper evidence. But there is proper evidence. Attractiveness and intelligence does correlate. It is not just a halo effect. Inre. the first Beautiful People Really ARE More Intelligent:
By pure coincidence, the correlation between physical attractiveness and intelligence in NCDS is exactly the same, down to the third decimal point, as the correlation between intelligence and education. Both correlations are .381. Everybody knows that intelligence and education are very highly correlated. What they don’t know is that physical attractiveness is equally highly correlated with intelligence as education is. If you want to estimate someone’s intelligence without giving them an IQ test, you would do just as well to base your estimate on their physical attractiveness as you would to base it on their years of education.
An important principle of social reaction theory is that the law
is differentially applied, benei ting those who hold economic
and social power and penalizing the powerless. The probabil-
ity of being brought under the control of legal authority is a
function of a person’s race, wealth, gender, and social stand-
ing. A core concept of social reaction theory is that police of-
i cers are more likely to suspect, question, search, and arrest
males, minority group members, and those in the lower class
and to use their discretionary powers to give benei cial treat-
ment to more favored groups.175 The term racial profiling
has been used to signify that police suspicion is often directed
at minority group males. Minorities and the poor are more
likely to be prosecuted for criminal offenses and to receive
harsher punishments when convicted.176 Judges may sym-
pathize with white defendants and help them avoid criminal
labels, especially if they seem to come from “good families,”
whereas minority defendants are not afforded that luxury.177
In the US, minority groups often correspond with groups with lower intelligence and consequently higher crime rates. It might not be any oppressive effect, just that it is natural to focus on the most offending groups. How does data from, say, South Africa look like? Here we have cases of minority groups but where they have the higher intelligence. Do the police focus more or less on them? or no difference? In South Africa it is whites. Also, in the US, there are east asians. They have higher intelligence. Presumably the police doesn’t focus on them. So.. it cant be an effect of being a minority group?
Retrospective Reading After someone is labeled because
of some unusual or inexplicable act, people begin to re-
construct the culprit’s identity so that the act and the label
become understandable (e.g., “we always knew there was
something wrong with that boy”). It is not unusual for the
media to lead the way and interview boyhood friends of an
assassin or serial killer. On the 11 o’clock news we can hear
them report that the suspect was withdrawn, suspicious,
and negativistic as a youth, expressing violent thoughts and
ideation, a loner, troubled, and so on. Yet, until now no one
was suspicious and nothing was done. This is referred to as
retrospective reading, a process in which the past of the
labeled person is reviewed and reevaluated to i t his or her
current status. By conducting a retrospective reading, we
can now understand what prompted his current behavior;
therefore, the label must be accurate.194
Reminds me of other invented memories, such as those regarding what one was doing when one heard about 9/11.
Primary and Secondary Deviance
One of the best-known views of the labeling process is
Edwin Lemert’s concept of primary deviance and second-
ary deviance.196 According to Lemert, primary deviance
involves norm violations or crimes that have very little in-
fluence on the actor and can be quickly forgotten. For ex-
ample, a college student takes a “five-finger discount” at the
campus bookstore. He successfully steals a textbook, uses
it to get an A in a course, goes on to graduate, is admitted
into law school, and later becomes a famous judge. Because
his shoplifting goes unnoticed, it is a relatively unimportant
event that has little bearing on his future life.
In contrast, secondary deviance occurs when a deviant
event comes to the attention of signii cant others or social
control agents who apply a negative label. The newly labeled
offender then reorganizes his or her behavior and personal-
ity around the consequences of the deviant act. The shoplift-
ing student is caught by a security guard and expelled from
college. With his law school dreams dashed and his future
cloudy, his options are limited; people who know him say
he “lacks character,” and he begins to share their opinion.
He eventually becomes a drug dealer and winds up in prison
Secondary deviance involves resocialization into a devi-
ant role. The labeled person is transformed into one who,
according to Lemert, “employs his behavior or a role based
upon it as a means of defense, attack, or adjustment to the
overt and covert problems created by the consequent social
reaction to him.”197 Secondary deviance produces a deviance
amplii cation effect. Offenders feel isolated from the main-
stream of society and become i rmly locked within their de-
viant role. They may seek out others similarly labeled to form
deviant subcultures or groups. Ever more i rmly enmeshed
in their deviant role, they are locked into an escalating cycle
of deviance, apprehension, more powerful labels, and iden-
tity transformation. Lemert’s concept of secondary deviance
expresses the core of social reaction theory: deviance is a pro-
cess in which one’s identity is transformed. Efforts to control
the offenders, whether by treatment or punishment, simply
help lock them in their deviant role.
Reminds me of this.