Free «Theories of Criminal Behavior» Essay Sample

Various dimensions have been explored in an attempt to explain the causative factors of criminal behaviors. From a historical perspective, the three main theoretical models include the sociological model, psychological model and biological model. The three models are interrelated in their approaches of interpreting human criminal behavior. Thus, in order to provide a complete understanding of the processes, mechanisms and elements that influence human beings to participate in deviant behavior, it is necessary to apply three dimensions.

Psychological model

The theoretical foundation of the psychological model has been provided by various theorists and scientists. Among them Freud and Mische. These theorists proposed various assumptions regarding human criminal behavior. The individual human being forms the primary focus in the psychological model. The model suggests that criminal behavior can be deduced from an individual’s personality since it is the main driver of human behavior (Seiken2). This implies that criminal behavior is strongly associated with certain personalities who are most likely to engage in deviant behavior compared to others. In this regard, normal behavior is a socially derived aspect (Seiken2). Hence, this suggests that there is a strong element of stereotyping in the psychological model of criminal behavior. Moreover, according to the psychological model, criminal activity is triggered by the display to abnormal traits that arise from dysfunction of the brain (Seiken2). Consequently, it is believed that the existence of improper mental processes in an individual lead them to become social misfits.

In the psychological model, it is also believed that criminal behavior strongly reflects the need for an individual to address certain needs in their mental process (Seiken2). The distress could arise from various sources. For example, it may arise from presence of a potentially manipulative brain disorder such as DSM-IV and other psychopathic conditions (Seiken2). Individuals may also be psychologically conditioned by being subjected to learn a different form of material (Seiken2). The content of this material encourages them to act in certain ways that is based on the contemporary society’s definition of normal behavior. Individuals may also be encouraged to emulate certain criminal personalities whom they consider being role models (Seiken2). These personalities mostly derive from media content such as films and the Internet. The admiration that the individuals give to these criminal personalities infiltrates their psychological domain to the extent that they begin replicating the actions prompted by their role models. In essence, the criminal personality becomes their avatar and they seek to join them in their missions. Interestingly, some of the criminal personalities may emanate from common video game characters.

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Biological model

The biological model relies on the principle that human beings are capable of responding to an external stimulus through a selective learning process. According to the biological model, individuals do not suddenly exhibit homicidal traits since these traits are not embedded in their genes (Fishbein). This implies that any form of human behavior portrayed an individual is a reflex action. The human brain responds to sensation derived from external stimuli. In this regard, human perception and sensation are response factors to an external stimulus (Fishbein). This suggests that in the absence of an external stimulus, there is a low chance that humans will adopt criminal behavior. Before they respond to the external stimulus, they are also encouraged by their historical experiences. This implies that there are specific motivational processes that are involved in preparing an individual to select, receive and react to an external stimulus (Fishbein). Thus, it takes a significant amount of time before an individual decides to provide a positive response.

In essence, the selection process is tied to the fact that humans tend to respond to similar an external stimuli that bring into a life past experiences. Consequently, when there is a coincidence between the historical experience and the present stimulus, there is a high chance of the individual responding to it. This suggests that there is a deliberate learning process that takes place in an individual, which encourages him or her to produce a behavioral response (Fishbein). This further reinforces the fact that criminal behavior does not take place automatically. Moreover, the biological model suggests that there is a strong interaction between nature and nurture. This phenomenon has been demonstrated in various clinical studies that attempt to link biological nature and human’s acquired traits (Fishbein). For example, in a certain study involving monkeys, it was observed that dominant monkeys exhibited aggressive behavior when their brains were electrically stimulated in the presence of a submissive monkey (Fishbein). In as much as fewer human studies have been conducted to elicit similar observations, the clinical studies strongly point to the element of biological conditioning.

Sociological model

The sociological model relies on the principle that human behavior is culturally defined through the social processes existing in a society. In this regard, a society usually has different forms of subcultures exhibited among certain groups. These groups tend to be exceptionally different from others in the society such they acquire a special form of definition. In order to sideline themselves from the society, its members are forced to act according to the social codes that they generate to govern the group. In essence, the existence of several subcultures in a society makes it difficult to attain social cohesion (Tutor2). Thus, social discordance becomes strongly associated with certain groups in the society leading to the development of criminal profiles.

The social approach promotes the belief that several groups in the society may subscribe to the norms promoted by a particular subculture (Tutor2). In this regard, members of the society become segregated according to the subcultures they find most favorable to them. Normally, the criminal subcultures have a definite recruitment process that they use to acquire members in their groups. Individuals become conditioned such that they abandon the cultural norms promoted by the mainstream society. Additionally, the criminal subcultures tend to have a hierarchical structure followed among its members, hence, one’s criminal profile is determinant by their rank in the structure. Responsive factors include victims portraying fear of a reprisal from enforcement officials (Tutor2). Generally, the sociological model emphasizes that the decision of an individual to involve himself or herself in criminal activity is driven by the extent to which they interact with a criminal subculture.

Indeed, the three theoretical models provide a concise perspective regarding the development of criminal behavior in the society, various similarities can be established in all the models. First, there is a strong conditioning that takes place at individual level. Secondly, to some extent, socialization plays a major role, for example, in the psychological and biological models. The individuals have to interact with their environment to generate the required response. Thirdly, the sociological model brings the concept of the formation of a subculture within the mainstream culture, which encourages individuals to subscribe to the new ideals. The most unique element seems to come from the psychological domain, which suggests that the presence of psychopathic conditions that may change one’s cognitive capabilities. Generally, the display of deviant behavior is a long term process that takes place in an individual. 


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