The world will always be full of crime, thus it is necessary for scientist to grow along with the gruesome and increasing amount of violations. Due to this it sparked scientist to develop crime theories in which emerged to explain why crime is caused by individuals. Some of the few theories that have advanced over the past century and provided many answers to why crimes are committed are biological theories, psychological theories and learning theories. These theories provide an insight to its first use and change in order to provide answers.
High crime rates are an ongoing issue through the United States, however the motivation and the cause of crime has yet to be entirely identified. Ronald Akers would say that criminality is a behavior that is learned based on what an individual sees and observes others doing. When an individual commits a crime, he or she is acting on impulse based on actions that they have seen others engage in. Initially during childhood, individuals learn actions and behavior by watching and listening to others, and out of impulse they mimic the behavior that is observed. Theorist Ronald Akers extended Sutherland’s differential association theory with a modern viewpoint known as the social learning theory. The social learning theory states that individuals commit crime through their association with or exposure to others. According to Akers, people learn how to be offenders based on their observations around them and their association with peers. Theorist Akers states that for one, “people can become involved in crime through imitation—that is by modeling criminal conduct. Second, and most significant, Akers contended that definition and imitation are most instrumental in determining initial forays into crime” (Lilly, Cullen, and Ball 2011:57). Although Akers’ theory has been linked to juvenile delinquency in the past, it has also been tested as a possible cause of crime overall. Individuals learn from observation that criminal behavior is justifiable in certain circumstances. In connection with juvenile delinquency and crime, peers and intimate groups have the most effect on individuals when associated with criminal behavior. One is more likely to mimic the behavior of someone who they have close ties with, whether the behavior is justifiable or...
Social learning theory was first developed by Robert L. Burgess and Ronald L Akers in 1966 (Social Learning theory, 2016). In 1973, Akers wrote a book entitled Deviant Behaviour: A Social Learning Approach, which discussed Aker’s conception of the social learning theory. He developed social learning theory by extending Sutherland’s theory of differential association (Cochran & Sellers, 2017). Social learning theory is based on the principles of Pavlov’s operant and classical conditioning. Akers believes that crime is like any other social behavior because it is learned through social interaction (Social Learning theory, 2016). Social learning theory states that the probability of an individual committing a crime or engaging in criminal behaviour is increased when they differentially associate with others who commit criminal behavior (Cochran & Sellers, 2017). Social learning theory is classified as a general theory of crime, and has been used to explain many types of criminal behaviour (Social Learning theory, 2016). Furthermore, social learning theory is one of the most tested contemporary theories of crime. There are four fundamental components of social learning theory; differential association, definitions, differential reinforcement and imitation (Social Learning theory,
Secondly, differential association varies based on the intensity, duration, frequency, priority, and timing of one’s process of learning. Through this notion, the individual’s self is disregarded and more emphasis is placed on the extrinsic factors. Furthermore, “it is an individual’s experiences and the ways in which the individual defines those experiences which constitute to the learning of criminality”. (Gongenvare & Dotter, 2007,
Through Social Learning Theory, an individual can be studied based on the behavior acquired by a role model. Verbal conditioning procedures and observation influences the response to an individual’s personality. Environment factors contribute to the Social Learning Theory. Antisocial model is a major contribute to crime, which influences negative characteristics. The Social Leaning Theory has three core social concepts the must be followed: observational learning, intrinsic reinforcement and modeling process.
Akers claimed that the main processual variables of the theory used at the micro level, differential association, differential reinforcement, definitions, and imitation, are affected indirectly by the social structures which, in turn, have a direct affect on an individuals behavior (As cited in Cullen et al., 2014). There have been four dimensions of social structure to which provide the contexts for the social learning variables to operate which include, differential social organization, differential location in the social structure, theoretically defined social structure variables, and differential social locations. These social structure dimensions discussed above, Akers noted, “provide the general learning contexts for individuals that increase or decrease the likelihood of them committing crime… immediate contexts that promote or discourage the criminal behavior of the individual…and socialization, learning environments, and immediate situations conducive to conformity or deviance” (As cited in Cullen et al., 2014, p. 147).
Differential association theory best explains the burglary deviance. There are many principles associated with this type of learning theory. Edwin Sutherland’s theory discusses how crime is a learned behavior where one’s family, peers, and environment are of great influence. Differential association theory seeks to prove that criminal behavior is learned and this paper will evaluate the connection between the two.
The second of social Process theories is Differential Identification theory. This theory was presented by Daniel Glaser in 1956 which allows for learning to take place not only through people close to us but also through other reference groups, even distance ones, such as sports heroes or movie stars with whom an individual has never actually met or corresponded (Tibbetts, 2013:146). As in Sutherland’s proposal, Glaser too thinks that criminal activity is learned from significant others but proceeds to step outside of the concept and add in external groups. The important thing, according to Glaser, was that an individual must identify with a person or character and thus behave in ways that fit the norm set of this reference group or person (Tibbetts, 2013:146). In this concept Glaser’s argument is just as justifiable as Sutherlands’ in Differential Association theory, a person can too be influenced by a person that is not a significant other if they are considered to be of extreme importance to the individual.
Therefore, individuals negotiate the definition of situations they find themselves thereby coming up with realities. Thus one relies on symbols, for instance, gestures and words to arrive at a shared interaction. As such, the interaction of individuals gives rise to crime whereby people learn criminal behavior and other perceptions of social problems from other people. Further, people adopt the attitudes that justify committing crimes coupled with learning the special techniques involved in criminal activities. Robbers make decisions regarding where and when to rob with interactions with other thugs reinforcing their
According to Differential Association, criminal behavior is learned based on the interactions we have with others and the values that we receive during that interaction.