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Learning theories


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Summary of Learning theories from Vold's Theoretical Criminology

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Learning theories

  1. 1. CJUS 411 Learning Theories
  2. 2. Learning Theories <ul><li>What is learned and how learning takes place </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Considered a complementary theory to strain theory </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ Habits and knowledge that develop as a result of the experiences of the individual in entering and adjusting to the environment.” (pg 178) </li></ul>
  3. 3. Learning Theories <ul><li>Aristotle </li></ul><ul><li>Three seminal thinkers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Classical learning – Pavlov </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Operant conditioning – BF Skinner </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social learning - Bandura </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Learning Theories <ul><li>Differential Association </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sutherland (1883-1950) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Nine Points </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>1. Criminal behavior is learned. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>2. Criminal behavior is learned in interaction with other persons in a process of communication. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>3. The principal part of the learning of criminal behavior occurs within intimate personal groups. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>4. When criminal behavior is learned, the learning includes techniques of committing the crime, which are sometimes very complicated, sometimes simple and the specific direction of motives, drives, rationalizations, and attitudes. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Learning Theories <ul><ul><li>Nine points (continued) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>5. The specific direction of motives and drives is learned from definitions of the legal codes as favorable or unfavorable. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>6. A person becomes delinquent because of an excess of definitions favorable to violation of law over definitions unfavorable to violation of the law. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>7. Differential associations may vary in frequency, duration, priority, and intensity. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>8. The process of learning criminal behavior by association with criminal and anti-criminal patterns involves all of the mechanisms that are involved in any other learning. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>9. While criminal behavior is an expression of general needs and values, it is not explained by those needs and values, since non-criminal behavior is an expression of the same needs and values. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Learning Theories <ul><li>Two basic elements </li></ul><ul><ul><li>WHAT is learned and HOW </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>These ideas came from “symbolic interactionism” (Mead): Meanings determine behavior. From these meanings, people derive experience. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>What? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>People follow or break the law because of the meaning they give to their situations, not the situations themselves. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Criminal and Priest example </li></ul></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Learning Theories <ul><li>From this, Sutherland argued that the “meaning of criminal acts … arises primarily from the meanings given to these acts by other people with whom the individual associates in intimate personal groups.” (pg 181) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>People can be in similar situations, but see them differently </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Learning Theories <ul><li>Sutherland goes on to talk about how important learning from associates is </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Replaced social disorganization with Differential Association </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Because there are so many different sorts of association groups, it is inevitable that some of them will be criminal-oriented. Others will be NON-criminal. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If we associate with only Christians (or Muslims, or Jews, etc.) we are likely to become Christian. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>WE ARE WHAT WE KNOW --- Birds of a feather flock together </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Learning Theories <ul><li>Does delinquency cause delinquency? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sheldon & Eleanor Glueck: Yes, but delinquent friends do NOT cause delinquency. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Other thoughts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Quality of associations </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Frequency, Duration, and Priority of associations </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Number of definitions that are favorable to violating the law </li></ul></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Learning Theories <ul><li>Matseuda (1988) believed that differential association could be tested and that there was evidence to support it as a theory (pg183-4) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A variety of studies that showed juveniles who report having more delinquent friends report committing more delinquent acts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A number of definitions that a favorable to violation of the law </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Recent advances in statistics support the causal structure of differential association </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Learning Theories <ul><li>Cultural and Subcultural theories are based on Sutherland’s theories </li></ul><ul><li>Miller’s Cultural theory – argued that the lower class has a separate, identifiable culture that is distinct from the culture of the middle class </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Middle class has values v. Lower class has focal concerns </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Other differences – pg 185-186 </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Learning Theories <ul><li>Wolfgang & Ferracuti presented their theory of “subculture of violence” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Study of homicide determined that a significant amount of homicides involving the lower class stemmed from trivial events </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Underlying conflict of values between the dominant culture and the subculture of violence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Honor is overvalued </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Expectation that violence begets violence </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ It’s him or me” </li></ul></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Learning Theories <ul><li>Elijah Anderson </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Code of the street” found in the inner cities where there is a high concentration of poor people, declining number of legitimate jobs, an increasing number of illegitimate jobs, widespread availability of drugs and guns, high crime rates, declining welfare payments, and little hope for the future </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Decent v. Street people </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Issues involving respect, parenting, toughness, “nerve and manhood” </li></ul></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Learning Theories <ul><li>Anderson felt that outsiders tend to blame the people who living in inner cities, and to think they have no moral values </li></ul><ul><ul><li>But he felt that the focus should be the inequity of the inner city, particularly the absence of jobs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Also pointed to the legacy of slavery and segregation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Matseuda felt that cultural theories should look at/be tied to structural opportunities </li></ul>
  15. 15. Learning Theories <ul><li>Normal learning </li></ul><ul><li>Criminal behavior is learned during both social and nonsocial situations </li></ul><ul><li>Learning needs reinforced </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Four concepts: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Most important source of social learning is differential association </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>General definitions v. Specific definitions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Differential reinforcement refers to the actual or anticipated consequences </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Imitation </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Learning Theories <ul><li>Athens: Violentization </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Explains why some people become extremely violent </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Brutalization </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Belligerence </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Violent performances </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Virulency </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Violent acts are not explosions, they’re decisions. </li></ul></ul>